Showing posts with label Global Climate Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global Climate Change. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sir, With Much Respect, I Encourage You To Keep This Up!

A rite of spring - the calving of an iceberg

I'm from Newfoundland, known not only as the place where the events portrayed in the hit musical Come From Away take place, but also one of the best places on earth to view an annual parade of icebergs.

Newfoundland's icebergs "calve" off the glaciers on the west coast of Greenland. They break off in late winter/early spring, and make their way via the Labrador current out into the north Atlantic ocean. Then, they hug the coastline of the island of Newfoundland, gradually losing mass as they enter warmer waters below the 49th parallel until they melt entirely away - usually at some point just south of the Grand Banks.

Historically, the number of ice bergs that can be found in the northwestern Atlantic varies from year to year. In an average year, the peak of iceberg season (usually late May) would see a few hundred ice bergs drifting in the transatlantic shipping lanes. As of the first week of April, 2017, more than 400 ice bergs had already been counted in the area. The average for early April is about 80 bergs.

A warning by USCG ice patrol Commander Gabrielle McGrath notes that, early this month, three icebergs were found outside the boundaries of the area the Coast Guard had advised mariners to avoid and she is predicting a fourth consecutive “extreme ice season” with over 600 icebergs in the shipping lanes during the peak of the 2017 season. 
John Konrad, gCaptain, April 19, 2017.

People who deny the reality of global climate change can spew their pseudo-science but Newfoundlanders know this is not normal. The effects of all that sea ice and the hugely increased number of ice bergs are numerous and not limited to just the ice. The increased ice keeps the ocean temperature offshore colder later into the year, too. Apart from a longer colder spring (and in Newfoundland, spring is an often miserable, foggy, wet, cold season), the colder ocean temperature means that the annual capelin spawning season has been pushed later and later into the summer. The capelin roll that used to happen in early June every year, is now occurring in mid July and even as late as early August. Whales travel to Newfoundland in summer to feed on the capelin and it is not yet known how this altered capelin season may effect the whales migratory habits and wellbeing.

Global warming is the cause of many similar cascading effects around the planet. The effects of global climate change on ice, capelin and whales are just the tip of the iceberg regarding how planetary ecosystems may be disrupted by the changes. Some we already can predict and it is possible that there will be many more effects that we cannot yet foresee.

Some people, like William Happer, you'd think would be able to grasp science - being a physicist and all -but no. Maybe, since his discipline is physics and not climate science, the professor simply cannot comprehend the overwhelming conclusions of the vast majority of climate scientists that global climate change is real and it is being accelerated by human activity.

Then again, his penchant for comparing the work of climatologists to Nazis (WTF!) throws up a vaguely familiar flag. Happer has been vying for a position in the Trump administration. So, there's that to consider.

The world is a complex ecosystem and sometimes we just need someone to explain things in plain language to help make sense of things. Enter Bill Nye, the science guy! Nye is well-known for making science fun and interesting to kids, so he is probably the best possible person to explain the danger of ignoring climate change to the ignorant - and the willfully ignorant - in the Republican party.

"Sir, with some respect, I encourage you to cut this out..." 
Bill Nye to William Clapper

A mechanical engineer, Bill seems to be about as qualified to speak about climate science as Happer the physicist. More trustworthy, too, since Nye is not vying for a job in a corrupt, science-denying administration and has little to gain by it. Of course, a couple of minutes of air time and even less for each member of the panel, didn't give Bill much time to get a message across about the science of global warming, so he used his time in an even better way: to school Happer on his willful ignorance and misleading of the public, and to draw attention to the false equivalency that various media perpetuate in their eagerness to appear to be "even-handed".

Check it out:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow in Phoenix?

Not what I had in mind.

Of course there is snow in Phoenix.

NiftyDottir and I are going there tomorrow to catch some sunshine!

And we get to fly out in a snowstorm, too!  Whoopee!

Damn you, Mother Nature! (but remember, kids, global climate change is a hoax!).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The History of Climate Change Negotiations in 83 Seconds

via ciceroinfo

Concerned citizens were pleased and relieved, during yesterday's inaugural address, to hear President Obama publicly recognise global climate change as one of the great challenges facing the world. The President signalled that he is formulating a strategy to handle the determined opposition in the Republican-controlled House. That will be great for putting our own house in order, but what of the rest of the world?

