Thursday, April 28, 2016

It Was Always Just a Matter of Time


Even Republicans are beginning to lose their taste for climate change denialism. According to Scientific American this is big news. Hardly.

The Achilles' Heel of climate change denialism is that it pits empty belief against scientific fact. Belief is a product of faith, not fact. It involves a willingness to believe something for the sake of believing. Scientific fact does not demand nor even invite belief. It is evidence based, verifiable. Challenge is welcomed as a means to advance knowledge.

Climate change denialism was never more than a sucker's bet. Science shows that the reality of climate change impacts are occurring and they're worsening. Even in the most latitudinally advantaged countries this manifests in severe weather events of increasing frequency, intensity, duration and destructiveness. It is irrefutable in both the change in global temperatures, ice loss and sea level rise and the rate of those changes. Denialism cannot stand against what must be felt and endured.

We are already living with the impacts of just 1C of warming above pre-industrial levels and warming is not only continuing but it's accelerating. We know that those impacts are not linear. Big changes happen abruptly more often than not and they tend to be irreversible. For example, there are parts of the world that are getting dangerously near "wet bulb 35." This marks a point of rise in both humidity and temperature at which the human body can no longer cool itself through perspiration and evaporation and death ensues.

Climate change denialism was never more than a carefully engineered delaying tactic. The fossil fuelers were well aware of global warming and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions for at least three decades and probably more. As far back as 1970, Imperial Oil knew that GHGs would have to be regulated. That's getting on to half a century ago. Big Fossil is only doing what Big Tobacco did, using the same techniques pioneered by RJ Reynolds and other cancer merchants.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that increasing numbers of Republican voters and Republican legislators are abandoning climate change denial. The only surprise is that it took them so long.

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