The Anti-Denialism Deniers

In the LA Times today, Jonah Goldberg takes on the global warming movement:

The push in Congress for a huge new carbon tax is a dangerous farce. Yes, it's true that CO2 levels and global temperatures have risen since the Industrial Revolution, and that's something to take seriously. But the political reality is that truly meaningful global restrictions on CO2 emissions in the near future simply will not happen, and pretending otherwise is a waste of time, money and political capital.

....That's the case Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner make in their book, "SuperFreakonomics," which is already being torn apart by environmentalists horrified at the notion they might lose their license to Get Things Done as they see fit.

Is the atmosphere getting too hot? Cool it down by reflecting away more sunlight. The ocean's getting too acidic? Give it some antacid.

The technology's not ready. But pursuing it for a couple of decades will cost pennies compared with carbon rationing.

I've read a million anti-warming diatribes in the past few years, but something about this one irritated me more than usual.  I think it was the desperately flip tone.  Goldberg clearly doesn't want to be part of the outright denialist school — they're a wee bit too vulgar, I suppose — but he wants to deny nevertheless.  So he tosses out a few jokes, takes on the weakest possible arguments for addressing climate change (they want to kill your dog!), and then latches on to Levitt and Dubner's new book as a supposedly sober and scientific way of advocating total inaction.  Never mind that Levitt and Dubner themselves, as well as everyone quoted in their book, has stated clearly that CO2 reduction is essential, should be pursued with vigor, and that geoengineering research should be done in addition to, not instead of, greenhouse gas reductions.

And this, whether or not Levitt and Dubner intended it, is the problem with their book.  They may include sentences here and there implying that geoengineering is a last resort, not a first one, but that's very clearly not the lesson most people have taken away from their discussion.  The lesson most people have taken away is the one that Goldberg obviously took: we should throw a few billion dollars into 18-mile sulfate tubes, stop worrying about global warming, and get back to business.  L&D really owed it to their readers not to allow anyone to reasonably leave with that interpretation.

As for Goldberg, he wonders somberly why public belief in global warming has declined lately and decides (natch) that it's the Democrats' fault for actually trying to do something about it.  The fact that his side of the aisle has waged a blistering, no-holds-barred denialism war for the past few years apparently has nothing to do with it.  But he should be more willing to take credit for a job well done.  Conservatives hate international treaties, they hate business regulations of any kind, and they hate Al Gore.  Convincing the public that global warming is just a liberal fraud is sort of a trifecta for them.  Nice work.

The Bad News About the MRAP-ATV

Today's war photo of the day is of a brand-new mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles (MRAP-ATV or M-ATV) sitting at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan. The very first M-ATVs designated for use in Southern Afghanistan arrived last Thursday, October 22. (The first batch of M-ATVs arrived earlier this month.) Think about that for a minute. It's taken eight years to start getting US soldiers in Afghanistan vehicles that can both protect them from roadside bombs and maneuver on the country's rough terrain. The good news, according to defense secretary Robert Gates, is that thousands more M-ATVs will arrive in theater over the next year. But you have to wonder how many lives could have been saved if the military had prioritized fighting the current war (instead of building F-22s for the next war) back in 2001, and you have to wonder whether all this effort is coming too late.

Quote of the Day

From Jon Kingsdale, director of the Massachusetts health insurance exchange, on reining in healthcare spending in America:

If you're going to do health-care cost containment, it's going to have to be stealth. It's going to have to happen before any of the players understand what's happening.

Well, either stealth or main force, anyway.  If the former doesn't work, eventually we'll resort to the latter whether anyone likes it or not.

Chamber Sues the Yes Men

The Chamber of Commerce is suing the Yes Men over the parody press conference the group pulled off last week.

The Chamber has filed a civil complaint in the US District Court of Washington, DC, accusing Yes Men Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos (also known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, respectively) of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising. The Chamber's suit also lists several members of the DC-based activist group the Avaaz Action Factory as co-defendants. The conduct of those who organized the event was "destructive of public discourse," the Chamber argues.

As the Yes Men have a new film in theaters currently, The Yes Men Fix the World, the Chamber also alleges that the prank was part of a "comprehensive scheme to promote their movie by wrongdoing against the plaintiff"—rather than an event meant to call attention to the organization's views on climate change.

"The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment," said the Chamber in a press release issued with the suit. "Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies, and other merchandise."

 

A new mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicle, built specifically for the mountainous Afghan terrain, parks next to a larger MRAP, MaxxPro Dash. The first M-ATVs designated for Southern Afghanistan arrived at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, by air transport, Oct. 22, 2009. (US Army photo via army.mil.)

Eco-News Roundup: Tuesday October 27

News from our other blogs on healthcare, nature, the environment, and energy.

President's Choice: Obama may or may not have the leverage to push one public option ahead of the pack.

Sneak of the Week: Are Democrats "sneaking" a public option through the Senate?

Big Ag: Kevin Drum has a new piece on the farm lobby and why it's wrecking the climate.

Happy Caturday: Inkblot and Domino, now cover models.

Penny Saver: EPA finds Kerry-Boxer climate bill would have low cost to households.

Apples v. Oranges: Kerry-Boxer is weaker than Waxman-Markey despite better GHG targets.

Reid's Option: On what a Harry Reid public option would look like, and if it could fly.

Clean(er) Coal: Government moves ahead with clean coal projects, despite scrutiny.

Climate 101: Kate Sheppard gives the ins-and-outs of Boxer's climate proposal.

Opting Out: Reid's public option, opt-out included, moves closer to reality.

 

 

Need To Read: October 27, 2009

Today's must-reads:

Get more stuff like this: Follow me on twitter! David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, also tweets, as does MoJo blogger Kate Sheppard. So do my colleagues Daniel Schulman and Rachel Morris and our editors-in-chief, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Follow them, too! (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

Nyah Nyah Nyah

Getting in one last lick before the great Fox War becomes yesterday's news, Mickey Kaus follows up today on his earlier blog post about Fox News' lack of independence:

I argued that I have no faith that Roger Ailes didn't take direction from the Bush White House. The most sophisticated response I've gotten is, in effect, 'Sure he did. But you don't think Rick Kaplan at CNN took direction from the Clinton White House?' I don't know about Kaplan. But Kaplan only ran CNN for three years or so — just passing through. Roger Ailes pretty much is Fox News. The network has never existed without him.

Seriously?  This was the most sophisticated rebuttal he got?  That's pathetic.  Conservatives really need to step up their game.

A Wee Question

Can someone please explain to me why a supposedly sophisticated magazine like the Economist continues to insist on the juvenile practice of refusing to byline blog posts?  I know, I know, voice of God blah blah blah.  But seriously.  Isn't it time to grow up and enter the 21st century?  After all, the whole point of the blog format is to highlight personal voices.  I know I'd link to them more often if I knew who I was conversing with.

Video: 350 Gets Rowdy

This Saturday, activists convened in more than four thousand cities worldwide for the 350 Day of Action, a global event designed to raise awareness about the looming effects of climate change and demand action from international leaders. The San Francisco protest attracted a hodge-podge of environmentalists, bikers, and polar bears, all lamenting the earth's increasingly dire fate. Now, it's up to the negotiators to reach a climate agreement in Copenhagen this November.

See the video: