Category Archives: global warming

Drill, Idiot, Drill


Imagine for a minute that attending the Republican convention in St. Paul, sitting in a skybox overlooking the convention floor, were observers from Russia, Iran and Venezuela. And imagine for a minute what these observers would have been doing when Rudy Giuliani led the delegates in a chant of “drill, baby, drill!”

I’ll tell you what they would have been doing: the Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan observers would have been up out of their seats, exchanging high-fives and joining in the chant louder than anyone in the hall — “Yes! Yes! Drill, America, drill!” — because an America that is focused first and foremost on drilling for oil is an America more focused on feeding its oil habit than kicking it.

Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”

.:T. Friedman’s op-ed Making America Stupid -> via the NY Times

“Move along, folks, no global warming to see here…”

By request, we head over to Capitol Hill…

senate seal

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings on Tuesday to discuss the effects of climate change on public health. Among those called to testify was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government’s main agency for monitoring illness and public health threats. You can read the text of her testimony here.

Now, you may have noticed that this testimony is less than comprehensive. It talks at length about the CDC’s ability to prepare for threats, and its capacity to monitor potential problems, which is interesting, but since that’s sort of fundamental to the purpose of the CDC, not terribly enlightening. Given that the hearing was entitled “Examining the Human Health Impacts of Global Warming,” one might think that America’s top agency for monitoring human health might talk about those impacts. But they didn’t. Did they forget? Have they actually just not bothered to look into it?

Oh, no, wait, what’s this on “Sources: White House Cut Testimony.” Ah, I see. Testimony discussing the potential health problems caused by global warming would have to acknowledge that global warming exists. Thus, the White House needed to edit the hell out of it to make sure none of those pesky scientific warnings get in there. This isn’t the first time the Administration has pulled this little trick, they’ve apparently been censoring NASA reviews of climate change for years now.

Now, part of this is just the standard Bush Administration secrecy fetish. But it’s also about the fight to discredit science in general. Science, you see, has this pesky habit of pointing out awkward things like cigarettes causing cancer, pesticides harming wildlife and humans, and fossil fuels warming the earth. Also, things like this little guy:


And when the public becomes aware of these things, they tend to demand government action, which tends to be expensive for big business. So, what’s an enterprising corporation that wants to keep burning coal or dumping toxic waste to do?

They take advantage of the basic nature of scientific inquiry: namely, that nothing in science is ever proven, only not disproven. Doubt is central to the discipline; without it, there’d be no discovery. Thus, for just about any well-established theory, there’s some scientist who doesn’t fully agree with the consensus. So, all a company has to do is find that person and give him or her a big ol’ megaphone. Poof, you’ve got an instant scientific controversy where none existed before. And when you’ve got a business-friendly administration willing to suppress scientific facts which run counter to their ideology, it becomes all the easier.