Joesph Romm is an outspoken critic of the seeming conservative rejection of mainstream climate science. He has cited polling data (e.g. here, here, here) which reflect a deep partisan divide in the United States on the issue. I myself have noted the disturbing disconnect between the official 2008 Republican platform and the GOP’s Presidential candidate’s ostensible position on the issue [and the less said about Jim Inhofe’s minority office for the Environment and Public Works Committee, the better]. I’d like to think that one of the most challenging issues of our time isn’t being dismissed by a large minority in this country on the basis of ideology.
Stephen Spruiell and Kevin Williamson writing for the National Review Online ask:
For instance, the bill grants NASA $450 million, but it states that the agency must spend at least $200 million on “climate-research missions,” which raises the question: Is there global warming in space?
I’m not even sure where to start with this. Let’s allow for the moment that this was some botched attempt at humor and not a serious question (although who can tell these days?). Are Messrs. Spruiell and Williamson implying that NASA’s sole focus should be on space exploration? If so, I’d like to remind them of the first objective laid out in the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established the Agency in 1958 [emphases mine]:
The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.
Perhaps Spruiell and Williamson are aware of NASA’s directives and simply don’t care, but are only interested in highlighting what they, given the context of their article, consider to be frivolous spending. This brings up one of the classic denialist paradoxes- On the one hand, many “skeptics” claim that “the science isn’t settled” sufficiently and that before we begin mitigating greenhouse emissions, we need more research, more data, and more certainty. At the same time, funding for the very thing that is claimed to be desired on the part of the “skeptic” is declared either motivation for profit (which is perversely amusing) or derided as wasteful “pork” that serves no legitimate purpose. Like the self-contradictory claims that climate change is both a crypto-communist plot to funnel money from the first world to the developing nations and at the same time an immoral demand that the developing world be deprived of the wealth fossil energy provides, the lack of coherence doesn’t seem to a problem for the “skeptics”. If Spruiell and Williamson do consider our knowledge of the climate system sufficiently thorough, perhaps they can push to eliminate a substantial source of waste over at NRO?
Also this week, Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard asserts [h/t TPM, emphasis theirs]:
Obama sounded like Al Gore on global warming. The more the case for man-made warming falls apart, the more hysterical Gore gets about an imminent catastrophe. The more public support his bill loses, the more Obama embraces fear-mongering.
And essentially offers Talking Points Memo the following justifications for his claim: 1) It’s wintertime. 2) The planet hasn’t been warming monotonically. 3) Do your own research, punks!
Are there any prominent conservative groups working to battle the antiscience forces in their own movement? Is this really a fair encapsulation of conservative opinion on climate change? If so, is there any hope of getting domestic regulation in place that will allow the US to join a binding international treaty to cap greenhouse emissions?
[Let me know if this poll doesn’t work. It’s the first one I’ve tried since WordPress partnered with Polldaddy- TB]
[UPDATE: Tim Lambert saw the TPM post about Barnes as well.]