Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Environment

Zero Sum Climate Politics

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

The partisan climate debate seems to surprise those who don't normally swim in its treacherous waters. Joe Nocera, a NYT business columnist, appears taken aback by his experience this week, which he discusses today:

Here's the question on the table today: Can a person support the Keystone XL oil pipeline and still believe that global warming poses a serious threat? To my mind, the answer is yes. The crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, which the pipeline would transport to American refineries on the Gulf Coast, simply will not bring about global warming apocalypse. The seemingly inexorable rise in greenhouse gas emissions is the result of deeply ingrained human habits, which will not change if the pipeline is ultimately blocked. The benefits of the oil we stand to get from Canada, via Keystone, far outweigh the environmental risks. When I tried to make that case on Tuesday, however, I was cast as a global warming "denier." Joe Romm, who edits the Climate Progress blogsaid that I had joined "the climate ignorati." Robert Redford "” yes, that Robert Redford "” denounced my column in The Huffington Post. "Let's put the rhetoric aside, and simply focus on the facts," he wrote.

Let's put rhetoric aside. Heh. Such a quaint notion. Because if there's one thing that characterizes the public climate debate, it's rhetoric that turns facts upside down. On the other side of the spectrum, for example, you could get lost in the funhouse at Powerline, a politically conservative website that twisted a recent paper in Nature to declare of climate science: "And the house of cards starts to come down." In his Powerline post, Steven Hayward, a policy analyst for the libertarian/conservative American Enterprise Institute, writes:

It's fun watching these guys fall on their face in real time. The whole circus is falling apart much faster than I expected. I can tell you that around Washington the whole climate change angle is slowly being dropped from conversation about everything. It's almost like talking with normal people again.

Today, what passes for normal in the climate conversation is hyperbole and distortion.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In