[I started writing this as an addition to a string of interesting and thoughtful comments on John’s excellent post, which questions whether it is really the incompetence of scientists that’s responsible for the failure of this country to recognize climate change. But decided to post it up here instead.]
There are a host of factors contributing to the peculiarly American “confusion” — to put it politely — about the reality of global climate change. But I’m surprised that none of the commentors so far has identified what is surely the root cause of the problem (as it is of all evils as the old saying goes): MONEY.
Geeky scientists who don’t know how to communicate? OK, in part. But it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of difference whether we are all out making gripping and compelling arguments to the local Rotary club or middle school or writing editorials about how it affects every citizen and her family’s health and well-being right now — even in WaPO or NYT, if the other side has a secret weapon.
As the other old saying goes: Follow the money. We’re outgunned. We (meaning scientists in particular) cannot hope to compete with the colossal resources of, for example, the Koch Brothers, and use it to devote our lives to combating this. The Koch brothers and oil companies and various other moneyed interests DO have the resources to hire and pay handsomely armies of energetic and ideologically committed people with connections to write this crap and flog it to whomever will publish it. They’re called lobbyists. And they are real and full-time. Sound like a crazy paranoia about the vast right-wing conspiracy? As a start (and one could do this all day), look at this, this, this, and this.
This is not, as yet another old saying goes, rocket science. Why is Romney beating the pants off of Gingrich in the GOP primaries now? Because voters like him more? I doubt it. Because he’s the true conservative? Clearly not. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Romney outspent Newt 10 to 1 in advertising.
So imagine what the score would look like when you’re being outspent a million to one. That my friends is where we are. Until we can coax George Soros or Buffet or someone with deep pockets to mount an “army of truth” in defense of rational arguments about the real cause-and-effect physical world, based on systematic examination of empirical evidence — in a word, based on science — we’re likely to be wallowing in the same stuff we’re in now. Even if we sing with beautiful voices.