A Reminder, In the Form of an Old, Queasy-Funny Joke

Picture the scene:  two elderly Jewish men on a bench, in early ’30s Berlin. One is staring, astonished, at the other, who has just unfolded a copy of Julius Streicher‘s Der Stürmer — the notorious, viciously anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper.

“Why are you reading that trash?” asked the first man.

“It makes me feel good!” answered his old friend.

“Good? — That rag! All it says is how terrible the Jews are.”

“Exactly! Whenever I have a bad day, when I can’t sleep, when I’m unsure…I just pick up my newspaper,” the second man said.  “I reach for my newspaper and read  how the Jews  control the banks, the press, everything!”

He added, “I never knew we had such power!”

Now imagine we’re talking climate scientists, and think of the sustained attack on the individuals  in and the intellectual apparatus of the study of anthropogenic global warming from the organized right, the GOP, and the vast wealth of the herd of  Kochs and Scaifes and all their ilk.

We learn in the climate denialist community how climate scientists have somehow managed to organize a vast international, multi-decade conspiracy to foist the fraud of climate change on an unsuspecting public and their governments.

[This picture was supposed to go here — but FYWP]

They’ve done so with no defections from the ranks, and for rewards that are either   corrupt  — all those vast stacks of ducats that accrue to those who count tree-rings — or mere religious delusion, that dolatrous worship of Mother Earth.

Who knew?  Who could have guessed that mild-mannered atmospheric physicists, ice dynamicists, solar physicists and all the rest were so well organized, and had such power as to be able to perpetrate a deception unprecedented in the history of human knowledge.

All of which is to say that in less than an hour, at 5 p.m. EDT, you can listen to a conversation* I’m going to have with Michael E. Mann, lead author on the now famous “hockey stick” papers, about what we know, what we need to investigate, and what it’s like to face the full career-and-reputation threatening wrath of the anti-science forces in our polity.  We’ll also discuss what we can do to shift the balance of the debate, and perhaps the policy with which the US confronts climate change.  Michael is more optimistic than I am, and I’m going to try to find out why.

*That’s the link for the podcast later, too.

 

37 replies
  1. 1

    Not only that but according to such esteemed publications as Forbes, The Telegraph and (of course!) Fox News, wind power causes global climate change! Not really but … you’ll have to read past the headlines to get the real story!

  2. 2
    beltane says:

    Ah, the only thing more powerful than a climate scientist is a Jewish climate scientist.

  3. 3
    Surreal American says:

    I believe a variation of that joke dates back to Tsarist Russia.

  4. 4
    TK421 says:

    President Obama has signed an executive order allowing the government to punish anyone who criticizes the government of Yemen:

    http://www.emptywheel.net/2012.....of-the-eo/

  5. 5
    CVS says:

    The sad thing about all this hate against the climate scientists is this: even if, by some exceedingly small chance, the thousands of climate scientists are wrong — so what? Does it hurt to increase fuel economy, reduce carbon, etc? Even if they’re wrong, we’re all still better off in the long run.

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    Who could have guessed that mild-mannered atmospheric physicists, ice dynamicists, solar physicists and all the rest were so well organized, and had such power as to be able to perpetrate a deception unprecedented in the history of human knowledge.

    Snort. I know some people in this group. ‘well-organized’ is not generally the phrase I would use to describe many of them.

    Unless…

    …that’s just what they *want* us to think.

  7. 7
    4tehlulz says:

    JEWS DID AGW

  8. 8
    mclaren says:

    Global Warming is, of course, one of the three gigantic issues not even being discussed in this presidential election.

    The others? Peak Oil and global overpopulation.

    Unless we deal with these three issues promptly and wisely, we’re apt to find that homo sapiens will have gone the way of the tyrannosaur.

  9. 9
    Brachiator says:

    By the way, where ever magazines are still sold, the current issue of Skeptic Magazine contains a cover article on How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human Caused . A little more info on the article here.

    Aside from this, I look forward to listening to the discussion on this.

    Who knew? Who could have guessed that mild-mannered atmospheric physicists, ice dynamicists, solar physicists and all the rest were so well organized, and had such power as to be able to perpetrate a deception unprecedented in the history of human knowledge.

    Part of the problem here is that many of the denialists don’t see scientists at work. They see Al Gore leading a corps of liberal elitists scheming to emasculate America, render it poor and helpless, and redistribute wealth from hardworking business people using energy to make a living, and give it to unworthy nonwhites.

    Denialists don’t understand the science. They don’t even try, or they see it as no more complicated than the patter of a TV weathercaster. They don’t see the science, and they distort the political to match their fears.

