Friday, September 14, 2012
A Moratorium, Please, on Questioning Climate Change
Re: "In debate, Maine candidates differ on energy issues," Portland Press Herald, 9/14/2012.
We did not need this debate to learn that Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate, Charlie Summers is an ignorant moron. That much has been apparent for years now.
We also should not waste too much time worrying that Summers will become our next Senator from Maine because A) Independent Angus King has had this race wrapped up from the moment he announced his candidacy (unfortunately...), and B) Summers is a born loser, having lost three previous Congressional bids.
What frustrates me about this debate, however, is the very question, "Do you accept the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is being primarily caused by human activities?"
Climate change is a scientific reality. Period. End of discussion. In fact, the United State is the only industrialized nation in the world in which there is any sort of debate surrounding the science.
This summer was one of the hottest on record. The polar sea ice is melting at an alarming rate. And states in the South are experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades. All of the so-called climate change deniers in the scientific community have been roundly discredited. Anyone who doubts both the reality of global-warming, and humans' role in facilitating (and accelerating) the phenomenon through the burning of fossil fuels, is simply scientifically ignorant.
This is not a "left" versus "right" issue. It is fact.
Debate moderator Jeff Thaler may as well have asked the candidates if they "accept the scientific consensus" of gravity, or that the earth and other planets rotate around the sun. Or perhaps, "Do you accept the mathematical consensus that 2 + 2 = 4?" ("No," Summers would likely still answer. "I believe it's five.") But such questions would be absurd. Climate change should be no different.
What is really at fault here, I believe, is the media's false lens of journalistic objectivity, which attempts to divide the world into neat, polarized "he said, she said," divisions. I would direct readers to David Mindich's Just the Facts: How "Objectivity" Came to Define American Journalism (2000), the best book I have read on the subject.