Friday, July 1, 2011

A Reply To Mark81150

My first "Newsbusters & Me" post on Wednesday drew a pair of responses from a conservative fellow who goes by the handle "Mark81150." My reply:

In my original post, I'd written that "much of the American rightist elite has, for years, waged open war on the notion that there is any such thing as an objective set of facts about anything" You take issues with this and write:

"What we wage war on, is that leftwing OPINION can be presented as 'objective fact' a slight [sic] of hand the left has used for decades."

But you offer, as your only example of this, the matter of global climate change, which, you write, "is routinely used by the left to say the right isn't dealing in reality." You characterize this conclusion as "a very hyper partisan slant at best, an outrageous lie in truth." You are unequivocal on it:

"...when a leftists states global climate change is catastrophic and man caused.. that's an opinion based on some junk science.. not a 'fact'"

To state the obvious, Mark, you're not a scientist working in the fields related to the study of climate change. Neither am I. Neither are most people. For our info on this, we either have to extensively study the matter ourselves or rely on experts who have. Someone over at Wikipedia has helpfully assembled an article, loaded with links, documenting the world scientific consensus on global climate change. That consensus, stated in brief, is that climate change is happening and it is caused by human activity. The article notes an important fact:

"No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position."

Whether or not the world's scientists are right about it, that consensus is a fact, not "left-wing opinion," and people--even "leftists"--who reference that consensus--that fact--aren't offering "an opinion based on some junk science." They're referencing what the experts on this subject have overwhelmingly concluded about it, based on mountains of science that have been tested, re-tested, and re-re-tested from every conceivable angle and that get higher and higher with every passing year.

The near-uniformity of the experts on this doesn't mean those experts are right, of course. Science is never closed to challenge--that's one of its basic tenets. It does, however, place, on deniers what any objective observer would be forced to conclude is a staggering burden of proof. To support your own position, you, the non-scientist, would not only have to demonstrate those ever-growing mountains of science are incorrect; you would also have to believe that either the entire global scientific community is made up of a bunch of dummies who have, for years, been taken in by "some junk science" (that you're brilliant enough to see through), or that, without any apparent motive at all, they have undertaken a conspiracy to lie about it that is global in scale and that stretches back decades. Instead, all you offer is the claim that "there are a large number of climate change skeptics in the world of science" and a link to a Business Insider article listing 10 prominent climate-change "skeptics." Just ten. And even of those, some aren't outright deniers, not a one of them has ever published their "theories" about global warming in a peer-reviewed journal and some aren't scientists at all.

More significantly, several of them (Plimer, Ebell, Michaels, Happer) are de facto mouthpieces for business interests--big business interests--that would be negatively affected by any legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. In fact, the auto industry, utility companies, Big Coal, and most especially Big Oil invented the climate denial industry in the late '80s and have kept it going ever since. You complain that deniers are branded as heretics by "people who have a financial vest [sic] interest" in so labeling them, and trash Al Gore for making money from warning about climate change while you parrot an insanely improbable line that was invented and is wholly sustained by industries that have a direct and massive financial interest--their sole interest with regard to the topic--in having you swallow that line.

In short, this is actually a perfect example of how "the right isn't dealing in reality." Or at least of how you aren't.

It's also a perfect illustration of my own point, the one you were trying to refute.

Who is really kidding himself?


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