This little video cleverly recaps the deucedly difficult state of negotiations for carbon emissions reduction among the world's nations.

Fair warning: the tune has massive ear worm potential!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh, Sandy! Why You Make Mitt Look Foolish?

The line is:
 “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans (13 second pause)
And to heal the planet (3 second pause)
My promise is to help you and your family.”

Watch it carefully because the delivery is a meticulously choreographed mime. Romney breaks his gaze from the audience, and does a little eyes to heaven, lip biting act that is all about communicating clearly to the audience that this is not a podium style rhetorical pause ( such as “think not what your country can do for you…….) but a Jack Benny stand up comedy pause. The body language suggests that he is like a long suffering but resigned parent holding in his real views about the President’s ‘stupidity’.  Watch it and see what I mean. 
George Marshall, Climate Change Denial, August 31, 2012. (see video below)

The news from the northeast this morning is both uplifting and sobering. The people of New York and New Jersey have surged into recovery mode with energy and determination. Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast harder than any other storm in memory, and yet this morning public transportation services have all reopened (the fare is free for the next couple of days!): bus service is 80% back on the streets, limited subway service has begun again and the Amtrak train service is also up and running, albeit with limitations in the hardest hit areas. If it isn't under water or hasn't suffered severe flood or storm damage, the people of the northeast are putting it back to work! That is the spirit of American resilience. It is also - crucially - the effect of a well-prepared and well-funded public infrastructure. My hat is off to the people who were affected by Sandy all through the eastern half of the country.

I wrote earlier this month about the danger of the willful blindness - some would call it criminal negligence - of those unholy allies: corporate special interests and the religious right. Scientists, environmentalists and thousands of ordinary citizens have recognized for decades that human lives on this planet are in peril and that we must take action to reverse the damage before it is too late. But powerful lobbies of energy corporations - backed up by religious hardliners with an eschatological agenda - embarked on a systematic campaign of climate change denial. In a self-serving exercise which may go down in history as the worst ever crime against humanity, they succeeded in suppressing the scientific data, creating an utterly false "controversy" and undermining the scientific community's effort to warn the world.

And we have been allowing it to happen.

Mitt Romney's sarcastic jab at the President about sea level rise - not to mention his party's enthusiastic laughter - points to a kind of insanity which has infected American society like a relentless and deadly virus. The tragedy of it all is that we knew better. We know better. We had the science and we had the engineering know-how to slow down the greenhouse effect which has accelerated the earth's natural warming cycle so precipitously. We have (or at least we did have) the ability to slow global climate change - maybe just long enough to develop coping strategies for the new age of melted polar ice and increasingly violent storms, droughts and deluges - but we have allowed plutocrats to call the shots, using religious fanaticism to sway enough voters to defeat greenhouse gas mitigation initiatives.

The United States has always had a dangerous vulnerability in that the vast swathe of good, sensible moderate Americans have always had a fatal blind spot: uncritical respect for religious belief. We have always given religion too much credit as a force for "good" in society, even when it is blatantly perpetrating evil.  Perhaps to protect our own cherished religious identity, we have been too willing to ascribe extreme and harmful religious beliefs to fringe groups out there somewhere who are not "real Christians" like ourselves or anyone we actually know.

What we keep forgetting is that effective religious leadership and indoctrination can transform millions of followers into foot soldiers for evil. We forget that authoritarian movements in the 20th century appealed to religious belief to justify their vicious regimes, yet the ordinary people - believers all - had little sense that it was they who had allowed evil to happen. Religious belief suspends moral judgement. It opens the door for scriptural justification of immoral behavior - everything from lying to mass murder can be justified by the Bible - and lets in opportunists who intend to cash in on that fact.

In The United States thirty years ago, those opportunists were energy corporations and other special interests who stood to gain from climate change denial and Christian Dominionists who, with corporate financial backing,  hoped to gain power enough to completely control the United States and eventually the world. Corporations had money for climate change denial campaigns, but needed popular support to get business-friendly congressmen elected. Christian Evangelicals had the potential to rally millions of voters and a religious zeal for Christian Dominionism which saw opportunity in corporate financial backing for their proselytizing effort. In the early days of the global environmental movement, energy plutocrats joined forces with ambitious Christian evangelicals under the Republican party banner to further their separate goals through political power.

