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The Sciences

The Deniers' Last Stand

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The Post has an interesting profile today of remaining global warming deniers in Congress. It says there are only 10 who are really vocal, all of them Republicans--at least according to an "informal survey" the paper has taken. I bet the number is much higher, although I agree that not all GW deniers are very outspoken. Among the "vocal" ones identified by the Post are John Boehner (Ohio), Joe Barton (Texas), Steven Scalise (Louisiana), Dana Rohrabacher (California), James Inhofe (Oklahoma), and John Shimkus (Illinois). All--with the exception of Scalise--are people we have had merry fun with in the past on this blog. The Post piece is interesting, but it doesn't lay out what I believe is likely to be the ultimate fate, political and otherwise, of these deniers. So if you'll permit some conjecture.... Especially if we can get Al Franken seated in the Senate some time soon, a global warming bill could very well become law this year. The skeptics in Congress will continue to say many dumb things throughout this process, and George Will will probably write a few dumb columns--but they won't have the political power to stop it. Once a law passes, meanwhile, there will be no reason any longer even to discuss whether global warming is real and human caused. The decision will have been made at the level of policy. Many folks will take their denial to the grave, of course. But with Congress having decided the matter, and a new set of greenhouse gas regulations instituted, denial will cease to serve any political purpose--and this, of course, was long its lifeblood, its raison d'etre. Deprived of that animating energy, I suspect climate change denial will then finally take its place in the annals of politically irrelevant crankery, alongside ozone depletion denial, smoking-disease denial, asbestos-mesothelioma denial, and so on. Perhaps someone ought to build a museum--a monument to human tenacity in the face of the truth--and memorialize them all there.

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