symington
Alex Symington

by Alexander Symington…

I went to the movies the other night and saw a preview for a documentary called, “Merchants of Doubt”. I was curious about it, so I did a little interweb sleuthing and discovered that the documentary exposes professional science deniers as a group; well funded by special interests that have found a niche career casting doubt on overwhelming scientific evidence that is deemed a threat to the corporate status quo. This particular hatchet job is currently being focused on climate change science, but the same gang used the same tactics to create doubt and muddy the waters in debate over evolutionary biology, ozone depletion and the dangers of asbestos and tobacco, thus stalling changes in laws and safety regulations that are beneficial to the citizens, but might damage the particular culprit’s bottom line.

The subjects of climate change, global warming and sea level rise are of great importance to me as a resident of South Florida, the canary-in-the-coal-mine state. As the governor of Florida recently decreed from on high, although muffled by his head being in the sand (or was it some other dark place?), “We shan’t use the unpleasant phrase “Climate Change” any longer and sea level rise shall henceforth be referred to as “nuisance flooding”… Really?! I would say that half of our state slipping under the sea is a little more than a nuisance. We’re not talking thousands of years from now before we are feeling it, either. The rising sea level has already begun to affect the fresh water aquifer with salt intrusion and even before we are under salt water all together we will be without fresh water. No golf courses for the snow birds. No car washes. No lush tropical landscapes. No ice for those Mojitos. No life that is dependent upon fresh, sweet water, i.e. No human life. So, the governor of ground zero says “just say no to climate change”? This is the best game plan to counter the rising seas he can come up with? If he was Emperor he would be buck naked.

Poor Rick Scott…His absurd denial is driven by his myopic hyper-capitalist vision of the world. Instead of buckling down and working with these scientists to figure out a battle plan to counter global warming, he has doubled down with his unimaginative and childish position of ignoring reality and maintaining business as usual. He is putting on a good front for investors and developers that are still coming to Florida to do their thing. If the cold hard truth was discussed and the governor concurred with that cold truth would the money still be coming in? That is Rick Scott’s singular concern. To hell with the future!

As the movie points out, unfortunately, the onus is on the 97% of actual scientists to make the case that climate change is a very real event and human behavior is the cause. The Guardian reports, “As one scientist points out in the film, they have to prove their case while their opponents only have to sow the seeds of doubt. Nowhere is that more keenly felt than in climate change, with a massive disconnect between public acceptance and the political will to act.”

“Merchants of Doubt” is a film adaptation of the 2010 book of the same name by professor of scientific history at Harvard, Naomi Oreskes. Professor Oreskes is understandably taken aback by Governor Scott’s Orwellian decree, “So breathtaking that you don’t really know how to respond to it.”

Professor Oreskes clarifies her fears of inaction by suggesting “that the threat of climate change is so extreme, and time to curb its accelerating effects so short, that the scientific community should abandon its conservative, 95% confidence standard – which, she argues, is an unfair burden of proof that has no actual basis in nature.” Her point being, “there is no debate, and by entering the semantics of a debate, you’ve already lost.”

The gravy-train-free-ride-no-tomorrow is over. Our appetite for destruction has reached critical mass and denial is not a solution. I don’t think people like Rick Scott can be bothered to look past their noses and beyond the next quarter. While Rick is worried about investors in the short term, NOAA informs us that “In 2010, 123.3 million people, or 39 percent of the nation’s population lived in counties directly on the shoreline. This population is expected to increase by 8% from 2010 to 2020.” It’s simply a matter of taking your medicine now or undergoing major surgery later.

Our “leaders” are going to act surprised when Miami and NYC are no longer viable centers of commerce and constantly under water at high tide. Gee, talk about financial losses! Or are they so incredibly short sighted and focused on that next quarterly profit report they don’t care? Do these soulless, mindless empty suits even give a damn about their own grand children? It boggles the mind and I echo Professor Oreskes statement on the insane denial of climate change, “So breathtaking that you don’t really know how to respond.”

Alex Symington

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/15/climate-change-denial-florida–global-warming-naomi-oreskes-interview

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/may/16/climate-research-nearly-unanimous-humans-causes

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121341/florida-gov-rick-scotts-ban-climate-change-hasnt-halted-action

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/19/1372031/-The-phenomenon-that-can-not-be-spoken-in-Florida-continues-as-salt-water-intrusion-moves-inland

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/population.html

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/neil-degrasse-tyson-slams-florida-ban-on-phrase-climate-change-i-thought-we-were-better-than-this/

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