More than a generation has passed since that unholy alliance was forged by the Reagan Republicans. That political victory ushered in a new era of corporate deregulation and religious infiltration into the public sphere. While huge corporations enjoyed historic tax cuts and corporate welfare, draining the public coffers on one side, Christianists' power grew through schools, colleges and the homeschooling movement (rejuvenated and expanded in the Reagan era). The reality-denying, Bible-based belief system was disseminated throughout the culture eventually moving into the mainstream as the religious influences on education, media and the public perception of reality became ubiquitous and seemingly unstoppable.

We let down our guard against the dark underside of religious belief. We stood by smiling tolerantly as religion quietly and stealthily renewed its campaign to take over western society. On some level, most of us know that religion has ferociously demanded to rule the world for most of human history, yet, how quickly we 'forget' when challenging Christian Dominionism might threaten our own cozy Christian identities!  How easily we believe that "American Exceptionalism" means that destructively radical religion cannot happen here.

We did not protest as religion attacked science in schools and in society, even as the theories and scientific discoveries - truthful reality upon which nearly all of modern medicine and technology are built - were being treated as mere rival "beliefs" to the supernatural Bible-based mythology of the religious.  We did not point to the hypocrisy and irrationality of religious extremists both using modern medical research and claiming that the science upon which it rests is false. We allowed false religious mythology to be injected into public education as science, misleading a generation of schoolchildren and undermining our ability to compete in the world of technological and scientific progress while we pretended that Christian fundamentalism was a fringe movement and a benign one at that. Thanks to the gutting of public education and the rise of "Christian" schools, nearly half of all Americans no longer accept the theory of evolution, deny global climate change is happening and believe that the world will come to an end during their lifetimes.

These people will vote Republican, the party which is owned by the energy corporations in whose interest it remains to limit environmental protection laws and to deny that human-assisted global climate change poses a real threat to human life on this planet. They think they can buy their way to safety. What is your plan?

We allowed this to happen. But we can stop it from continuing.

Vote on November 6!

"He didn’t simply dismiss global warming, or reject policies intended to address or mitigate against sea level rise, which is closely tied to global warming. Politicians do those things all the time. It’s ill-informed and irresponsible. But Romney took this a step further: he used the very idea of controlling sea level rise as a mere rhetorical device, a laugh line to mock Barack Obama‘s grandiosity. And he milked it for a few long seconds as the crowd at the Republican National Convention laughed...
 This is becoming a severe social and political problem because so many people around the world, and millions of them in the United States (including Romney’s Boston headquarters) are located along coastlines. Approximately 10% of the world’s population lives at elevations of 10 meters or less above sea level, the Science paper notes, and many of these places suffer from subsidence, erosion, and other problems that hasten their exposure and possible demise.
 The biggest risk here is from storms, which can suddenly pump up sea levels by many meters, with little warning. People like living near coastlines, and, in the U.S. and other parts of the developed world, coastal development has surged in recent years. But most assumptions for development and flood protection assume a certain stability that no longer exists. Denying this (as some state and local governments are doing) is crazy: sooner or later, the people living in these places, and the businesses they built there, will pay the price.
 So Romney’s notion that helping families and protecting communities against sea level rise are somehow diametrically opposed is silly. He knows better."
The polar ice cap is melting and sea levels are rising...
 President Obama has pledged to do something about it.
Mitt Romney pretends he has a direct line to God, and
condescendingly cracks jokes for his base who think they
will be able to buy their way to safety while the rest of the
world can go to hell.
Romney's Rising Oceans Joke, John McQuaid, Forbes, August 31, 2012.

It is also a step change in the way that politicians talk publicly about climate change.  So this is no longer a debate about the science, or  the policy response (as it was under Bush)- it is now a debate about competing versions of reality and fantasy. The line about slowing the rise of the oceans is skillfully chosen as it frames climate change as both a natural cycle and an inevitability. The mocking pause clearly signals that attempts to stop it are therefore a self aggrandising  folly. Here in Britain the resonance would be with King Cnut (Canute) who ordered the tide to stop coming in. I suspect in America is more likely to be with Moses. It is a quote that appears on some Christian Conservative sites as evidence that Obama claims to be the Messiah.
Romney Channels Beck, George Marshall, Climate Change Denial, August 31, 2012.

