What if climate change is a hoax?

Australia blog about climate change science media coverage : Anti-carbon tax protesters in Canberra

Pro-oil protesters hold signs at a demonstration against taking action on climate change.

The most demanding issue of our time is environmental protection. Over hundreds of years of exploding populations, consumption-driven economies, and carving up the planet for resources, the human species has completely reshaped its humble home world. For decades now, scientists have warned that this behavior, unchecked, could have an ominous consequence. Science has given humanity a simple ultimatum: change our behavior or face nature’s wrath.

This has led to a deep schism. Those who are most heavily invested in the current system fight scientists’ claims aggressively. Corporate giants have spent untold millions on disinformation campaigns and disseminated their propaganda through far-right outlets. They have successfully transformed a scientific and moral issue into a political one.

But for the sake of argument, suppose the denialists are right. If we turn our resources to the fight against climate change and it turns out to be a hoax, what will we have done? Continue reading

The GOP is a cult

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline,

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline, “Your money, your vote.”

The title of this article is intended to be slightly salacious and incendiary, but it’s also an honest diagnosis. The GOP, driven by a radical fundamentalist ideology, is unrecognizable as a traditional political party. “Cult” is a frankly accurate way to describe an organization that creates an alternate reality, worships power and seems to be following a suicide pact.

All this was on display in the most recent Republican debate. It was arguably the most heated debate so far, but not because of passionate disagreements on policy. Candidates battled less like diplomats determining the fate of the free world than like a chimp tribe choosing an alpha. The Republican Party is radicalized way beyond the point of debating sensible policy positions. Continue reading

Christian conservatives: Analyzing modern civilization with ancient superstition

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A “blood moon” on September 27 was treated by some religious conservatives as a godly omen.

Before the advent of science and the ubiquity of light pollution, human beings gazed up at the stars and ascribed great meaning to astral events, treating them as omens from the gods. Many of these mystified people still wander the earth, untouched by modern knowledge of gravity and geometry. They aren’t just hiding out in the Amazonian wilds, either; many of them follow Glenn Beck’s Facebook page. Continue reading

National Geographic’s future editorial integrity is in doubt over Murdoch merger

A 100-year-old National Geographic from January 1915.

A 100-year-old National Geographic from January 1915.

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian mogul who owns a vast media empire encompassing, among other important holdings, 21st Century Fox and FOX News, has purchased a 73 percent share of the National Geographic Society’s media assets for $725 million. The society will join with Murdoch in running National Geographic Partners, which will henceforth produce commercial National Geographic media.

Most notably, this includes the society’s revered National Geographic Magazine, published since 1888. And while the society will supposedly continue to play a predominant role in generating the magazine’s content, there is worry that its new, profit-oriented owner will compromise its strong editorial stance, particularly given Murdoch’s denial of man-made climate change. Continue reading

Political correctness is now part of the conservative victimhood complex

In the eyes of his fans, this Trump gesture can turn any idiotic statement into a fearless declaration of a hard truth.

In the eyes of his fans, this Trump gesture can turn any idiotic statement into a fearless declaration of a hard truth.

Across political spectrums, the belief that political correctness is pushed on the country primarily from the left has taken hold. From “courageous” conservatives like Donald Trump to liberal comedians like Bill Maher, the new narrative holds that speech censorship is a left-wing enterprise.

But like so many facets of American life, political correctness is divided along racial, ethnic, political and social lines. Each side has their own ideas about what is and isn’t proper to say. Almost every politically correct issue depends on your vantage point. It takes two to do the dance: one to insist on a thing, and another to be offended by it. Either side can be accused of being politically correct. Continue reading

Justified distrust of doctors fuels vaccine skepticism

A child receives a vaccine.

A child receives a vaccine.

In his “Jammin’ in New York” special, George Carlin holds up a glass of water and asks the audience if it’s safe to drink. An immediate, unanimous chorus of negative responses warns him that it’s not. Carlin takes a drink anyway and lets the crowd know he was only setting them up: “Everywhere I go I say, ‘How’s the water?’ Haven’t gotten a positive answer yet. …It amuses me that no one can really trust the water anymore. And the thing I like about it the most is it means the system is beginning to collapse.”

Not unlike the fear of local water, opposition to vaccines is a manifestation of the public’s growing distrust of institutions. It’s reached such heights that vaccine skeptics have been given their own derogatory nickname: anti-vaxxers. Continue reading

Why the “jobs” argument against climate action makes no sense

In September, hundreds of thousands of climate activists marched on Manhattan to bring attention to – and demand action from leaders on – environmental degradation and climate change. By now, just about everyone recognizes these as civilization-threatening problems requiring our attention. Even the Republican position on the issue is slowly evolving. As the overwhelming evidence implicating human activity mounts and the disastrous consequences of climate change are being experienced firsthand around the world, the question is finally turning from, “Is it happening?” to, “What are we going to do about it?”

Yet there are still plenty of holdouts in the political and business sectors who are stalling environmental progress. One of their favorite canards, and probably the single-silliest argument that can be made against environmental action, is that it will cost America jobs. Continue reading