Government Should Defend Climate Science

UN Foundation President Senator Timothy Wirth pens an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The status quo has many guardians, but the future is an orphan. From our out-of-control health care system to lax banking regulation, vested financial interests are having a field day distorting the facts in service of another year’s or decade’s profits. Climate change is the latest issue to take a beating. The formula for legislative obstruction is now well established: When confronted with facts about a future threat, today’s vested interests unleash an army of attack dogs to scour the landscape for the irrelevant anomaly or misleading mud with which to sow doubt. Thus, a single weather event in Washington, D.C., becomes fodder for mindless mockery of the mountain of scientific evidence on significant climatic changes around the world; personal e-mails “reveal” that some scientists can be petulant; and a few mistakes in a 3,000-page, 130-country scientific collaboration are blown grossly out of proportion to discredit the enterprise – indeed, the entire scientific process.

The attacks are withering yet remarkably effective. Why? Because the opponents know, in tried-and-true techniques from the cigarette wars, that they don’t have to “win” the argument; all they have to do is sow doubt, and that is enough to weaken public resolve and delay action.

 The bottom line is that if the fundamental role of government is to protect its citizens and care for their wellfare, then government need to be on the front lines defending climate science from frivolous attacks.   Read the rest