If you’ve followed the U.S. news and weather in the past 24 hours you have no doubt run across a journalist or blogger explaining why it’s difficult to say that climate change could be causing big storms like Sandy. Well, no doubt here: it is.
Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Sandy? Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, October 30, 2012.

Is Global Warming Happening Faster Than Expected?  John Carey, Scientific American, October 29, 2012. (excerpt from an earlier article).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Christian Conservatives Hate The World...Therefore Climate Change Denial

"Immediately after the distress of those days " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' 30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:29-31:29

This month in Scientific American magazine, there is a fascinating in-depth account of the history of the Christian conservative anti-science movement which has ebbed and flowed in this country for nearly 200 years. The concluding paragraph sums up this critical issue very well:

In an age when science influences every aspect of life—from the most private intimacies of sex and reproduction to the most public collective challenges of climate change and the economy—and in a time when democracy has become the dominant form of government on the planet, it is important that the voters push elected officials and candidates of all parties to explicitly state their views on the major science questions facing the nation. By elevating these issues in the public dialogue, U.S. citizens gain a fighting chance of learning whether those who would lead them have the education, wisdom and courage necessary to govern in a science-driven century and to preserve democracy for the next generation. (Shawn Lawrence Otto, America's Science Problem).

"President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise
of the oceans and to heal the planet." What a good joke!
NPR has a related story today about conservative climate change denial and how it is affecting the 2012 election. At the RNC convention in Tampa, the guffaws from the Republican faithful at Mitt Romney's thinly veiled coded "joke" pointed to not only global climate change denial, but to an even more sinister truth about conservative Christian theology. They laugh about denial, because it is a political tool to further their religious agenda. It is possible that many conservatives understand very well that global warming is happening, but that fact is actually a source of gleeful satisfaction to the true believer, not a cause for concern. So why do they publicly deny it? The policy of denial is necessary in order to block any efforts by sane people to slow down or stop human activity that contributes to global warming. Evangelicals see this climate crisis as part of the end times, the most highly anticipated and welcome event in the conservative Christian mind.

There is something I think people must understand every time they read examples of the often incoherent dishonesty of Christian apologists as they deny the reality of global climate change: Christians want the world to end. In their religious delusion, they really do believe that it is necessary for the world to be destroyed in order to bring about the return of their Messiah, and they welcome the end of the world. 

This truth cannot be overstated: conservative Christians despise the World™. They deny the importance of this mortal life. It is a religion of self-loathing where the only relief for the wretched sinner is not in this life - on this earth - but in another "life" after death.  The entire point of Christianity is to deny that this life is all we may have, to disparage the efforts of human beings to improve this life for themselves and others, and to work toward bringing about the end of this world, so that their bronze-age mythical "prophesies" can be brought to fruition. This is not hyperbolic fear-mongering. Christians are open about this. They consider it to be "good news".

Standing up to the propaganda of religious madness,
the President is the adult on the national stage.
In the larger conservative movement, there was a concerted effort to undermine efforts to slow global warming combined with propaganda "education" designed to mislead people into thinking that there is a scientific "controversy" over whether global warming was an actual phenomenon. There is no controversy about global climate change: the scientific community is unanimous that it is happening and that it has been greatly accelerated by human activity. As with their successful effort to convince more than half the population of the lie that Evolutionary theory is scientifically "controversial", conservative groups managed to undermine the trust that people once had in scientific research, leaving the population adrift in a sea of religious lunacy and doubt.

From time to time, a thinking Christian speaks up, trying to sound the alarm, but even knowing how much is at stake, he is careful not to offend the powerful religious majority. Even the rational Christians who claim not to agree with the extremists will not break away from the power and privilege that belonging to that group gives them. They know on what side their bread is buttered and they hope to continue to perform a balancing act between what they know is morally right and their desire to remain aligned with power. The agenda of Christian fundamentalism has become a juggernaut and it has swept all other voices to the fringes.

