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James Hansen, Today’s Cassandra

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 — Twenty-two years ago today James Hansen testified before Congress that the world’s climate was changing, and we had better do something about it.

Two years ago he appeared before Congress again, reiterated his message of two decades earler, and added that we had used up whatever slack time we may have had. Aside from additional climatological studies, the only significant development during this period has been the growth of a climate change denial industry.

The National Academy of Sciences has now published a paper, “Expert credibility in climate change,” finding that “97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC [Anthropogenic Climate Change] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and … the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

In other words, almost all the scientists who know the most about climate change believe anthropogenic climate change is real, while the skeptics tended to be scientists who knew significantly less about it.

Fortunately for BP, Exxon Mobil, &c., the news media love a good scuffle. It doesn’t much matter to them if one side doesn’t know what it’s talking about, as long as there’s an argument going on.

In fact, it’s a little like the relationship between the GOP and abortion: if abortion was outlawed, the GOP would lose a great tool for mobilizing their base. If the media made the mistake of noting that most deniers are ignorant tools of the carbon industry, they’d lose a great story.

Besides, if they went to all the trouble of thinking and coming to a conclusion, then took the risk of taking a stand on where the truth lies, people might start to expect it. That would be a lot of trouble.

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