Although it should go without saying that climate change is the deadliest threat to human civilization, sadly in American in 2016 it is still apparently necessary to dismiss those who deny its existence and danger.
Sarah Palin, for reasons no sane person can truly comprehend, is emerging as a major voice in the climate change denying community, adding her considerable sway in right wing circles to boost propaganda documentary that aims to absolve humans from any responsibility in heating the planet, and argues that contrary to the overwhelming scientific consensus, global warming is a great thing.
As we covered last week, Palin ludicrously called out Bill Nye the Science Guy, telling an audience at a panel for the documentary ‘Climate Hustle’ that “Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am.He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.”
Of course you can’t trust anything that comes out of Sarah Palin’s mouth (Bill Nye is actually scientist, and is right about climate change), but the problem is, Palin’s opinion unfortunately does count in a nation where 91% of Americans reportedly don’t believe global warming is a big problem, and 30% don’t think it even exists at all.
And as the Washington Post’s excellent science and environment reporter Chris Mooney writes, this type of disinformation campaign coming from the far right needs to be refuted. After laying out definitive proof of man made climate change, Mooney summarized Palin’s attack on science advocates like Bill Nye:
And then, well, there’s the latest skeptic tendency, which is to criticize Bill Nye. Nye is a persuasive entertainer who states climate science accurately and stands up for it. But refuting him or his arguments, as Morano and Palin seek to do, really doesn’t mean much. In the end, he’s just the messenger.
Nye is simply articulating the lessons that emerge from a vast body of research, and a well established scientific understanding of how the planet’s atmosphere works. It begins with the simple greenhouse effect, and the planet’s carbon cycle, and proceeds to show that carbon dioxide is a central atmospheric temperature knob that will warm the planet now, just as it has done in past eras of the Earth’s history.
This mountain of knowledge doesn’t go away even if, somehow, you get people to distrust or dislike Bill Nye. (Though that doesn’t seem to be working very well, either).
The tendency to focus on Nye, though, does reveal a bigger game. It is not to provide a painstaking, step-by-step, scientifically supported critique of everything that researchers have established about how the climate works. Rather, it’s to win in the media and public minds, where Nye does indeed loom large, and where Palin, and documentaries like “Climate Hustle,” might indeed have a persuasive effect.
Even though the tide is turning and the American public are changing their minds about the importance of climate change and their responsibility for creating it, the battle to control the message over climate change is still an important one. Bill Nye is on the right side of the debate and doing his bit to further the message from the scientific community. Sarah Palin is on the wrong side of the debate and is doing her bit to further the message from right wing extremist and the oil industry.
So yes, listen to Bill Nye, and not Sarah Palin. The future of our planet depends on it.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.