Who is denying anthropogenic climate change?

I'm so tired of the "controversy" about global warming.  It's only a controversy among those who put ideology before science.  Matt Yglesias makes a great point that I don't think gets enough attention: there's no great motivation to take on a politically difficult issue like this unless you really think it is an important problem that needs to be addressed for the good of our nation and the world.  However, virtually all the forces in opposition are closely tied to the carbon-intensive industries which would suffer the most (i.e., less profits, but plenty of profits still) from meaningful legislation.  Yglesias:

 What I wonder for those, like Senator James Inhof and Cato Institute Vice President Roger Pilon, who seem to think
these emails prove the existence of a nefarious conspiracy to defraud
the public about the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is
what’s the purpose of this conspiracy? You can see why,
having decided that he really wants to pass a clean energy bill, John
Kerry might be well-motivated to fudge the facts around the edges about
various things. But what’s the upside for Kerry in taking this issue up
in the first place? Or Barbara Boxer or Henry Waxman? How is it that
the government of China, which is clearly reluctant to reduce its
greenhouse gas emissions, doesn’t seem to have any qualms with this
science? Maybe political parties from across the spectrum in France
endorse consensus climate science because they’re under the influence
of the nuclear energy industry, but why does this political consensus
extend to the U.K. and all across continental Europe? Are David Cameron
and Angela Merkel in the grips of growth-hating socialist ideology? And
what about the scientists themselves? Where’s the upside? Normally to
posit a giant conspiracy you need some plausible account of the motives.

It shouldn’t take a genius to note that opposition to the scientific
consensus is extremely concentrated among political movements with
strong ties to the coal and oil industry. You can easily see where the
upside is for them in getting this wrong. But adopting the
view that the IPCC is correct really is “inconvenient” from a political
point of view. Indeed, even political leaders who accept the basic
outline of this climate consensus rarely actually argue in favor of
reductions that are sufficiently sweeping to meet IPCC guidelines
specifically because doing so is so politically problematic. This just
isn’t a “good issue” to take on. But it happens to be a real problem
and so, reluctantly, leaders around the world are trying to take it on.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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