The Sounds of Science

For nearly thirty years, climate scientists have been the targets of character assassination by the fossil-fuel industry’s hired guns. They’ve been mugged on the streets of public discourse, pounded by the fists of demagoguery and smear. Their lives have been upended in an effort to have their research suspended. They’ve been kicked, slapped, whipped, tripped, and called every ugly name in the book.

Now they’re fighting back, in a bold and innovative new campaign known as More Than Scientists. This campaign provides an inside look into the lives of the climate scientists whose extensive research led to the scientific verdict that greenhouse gas emissions were causing our planet’s temperature to increase to dangerous levels.

Eric Michaelman, a Seattle-based climate activist, is the creator of this effort. In an e-mail interview last week, Michaelman told me that this initiative “developed out of discussions and brainstorming between longtime climate activists in the Seattle area and scientists at the University of Washington who personally wanted to play a more constructive part in the public conversation about climate…[W]e felt that video would be the best medium with the goal of helping the public better get to know the scientists personally, since when you see and hear someone talking it’s easy to make your own impression of their sincerity and conviction.”

Rational-thinking people have long since been convinced of the sincerity and conviction of those who have labored tirelessly for decades to analyze the risk greenhouse gases pose to the planet. However, if you have any friends who still think Sean Hannity knows more about climate change than actual climate scientists, ask them to watch these videos and see if they change their minds…or just keep them closed.

As Michaelman noted last week, “The goal of More Than Scientists is to help the public get to know the scientists and hear in their own words that climate change is real and they’re concerned about it. There’s so much misinformation spread about climate science that we felt it would be really helpful to hear more directly from the scientists themselves. What better way to communicate the actual scientific consensus than to hear from the scientists themselves? And if we can help the public to see and appreciate the scientists as their neighbors, fellow community members and parents, then it can only help acceptance of their message that it is real and we should be concerned for the world we’re leaving our children and grandchildren.”

Speaking of the world we’re leaving our children and grandchildren—and those who are, and who are not, terribly concerned about it—I wasn’t surprised in the least to learn that wingnut media entities have opened rhetorical fire on former Secretary of State George Shultz after he wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post suggesting that Republicans who dismiss the threat of climate change are ignoring the lesson Reagan taught when he addressed the threat of ozone-layer depletion in the 1980s. It’s obvious that Schulz’s words—in particular, his call for revenue-neutral carbon-pricing legislation—have fallen upon deaf right-wing ears. The savagely negative reaction to Shultz’s piece is a precursor to how the right wing will go after Pope Francis when he releases his encyclical on the environment and addresses Congress later on this year. To right-wing ideologues, Shultz is just a senile RINO and Francis is an impostor; in their deranged minds, David Koch is the real Pope.

I know that many climate scientists hope that the partisan divide on this issue can be brought to an end. I’m sure Shultz thinks this divide can be brought to an end. I assume climate-concerned Catholics believe Pope Francis can bring the partisan divide to an end. However, this divide can only end by bringing an end to the tyranny of right-wing ideology in this country. That’s a hard fight…but it can be won. It must be won.

UPDATE: More from Thom Hartmann.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.