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The Sciences

The Disastrous Setback for Climate Advocacy of Late 2009

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJanuary 26, 2010 8:07 PM

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Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle has a really important article out about how, basically, the good guys lost a major battle in the climate war over the past few months. Some combination of the weather, ClimateGate, the relative failure of Copenhagen, and now, the decreasing likelihood of the U.S. Senate passing cap and trade have shifted a mood of climate optimism--which I certainly felt about a year ago--to one of deep despair. "The climate surrounding climate change has changed, and not for the better for those seeking to reduce carbon dioxide emissions," writes Berger. Sadly, I have to agree. What went wrong? That's a very long story, and Berger relates much of it. For my part, I am convinced the fundamental factor is that our camp egregiously misunderestimated the skeptic/denial camp and what it was capable of. Our thinking went something like this: "the science keeps getting stronger, and now we have Obama...the tide has turned." And so we were lulled into a false sense of security. Now, there is a hell of a lot of regrouping to do, and I am not even sure where to begin. But one thing is certain: We should never again assume that science alone is going to make the political difference on this issue, no matter how strong it gets.

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