Palin Takes the Easy Road on Climate Change

Today Sarah Palin became a “follower” on her own Facebook account.   Sadly she decided to lock herself in step with the group of opportunists trying to derail needed action on climate change.  That’s more going steady than going rogue.

Let me repeat. These people are “opportunists.”  Some climate scientists have screwed up, but what they have truly damaged are the political prospects of those of us that understand the need for urgent action not the underlying science supporting climate change.  With a modicum of thought, those who continue to hold up those missteps as proof that climate change doesn’t exist would realize that they only speak to the periphery of climate reports not the bedrock truth that humankind is changing the planet and that there will be irrevocable consequences. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether they actually put in that effort or not.

Palin’s post is a prime example of such an attempted diversion.  She writes, “The IPCC’s supposedly definitive report proving the theory is riddled with serious errors,” while bulldozing over the fact that those errors don’t speak at all to the core of climate science.  In reality it’s a perverse sort of ad hominem attack on the IPCC and the 620 scientists who authored the 4th assessment report. The argument goes: they’ve made these errors, therefore everything they’ve said must be an error.  But, in reality, none of these mistakes undercuts at all the scientific consensus that greenhouse gases have raised and will continue to raise global temperatures, a belief held by nearly all climate scientists.

She then tries to back herself up by suggesting that the former head of the IPCC, Greenpeace UK, and the Natural Environment Research Council are in her corner. They clearly are not. They have attacked the IPCC because they believe, rightfully so, that these petty errors can be used by opportunists to distract from the central and unwavering truths of climate science.  Alan Thorpe says as much in the article to which Palin links: 

We open ourselves up to trouble if we start getting into hearsay and grey literature. We have enough research that has been peer-reviewed to provide evidence for climate change, so it is concerning that the IPCC has strayed from that.

All in all, Palin’s strategy is to belittle a serious matter so that she might take a political hack at President Obama and push for a “true free market approach to energy independence” that fails to take into account the clear negative externalities of reliance on fossil fuels. Now that “isn’t based on sound economics.” And her statement that “America has the proven reserves needed to meet our energy challenges” is just obviously wrong. Ironic that Palin makes a glaring over-reach in a post blasting the IPCC for the doing the same.

The truth is that it is inconvenient for Palin and those she follows to accept the truth and far too convenient for them to try to score political points by attacking those who have the guts, the foresight, and the selflessness to accept that which is unpleasant.  That is the real tragedy of these mistakes; it’s made it easier to take the easy road — as Palin has done here.