Global warming denial propaganda funded by
conservative groups with Christian ties like the
Heartland Institute helped to sway public opinion
against the scientific reality.
Every effort that science makes to warn about or mitigate global warming is met with fierce resistance by powerful lobbyists backed by radical fundamentalist Christian groups. One fact canot be stressed enough: These groups want the world to come to an end. With the irrational zeal of true believers, they welcome mass death, destruction and horror because they imagine themselves to be the "elect" - the tiny group of their god's favored people who will not be destroyed in the cataclysm that they are doing their utmost to bring about.

There won't be any satisfaction for the rest of us if and when these fools discover that they and their descendants will perish along with all those they hate if they succeed in setting the world on a final path to global catastrophe. It won't matter that they were dangerously, madly wrong and we were right. The only thing that matters is that we find the courage to speak up now and take action now to slow down the disaster.

A few items to read and ponder:

Fact: June 2012 was the 4th hottest month since record-keeping began in 1880.  It was the 328th consecutive month that global temperatures have remained above the 20th century average.

Here is the sort of story which will warm the cockles of the fundamentalist's heart, while it chills the blood of people who care about humanity.

Mother Jones, The state of climate change denial.

Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy, Shawn Lawrence Otto, Scientific American, October 17, 2012.

Equal time to truth and bullshit, from No brain left behind.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thorsday - Our Greatest Challenge

Science offers answers to the enormous challenge of global climate change. It would take world co-operation but we can do this.


[David Attenborough]
We are a flexible and innovative species and we have the capacity to adapt and modify our behavior Now, we most certainly have to do so if we're to deal with climate change. It's the biggest challenge we have yet faced.
[Bill Nye]
The same thing that keeps the Earth warm
May make the Earth too warm
It holds in heat

Methane, Chloroflourocarbons, water vapor and
Carbon dioxide - they all trap heat

[Isaac Asimov]
It is important that the world get together
To face the problems which attack us as a unit

[Richard Alley]
The evidence is clear
The globe is getting too warm
We can avoid climate catastrophies
We can do this

We can change the world
Science offers us answers
To these huge challenges]
It's one global ecosoystem
We can do this
We can change the world

Every single thing every one of us does
Affects everybody all over the world
It's one global ecosystem

Warm, wet, cold or dry
Climates all start in the sky

When the C02 is high, the temperature is high
Moving together in lock step
When the C02 is low, the temperature is low
Moving together


[Richard Alley]
Our use of fossil fuels for energy is pushing us towards a climate
unlike any seen in the history of civilization

Adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere
Warms things up
The rise in C02
Comes from burning fossil fuels

When you burn them, add oxygen
That makes C02 that goes in the air
We're reversing the process by which they formed

We're talking about something
That affects the entire Earth
Problems that transcend nations


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2012 Drought Update

via Lousy Canuck.

It's hard to believe that people still deny that global climate change/global warming is a fact.

Monday, July 16, 2012

But, Climate Change Denial Is Better For Business!

Rising sea levels? What rising sea levels?

Another wave of wingnut stupidity from the Know-nothing/Do-nothing brigade: 

"Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up.  It’s really embarrassing for me to write this, but the legislature of my native North Carolina has made it illegal for public officials to consider current rates of sea level rise as they plan for the future."  Relax Outer Banks: NC legislature outlaws sea level rise, Kaid Benfield, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog).

Although scientific evidence increasingly shows that fossil fuel consumption has caused the climate to change rapidly, the issue has grown so politicized that skepticism of the broad scientific consensus has seeped into classrooms.
Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.
In May, a school board in Los Alamitos, Calif., passed a measure, later rescinded, identifying climate science as a controversial topic that required special instructional oversight.  Climate change skepticism seeps into science classrooms,  Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau, LA Times.

A survey of U.S. high school biology teachers published in the journal Science in 2011 that found about 13 percent of those surveyed "explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light."
The survey found only about 28 percent consistently followed National Research Council recommendations for introducing evidence that evolution occurred.

The rest, about 60 percent, avoided controversy by limiting evolution instruction to molecular biology, telling students they need not believe in evolution to score well on tests, or exposing students to all positions, scientific and otherwise, to let them make up their own minds, the article said.  Tennessee teacher law could boost creationism, climate change denial, Deborah Zabarenko, Chicago Tribune.

