Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Retiring NAS President Livid Over Climate Deniers & The Political Polarization Spawned
Retiring National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone expressed anger regarding partisanship associated with climate change.
In an interview in Eos: Earth & Space Science News (12 August, p. 5) retiring President of the National Academy of Sciences Ralph Cicerone denounced the continued political polarization associated with climate change as "a threat to science". Indeed it is, because if uninformed people are just allowed to pick and choose their own versions of science, totally rejecting the scientific method and current foundations, then what we get is a free for all. And in that case, the very survival of our science not to mention the human and other inhabitants of the planet, may be at stake. Cicerone's point is that rapidly changing climatic conditions from melting glaciers to rising sea levels are nothing to be toyed with, or used for exercises in phony rhetoric.
Cicerone, in a brief published interview with Eos, asserted he was especially disappointed with the ongoing "rabid partisanship surrounding climate change". A lot of that disappointment has to single out his fellow citizens who remain proudly defiant in their scientific ignorance and repeatedly display confounding chutzpah. This is in respect to invoking a specious brand of economics (market fundamentalism) to attempt to overturn sound climate science and replace it with pseudo science.
Cicerone's disgust extends to the recent congressional "show trial" grilling of climate experts and officials, as well as moves to limit geoscience funding at the National Science Foundation and elsewhere. He observed:
"The most frustrating thing has been these political developments around climate change. We are trashing our institutions.. For example, the antigovernment feelings that anything the federal government touches is somehow dirty and wasteful and somehow morally wrong. That drive me crazy."
Well, it drives me crazy too, especially when I see a lot of it emanating from putative high I.Q. societies like Mensa and Intertel wherein you'd expect the members to have more than air between the ears. A case in point has been how some of these denizens use their political ideology (Libertarianism) as a cudgel to try to undermine the value of any governmental investigations of anthropogenic climate change.
I noted one of these supposed high I.Q. characters, Kort Patterson of Intertel, who actually wrote in his Region 7 Newsletter (Port of Call, June/July 2016, p. 6)
"Many people continue to believe the lies and demand that Western Industrial Civilization commit cultural suicide by adopting the crippling constraints sought by the global warming conspirators."
This foolish curmudgeon actually attempts to turn the tables on the real scientists, painting them as the liars when it is his politically brainwashed (and scientifically illiterate) lot who are sowing the disinformation and half-baked conspiracy theories about "global warming alarmism". See e.g.
With belligerent nuts like Patterson slamming the science it's no wonder many of the more uninformed and weaker -minded will tag along, believing him to be some kind of voice "crying in the wilderness". This, as opposed to seeing he's more a semi-educated poppet with too much time on his hands from his computer tech job.
The most damnable and irritating aspect of these "high I.Q." Libbie looneytunes is their penchant for misusing their own intelligence to condemn legitimate scientific research instead of making a fair effort to understand it. As I noted in a previous blog post (on the "Intelligent Irrationalists") this lot finds it more to their liking to simply avoid doing the hard research into climate change. They evidently lack the time (or inclination) to evaluate every piece of relevant evidence that comes before them (say ice cores containing CO2) so basically punt. Instead of rationally and objectively evaluating the evidence they side with the top bananas in their political group in using a dime store grasp of economics to lambaste standard science.
None of them, I warrant, could pass even a basic 1st year college test on thermal physics the foundation for understanding basic climate change and global warming, see e.g. this test:
At the same time, they have outsized influence on others thinking, especially those ensconced in the high I.Q. organizations. For some reason, probably the lure of the "individualist" or "liberty" cachet, they draw many of like mind too line up behind their ignorance.
But it's maddening to those of us who understand the actual science, and even more infuriating to be called "frauds" and "alarmists" by these semi-literate nincompoops who don't know an atmospheric forcing component from a Btu.
Cicerone himself was just as livid as he responded to one question (ibid.):
"I did not see the severity of the attacks on science coming. I'm still hoping it's going to go away quickly, but it's been hard to deal with because it has raised a whole set of questions. When do we have to stand up and say that all of science is being tarred with the same brush."
The problem, of course, is that arguing logically or rationally with climate change deniers is as fruitless and futile as arguing with evolution deniers. In each case, a firm commitment to personal beliefs trumps the science and assumes priority in the denier's mind. This is exactly what we mean by false belief syndrome: a person so threatened by the indisputable facts of the science (whether Darwinian evolution or climate science) that he feels compelled to erect an elaborate psychological defense for security. Within this defensive psychological perimeter he will use fake science (and assorted contrarian clowns) to defend his beliefs to the bitter end. Given this, no amount of factual appeal will change his mind.
"You'll have to pry these beliefs from my cold, dead brain!"
If this is the case, and I believe that it is, then the political polarization and antagonism to science will not end quickly. We can stand up to the nonsense and ignorance, of course, and even try to be patient with the more rational elements of the denier contingent. But ultimately it boils down to a choice: the preservation of science or elevating the ignorance inherent in denialism to an art form. In that case, I stand with the preservation of science and take out my verbal sword to use on the deniers every chance I get.