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Climate Skeptics: Crazy as They Want to Be

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorAugust 19, 2011 7:30 PM


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Serious, science-based climate skeptics have a chance to separate themselves from the foaming-at-the-mouth lunacy that defines their public image. I mention this because I know that some of you skeptics chafe at the buffoonish antics of Christopher Monckton and the sweeping declarations of Republican Senator James Inhofe. As science writer David Brin has written (which I agree with),

Not every person who expresses doubt or criticism toward some part of this complex issue [climate change] is openly wedded to the shrill anti-intellectualism of Fox News "” nor do all of them nod in agreement with absurd exaggerations, e.g., that a winter snowstorm refutes any gradual warming of Earth's atmosphere. Indeed, you are likely to know some individuals who claim not to be "global warming deniers" but rational, open-minded "AGW-skeptics."

My blog, with its weirdly diverse audience, attracts some readers who would classify themselves in the latter category. This post is addressed to you. I know you roll your eyes at Monckton and Morano, and that you wish Anthony Watts could restrain his partisanship. You don't like all the "baggage" that comes with the climate skeptic label. You try to ignore it. Guess what? Texas Governor Rick Perry has now made that impossible. For the next 15 months, he will represent the Republican position on climate change. He will be the public face of climate skeptics. Unfortunately for you, his position on climate science (it's all a big hoax) will be associated with all his other positions on science. A single tweet by Jon Huntsman, another Republican Presidential candidate, has articulated the sum meaning of this:

To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.

This is a shot across the bow of the Republican party. Because of Tea Party mania, Huntsman is not expected to gain traction in the 2012 campaign. Perry, though, will likely saddle up the congealed Republican discontent, anger and culture war politics, and ride all the way to the GOP Presidential nomination. And a little more than half the country will call him crazy and re-elect President Obama. By then, Perry will also have thoroughly established the climate skeptic position as crazy. And as scientifically illegitimate as creationism. That is the foreshadowed meaning of Jon Huntsman's tweet. Do you get that? If so, what are you going to do about it?

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