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Think Horses, Not Unicorns (a message to people who have bought the Republican line on climate change)

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opednews.com Headlined to None 6/27/13

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In medicine there's a saying, "When you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras." Whatever's going on is far more likely to be the usual than the extraordinary.
From http://www.flickr.com/photos/76635305@N03/8616382712/
by Public Domain Review



But when it comes to climate change, the Republicans are telling Americans not to think horses, or even zebras. They're saying, think unicorns. Republicans want Americans to believe that the alarm about climate change is based on a scientific hoax.

Republicans used to claim that the science was inconclusive. Fifteen years ago I was on television in Virginia debating the issue against a local Republican official who took that party-line position. But with so powerful a consensus among the experts -- 97% -- the Republicans have taken the fall-back position that climate science is a hoax.

This hoax would have to be beyond extraordinary. Over the course of history, there have been hoaxes in science -- a scientist or two creating false evidence. But if any scientific hoax has involved more than two or three people, I have been unable to discover it.

The scientific studies that show the disruption of the earth's climate due to human activities have been the work of thousands of scientists, from nations all over the world, conducted over decades.

A scientific hoax of that magnitude is beyond improbable.


If we ought not to believe in this unicorn, is there a horse around to explain the hoof beats?

In fact, there is. We have an industry doing what other industries have done in similar situations. And we have a political party doing what it has done again and again.
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The 97% of climate scientists who agree that there's human-caused climate change also say that it would be irresponsible for civilized societies to fail to take action to avert --- or, by this time, simply to lessen -- the possible disasters ahead.  Taking action, in this case, means weaning ourselves from our addiction to fossil fuels.

It's not all that long since science discovered that another powerful industry's addictive products were having deadly results.  That industry worked for decades to sow doubt where there was no good reason for doubt.  Eventually, it was revealed that they had known the truth for years.

I'm talking, of course, about the tobacco industry.

But it's not just tobacco. Whenever industries have discovered that their profits depended on sacrificing other people -- like for example, the asbestos and chemical industries -- they've done their best to hide or deny the truth. Is there an exception?

For the energy companies to protect their profits by persuading millions of people to reject science would be nothing unusual.  The stakes may be unprecedented, given the potential catastrophes we may be unleashing, but the choice of greed over caring for the greater good would fit a pattern.
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It has been documented for well over a decade that climate change denial is largely funded by energy industries.  Like the tobacco company executives all claiming that they did not believe nicotine was addictive or that their products were killing people, oil companies know better than what they tell the public.

 (I was told by two inside sources that by the time of the George W. Bush presidency, the oil companies were acknowledging behind closed doors that the scientists' warnings were correct, but were resolved to maintain their campaign to prevent the American public from knowing the truth.)

Corporations protecting profits even at great cost to the greater good is no zebra or unicorn, but a common horse.
 
Then there's the relationship between the politicians and these huge energy corporations, among the richest and most powerful organizations in the world.  The Republicans, especially, have a history of doing their bidding,-- shouting "Drill, Baby, Drill," protecting the subsidies we taxpayers still pay out to oil companies long after the original reason for them vanished along with $15-a-barrel oil.  And this campaign to discredit the urgent warnings from the scientists that there's big danger ahead and we'd better start steering our ship away from that iceberg.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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in the   pure US- kind of  the way ... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Jun 27, 2013 at 3:05:58 PM
I worked for NASA in a group that supported the Ea... by Philip Pease on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:00:10 AM
Thank you for your fleshing out the picture from y... by Andrew Schmookler on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 1:00:39 PM
Corporations, by definition, have always had one a... by Jerry Lobdill on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 4:24:29 PM
"We have to break them up into units small enough ... by Andrew Schmookler on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 6:21:03 PM
How are we going to get such a law? I don't see it... by Jerry Lobdill on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 9:19:27 PM
...two more of your books--THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE,... by Jerry Lobdill on Sunday, Jun 30, 2013 at 4:56:56 AM
Global cooling was on the cover of Time in 1977 (... by KurtB on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 8:31:42 PM
I first wrote about global warming in my doctoral ... by Andrew Schmookler on Friday, Jun 28, 2013 at 10:42:14 PM
I hope you won your election. I have been thinking... by Jerry Lobdill on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 6:41:59 AM
 A weak rebuttal Andrew; obviously your docto... by KurtB on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 9:47:49 AM
From your apparently sticking with the idea that (... by Andrew Schmookler on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 10:34:22 AM
You could have saved comment space as I read your... by KurtB on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 8:29:08 PM
Whether or not you're confused, you've got me conf... by Andrew Schmookler on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 10:20:13 PM
"Climate change' regulation is but one of many pr... by KurtB on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 11:55:15 PM
Climate change, in my view, represents the opposit... by Andrew Schmookler on Sunday, Jun 30, 2013 at 9:25:21 AM
Perhaps I need to digress and point out that I vie... by KurtB on Sunday, Jun 30, 2013 at 11:39:56 AM
You speak of "corporations operating within nation... by Andrew Schmookler on Sunday, Jun 30, 2013 at 12:41:41 PM
More quotations from the Science News article... by Andrew Schmookler on Saturday, Jun 29, 2013 at 10:36:55 AM