Here is a link to the cached article in Science Daily which discusses the study findings mentioned in the quote above:  High school biology teachers reluctant to endorse evolution, Science Daily, January 2011.

This next article is frankly too depressing to quote. Just go read it and read the sources Ms. Boxall refers to in the article: Earth May be near tipping point, Bettina Boxall, LA Times.

I'll leave it to the finest skeptical wordsmith I know to sum up the last article above.  In hir own inimitable style, the Digital Cuttlefish describes our current situation as the industrial and religious agendas dovetail with human apathy and gullibility, creating the conditions for a perfect storm of global crisis for our children and grandchildren in verse:

"We could maybe make a difference
If we alter our behavior—
If we change the things we’re doing that are bad
But it’s easier and cheaper
Just to pray there’ll be a savior
And to put our faith in Jesus and His Dad"

Digital Cuttlefish, We Are All So Screwed

Now that would just be a waste of time and money, amirite?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First Evolution, Next Global Climate Change!

Recap of the February conference of American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Clips of Republican Rick Santorum highlighting the scary anti-science, anti-earth ideology of Republican party hardliners.

Short, excellent interview with Chris Mooney, science journalist, who places the blame on religion and libertarian economic ideology (which often go hand in hand due to the unholy alliance between business and the religious right dating back to the Reagan era).


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mother Nature Wept

Thousands of dead jellyfish wash up on South Carolina beach, 26 March 2012

On a stroll along a local beach yesterday, my son took the photo above. Thousands of dead jellyfish had washed ashore and were scattered in a broad swath along (at least) eleven miles of South Carolina coast. Not visible in the photo are the thousands of sand dollars which had met a similar fate. Since we had never seen anything like this in the fifteen years that we have been visiting this coast, I expressed my dismayed concern and wondered out loud what could have caused such a massive die off.

My intelligent and intellectually curious son explained to me that many marine animals are very sensitive to what may seem like slight variations in sea temperature or other features of their ocean habitat. The mass deaths of a significant population of two species at the same time probably points to an unusual shift in temperature or some other environmental factor which can probably be measured - as long as there are scientists presently employed to record and study such events.

As my son and I discussed the possible causes of this die off of marine life forms, I was reminded once more of the strangely misogynistic, yet laughably stupid anthropomorphism of natural events that seems to be so much a part of theism.  The kernel of a disturbing idea began to sprout in my mind as I realized that the tendency of the religious to blame "Mother Nature" for natural disasters serves an even darker purpose than I first realized.

My son appreciates and understands that scientific research is important to our understanding of ecosystems on our planet. He makes a point to learn about the world around him. Fundamentalist religionists believe that everything they need to know about the world can be found in their holy books. They make a point not to learn about the world around them if it might in any way contradict their holy books.  More chillingly, they attempt to suppress any knowledge that cannot be found in their holy books. Knowledge which they fear might undermine the "truth" they believe is contained within those pages - thus reducing the power wielded by those who claim to be able to interpret "god's word" - must be resisted.

The obvious example of this deliberate ignorance is the denial of the fact of evolutionary biology by religious fundamentalists. For well over a century, devout Christians in the developed world have not only refused to accept the truth of evolutionary theory, but have actively worked to ban the teaching of evolutionary science in public schools.  Less obvious to me was the connection between fundamentalist religiosity and climate change denial. Yesterday, a flashbulb went off in my mind.

The increased frequency of storms and other unpleasant natural phenomena is caused by global climate change. Global climate change, in turn, is an effect caused by many factors including the impact of human behavior on the planet. There is virtually no controversy within the scientific community on this point. The vast majority of the world's scientists have concluded that it is human behavior which has rapidly increased the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, greatly speeding up what should be a 10-20,000 years long natural warming cycle of the planet. The evidence is undeniable. Yet, people deny it.

The stupidity - the apparent insanity - of climate change denial can be somewhat understood in the context of the overarching irrationality of theism.  Some of the most committed climate change denial comes from theists. More specifically, climate change denial is asserted by pseudo-scientific groups created by theists to generate sciency-sounding "explanations" for natural events that can be squeezed into the tiny, primitive scope of their religious texts. These groups, with legitimate-sounding names like The Discovery Institute are financed by an unholy alliance of churches and corporations which benefit from climate change denial through lax environmental protections.

