There is plenty of science saying there's climate change. Many of the mitigating measures to do with climate change are things we ought, for a plethora of reasons from national security to child health, to do anyway (use energy way more efficiently, move to renewable power generation, consume fewer planetary resources to ameliorate the other devastating effects we're having on the planet).
So why does there still seem to be a conversation about the ifs of climate change instead of just the what to dos?
Joseph Romm, author of Hell and High Water: Global Warming--The solution and the Politics--And What You Should Do, recently wrote over on Climate Progress that there are two main reasons and neither has to do with climate science. One has to do with the liberal-conservative political tug-of-war and the other has to do with the sensationalism that media needs to keep itself popular.
Romm writes, "the conflict is actually [not a scientific but] a political one between those who believe in government-led solutions and those who don’t... a central reason that conservatives and libertarians reject the scientific understanding of human-caused climate change is that they simply cannot stand the solution. So they attack both the solution and the science."
Romm then goes on to say that the media continues to propagate the libertarian climate naysaying, not because it has merit, but because covering the extreme fringes in a story "is inherent to all modern media coverage of every big issue." Romm goes on to quote Newsweek editor Jon Meacham:
"I absolutely believe that the media is not ideologically driven, but conflict driven. If we have a bias, it's not that people are socially liberal, fiscally conservative or vice versa. It is that we are engaged in the storytelling business. And if you tell the same story again and again and again--it's kind of boring."
In other words, even if the climate naysayers lie on the fringe of reasonable discourse, because they are the ones saying things contrary enough to interest the "storytellers," they get column inches they need to seem (and I emphasize seem) credible.
And that is why there still seems to be a debate on climate change here in the United States.
Image courtesy of the University of Leiden.