If you want to pander to your corporate constituencies by going around calling global warming a hoax, you’re within your right to do so. But shouldn’t those who deride the science of climate change and the manmade contributions to it be made to put more than just their own reputations on the line?
This isn’t a hoax like the Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot. At some point 50 or 100 years down the road — maybe much sooner, I’m afraid — the science and mechanics of climate change and human-generated carbon’s role in it are going to be proved or disproved, demonstrated or not. And what are those folks who have been in denial the whole time going to do? Shrug their shoulders and say oops? My bad?
Is it going to be like the opposition to civil rights was, where the same people who opposed it to begin with were the first to declare, without any irony, that racism is abated and then raise the cry of reverse racism? Are we facing, as we did with civil rights, a decades long running battle of constant resistance where the enemies of progress work to undermine every step forward — even as they enjoy the benefits of the very thing they are fighting?
We hear a lot from global warming deniers about the “high cost” of carbon emission regulation. Of course, in absolute terms they are right. It will be expensive. But what price are the deniers willing to pay personally for the high cost of being on the wrong side of science and history? Many of today’s deniers will be long dead by the time the worst effects of inaction are realized. Those who do live long enough will more than likely be insulated from the most extreme effects by their relative wealth and prosperity, compared to Bangladeshis, for instance. And in any event, there is no justice — no democratic justice — in punishing fools for being fools.
In spite of conservatives’ copious self-regard for standing athwart this “monstrous liberal hoax,” their denial is in fact easy, pain-free, and cheap.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.