Some corporations - notably energy corporations - have long been fighting a dirty war of obfuscation and outright lies against the global consensus of experts that the human impact on climate change is real. Energy corporations have spent millions over the decades lobbying against environmental protection legislation and enlisting the help of scientists-for-hire to argue against the mounting scientific evidence that global warming is an urgent concern and it is greatly hastened by the consumption of fossil fuels.

Your friendly "environmental
think tank" sponsor
The "global climate change" issue really warmed up in the 1980's just as the religious right was beginning to enjoy the fruits of its own campaign of lies and fear-mongering to change public opinion on various social issues. It seems that corporate and religious leaders realized in those early days of the current war on liberalism that if they joined forces on the climate change issue, there could be benefits for them both. The energy corporations needed the religious groups to lend moral legitimacy to their greed. The religious groups wanted access to the political power that wealthy corporations have long enjoyed.

Another factor in the fundamentalist Christian role in climate change denial is that the fact that human activity can change the natural cycle of our planet flies in the face of Bible-based creationism. Just like the theory of evolution, the theory of global climate change threatens theists' core belief system. So, just like evolution, acceptance of climate change must be not only denied, but as widely suppressed as possible.

Exactly as with the theory of evolution, the suppression methods of choice were the introduction of false evidence to plant doubt, the hiring of unscrupulous "scientists" to refute both the evidence and the consensus of the worldwide scientific community, and the use of growing political power to prevent accurate teaching about global climate change in public schools while fighting to cut funding to scientific research on the subject. In churches and Bible-studies, Christians were primed with sciency-sounding "research", backed up with scripture, to entrench doubts about global warming in particular and the scientific community in general.

How should a Christian view global warming?

A god of constant sorrows
Elected officials usually will not risk revealing their religious biases by publicly attributing tornados or hurricanes to a god's wrath, unlike some religious celebrities, but they communicate the supernatural message anyway by mentioning "Mother Nature", instead.  Subversively deifying a storm is a fiendishly clever way of spreading the meme that climate research is pointless: nothing for science to see here! A god did it! Disguising the mythical male deity in a malevolent, amoral female persona, thus reinforcing the institutionalized and systemic misogyny of religion in the same stroke, is just an added bonus.

Contrary to the bizarrely slanderous opinion of Mitch Daniels and company, however, Mother Nature is not an unpredictable pseudo-deity who "chooses" to lash at the earth (and its hapless inhabitants) whenever her cruelly capricious whims move her to do so. That would be another, more popular, imaginary deity. Gov. Daniels obviously had Mother Nature confused with his own viciously violent imaginary friend.

"Mother" Nature does not exist.  Only "Nature" is a real thing in this world, and it is neither cruel nor capricious. Nature has no intentionality because it is not a being, not a deity, not a self-conscious, supernatural force. No matter how powerfully humankind may wish there to be gods (even a "natural" god like "Mother Nature"), nor how fervently theists may claim we must be "hardwired" to look for evidence of consciousness in the random events in the universe, there is nothing of the sort. Nor, in my opinion, should we waste precious energy wishing for such a thing to exist.

Nature simply is.  It is the wondrous and amazing interactions of natural phenomena which make up this vast universe.  Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; droughts and floods: blizzards, hurricanes and tornados - these are all scientifically explainable events. They are the natural effects of natural causes. And that is far more interesting and amazing than any manmade gods.

Some interesting reading:

The truth about denial, Sharon Begley, Newsweek (13 August 2007)

Evangelical Christians deeply divided..., Heather Goldstone, (31 May 2011)

Explosion in jellyfish numbers may lead to ecological disaster, The Guardian, (11 June 2011)

Why conservative white males..., Julia Pyper, (5 October 2011)

Greenland icebergs breaking off..., Charles Q. Choi, (11 December 2011)

Marine ecology: Attack of the blobs,  Mark Schrope,, (1 February 2012)

Climate Change: A planet in flux,  John P. Smol, (29 February 2012)

Ocean Science: The power of plankton,  Paul Falkowski, (29 February 2012)

And algae shall inherit the earth, Chris Hillier, Trade Secrets (blog), via (20 March 2012)

Damn you,  Mother Nature!