  10. 10
    rlrr says:

    we’re apt to find that homo sapiens will have gone the way of the tyrannosaur.

    “Yay!”
    — Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Orangutans, etc.

  11. 11
    jayackroyd says:

    The chart at the top of this post explicates our problem very clearly.

    http://bit.ly/Jk7CBQ

    I do want to thank Tom for his Virtually Speaking Science contributions. His guests have been consistently great, and he always gives good discussion.

  12. 12
    David Koch says:

    Horrible how Streicher was executed for simply exercising his freedom of speech.

    /kooky-left’d

  13. 13
    4tehlulz says:

    @Brachiator: That’s the second issue they’ve done on AGW; I remember readying something similar a couple of years ago.

  14. 14
    japa21 says:

    @mclaren: Which would go to prove that scientists were wrong when they applied the term “homo sapiens” to the current human species. And if they are wrong about that, they obviously can be wrong about climate change.

  15. 15
    Lee says:

    I’m starting to hear more from the ‘we are already fucked, now all we can do is work on living with it while hopefully shortening how long the worst part lasts’ groups.

    Is there actual evidence for this?

  16. 16
    jl says:

    Aw come on, everyone knows research grants are easy money, kindly distributed by one’s kindly, and very very rich rich rich avuncular co conspirators.

    Oh, wait, maybe that is wingnut welfare I am talking about.

    Gimme a minute and I’ll go check and find out whether I made a mix up.

  17. 17
    redshirt says:

    If’n the LIEBERALS are a’fore it, well I’m again’ it!

  18. 18
    catclub says:

    @mclaren: “Be fruitful and multiply.” was in the first edition of the operating instructions that one tribe got. I have to believe some later editions will say:

    “Whoa! slow down on all the fruitful and multiplyin!”

    The idea that all revelations stopped somewhere with John and _his_ revelations,
    is harmful.

    … Or with Mohammed and his.

  19. 19
    Brachiator says:

    @4tehlulz:

    That’s the second issue they’ve done on AGW; I remember readying something similar a couple of years ago.

    Yeah. They keep coming back to this because climate change denialism is coming to resemble creationism. Opponents lie, keep returning to discredited arguments, rely on appeals to religion istead of science, etc.

    Some of the articles about climate change in this issue, Volume 14 Number 1 , are available for download.

    I recommend this one, How We Know Global Warming is Real

    BTW, some of the comments to this article are hard core denialism.

  20. 20
    tamied says:

    @mclaren: Good riddance.

  21. 21
    catclub says:

    You can tell that the scientists are not clued in to real money, because if they were, they would argue that you can make real money either: predicting effects of climate change
    (which real estate to buy and sell), or mitigating its effects with new energy technology and conservation methods.

    The Germans and the Chinese appear to be eating our lunch on the second item.

  22. 22
    chopper says:

    @4tehlulz:

    JEWS! Y U NO LEAVE PLANET ALONE?

  23. 23
    trollhattan says:

    @CVS:

    The sad thing about all this hate against the climate scientists is this: even if, by some exceedingly small chance, the thousands of climate scientists are wrong—so what? Does it hurt to increase fuel economy, reduce carbon, etc? Even if they’re wrong, we’re all still better off in the long run.

    Only if the Marketz(pbut) say so. You know, the same markets that gave us seatbelts, headrests, fuel injection, airbags, rear view mirrors, unleaded gasoline…(envision a list a mile long) on our cars.

  24. 24
    CVS says:

    @mclaren:

    The others? Peak Oil and global overpopulation

    Actually, I think the one thing that trumps all others, and is also not being discussed, is the capture of the government and various regulating agencies by a small group of powerful interests who successfully promote self-serving policies contrary to the needs of the majority of the population. If we can’t solve that problem, then the rest is academic.

  25. 25
    CVS says:

    @trollhattan:

    Only if the Marketz(pbut) say so. You know, the same markets that gave us seatbelts, headrests, fuel injection, airbags, rear view mirrors, unleaded gasoline…(envision a list a mile long) on our cars

    Indeed, and all of which were fought tooth and nail by those very same markets :-)

  26. 26
    Lee says:

    @Brachiator:

    Wow that is some serious denialism.

    I like the guy that posted to the chart that had parts per for N and Methane (ppb) on the same scale as CO2 (ppm).

  27. 27
    sparrow says:

    @mclaren: Eh, I still think there’s time for a population collapse (see, e.g., the Mayans) which effectively brings our population down to a more manageable size for the earth (or I guess, easy pickings for alien invaders, if I go with the Mayan analogy). Of course it would be horrific, but rather that than extinction. Hey, if we poison the environment enough but not TOO much we might bring fertility rates down too… just hopefully not to zero.

  28. 28
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @redshirt:

    DP

    Pr0n is everywhere!

  29. 29
    WereBear says:

    People who fall for this claptrap are people who have never met a scientist in their lives.

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @mclaren:

    Unless we deal with these three issues promptly and wisely

    Well, there you go. We’re fucked.

  31. 31
    El Cid says:

    Considering the immense power over culture that Starbucks baristas wage — they make all Republicans feel bad given the coffee-servers might look down at them, thus they have no defense — how much more godlike power must scientists wield?

  32. 32
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Brachiator:

    the current issue of Skeptic Magazine contains a cover article on How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human Caused .

    Great, if often quite uneven in quality, magazine. One of my favorites, even if they still spend too many column inches on debunking stupid paranormal stuff and claims about things like Bigfoot.

    Yes, they’ve begun treating global climate change denialism just like creationism, though this undoubtedly pisses off a fair number of their libertarian readers.

    Like pretty much every “sciencey” mass-market magazine, such as National Geographic and Discover and Scientific American. I’m not aware of any such publication that subscribes to climate denialism.

    If you want to see one significant indicator of why the 2012 election will be so close, look at the percentage of Americans who believe in Genesis over evolution, or climate change denialism over anthropogenic global climate change.

    The stubborn, pig-ignorant, anti-intellectual smugness is hard to overcome.

  33. 33
    Brachiator says:

    @DFH no.6:

    Great, if often quite uneven in quality, magazine. One of my favorites, even if they still spend too many column inches on debunking stupid paranormal stuff and claims about things like Bigfoot.

    There are people who prefer safe targets, and I get the impression that there are a number of libertarian readers of Skeptic Magazine who enjoyed feeling superior to the rubes who believe in ghosts and Bigfoot, who are now feeling distinctly uncomfortable when the skeptical lens is focused on their equally idiotic climate change denialism.

  34. 34
    danimal says:

    Climate change denialism will not follow the same trajectory as creationism for one simple reason: There is a lot of money at stake. To date, Big Oil has rallied the business community and GOP to fight their battle, but they are uneasy allies. Insurance companies and the DoD and Big Ag all need reliable climate science to prepare for future contingencies.

    Simple interest group politics will lead to a split in the denialist coalition, and probably sooner than later.

  35. 35

    What is actually really impressive about climate science is how they’ve managed to make such a sneaky takeover when * almost every* monied interest in the entire world would prefer them to be wrong. Sure, there are some tiny groups – solar energy, wind energy, tidal power, etc. – but all of the big money people would prefer them to be wrong.

    And yet still they cling to influence. It’s so amazing that, in any rational world, one would be forced to contemplate the possibility – I know it’s *insane* – that they might have strong evidence on their side.

    Thankfully, climate change deniers do not live in any rational world, so they’re not forced to contemplate that possibility, so they can bring us their truth.

  36. 36
    Ruviana says:

    @sparrow: I’m not a specialist in the Ancient Maya but the evidence of the “collapse” is vague. Couple of better examples? The epidemics (of imported European diseases) that killed as many as 90% of native Western Hemisphere dwellers in both N. and S. America. Oh, and that whole black plague thing in Europe. ‘Course, none of this would be pleasant…

  37. 37
    horse dave says:

    @Lee: I try to keep up by reading more technical AGW blogs like Climate Progress. As a wanna-be-scientist (I’m an engineer), I agree that the tone among the climate researches that post has become very negative. I do not know if this from their expectations for global climate or due to the well funded attacks from the denialists and “conservatives”. Probably both.

    The additional heat that is measured today is due to CO2 pumped into the atmosphere about 20 years ago and before. The excess heat is going into the ocean and melting ice so the earth is going to get warmer even if we could stay at the current ~400 ppm CO2.

    I have not seen any specific paper that absolutely says we’re effed but that’s not the way science works. There are discussions about tipping points but when they occur is speculation. The system is extremely complicated. If we warm to a point where vast amounts of methane are released into the atmosphere the resulting warming would be catastrophic and a significant portion of the biosphere would go the way of Breitbart. Though it might be a good time to be a jellyfish.

    It’s possible that even today’s CO2 levels could lead to this run-away warming in 20 years. Paleoclimatology does not show that current CO2 levels lead to runaway warming but warming of the last 30 years has been several orders of magnitude faster than than any time measurable from ice cores. There are countless other factors (ocean current dynamics, calthrate deposits, … ) that could change this prediction.

    I believe the prevailing attitude among climate scientist is that whether we’re effed or not (some think we’re effed others think we can still avert disaster) they have to work to understand, predict and mitigate the impending warming climate changes.

    Sorry for the long post

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