USA Today compared the deniers of climate-change science to birthers – those who claimed President Obama was born in a foreign country and thus an illegitimate president – expressing the opinion of the paper’s editorial board.
The editorial noted that the prestigious National Research Council (NRC), part of the National Academy of Sciences, had issued a report titled America’s Climate Choices.
The newspaper cited the report as saying, “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment.”
The editorial accused those who deny the science of climate change of taking a “head-in-the-sand approach.”
It also referenced a USA Today news story about a journal of statistics that had retracted a study used by those global-warming deniers because the study was marred by plagiarism and questionable sources.
“Taken together, these developments ought to leave the deniers in the same position as the ‘birthers’ … a vocal minority that refuses to accept overwhelming evidence,” read the editorial.
“The latest scientific report provides clarity that denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It paves a path to a future fraught with melting ice caps, rising sea levels, shifting agricultural patterns, droughts and wildfires,” said the newspaper.
Climate scientist Joseph Romm called the editorial “a must read.”
Writing the counterpoint to the USA Today editorial was Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a noted climate-change science denier.
Inhofe said the American public was “more skeptical of the science of global warming than at any time over the past decade” and warned that addressing climate change would hurt American consumers.
Inhofe did not address the science of climate change.
During the same week, a Washington Post editorial also referenced the National Research Council report and challenged the climate-change science deniers.
“Climate-change deniers … are willfully ignorant, lost in wishful thinking, cynical or some combination of the three,” read the editorial. “And their recalcitrance is dangerous, the report makes clear, because the longer the nation waits to respond to climate change, the more catastrophic the planetary damage is likely to be – and the more drastic the needed response.”
The Post noted that some political leaders “pretend that the dangers of climate change are hypothetical and unproven and the causes uncertain.”
Scientist Romm reposted and updated a 2009 blog in which he listed five ways that birthers and deniers are alike.
He wrote that deniers and birthers:
· “are impervious to the evidence;”
· “come from the same group of people;”
· “get their disinformation from the same right-wing sources;”
· “have an underlying motivation – their desire to obstruct progressive government action;”
· and “believe in a mammoth conspiracy theory.”
Pointing out that Inhofe thinks global warming is a hoax, Romm wrote that such a “hoax would require complicity among thousands of climate scientists, all of the leading scientific journals, the National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and every major U.S. scientific organization.”
Romm said, “The birthers are stuck in the past. The deniers want to destroy the future.”
In an April 2011 Time magazine interview, Al Gore compared birthers with “climate skeptics,” who refuse “to accept the truth of the climate crisis.”
Quoting the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan, Gore said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”
He again compared climate-change deniers to birthers at a conference of Jewish social justice activists in May.
“I applaud the National Academies for providing policymakers and the public with this comprehensive and authoritative study to advance the country’s response to climate change. America’s Climate Choices reaffirms the overwhelming scientific evidence – climate change is real and the case for action is clear,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Claussen said, “If we continue to ignore and delay acting to minimize these very real risks, we are inviting more severe impacts and greater costs.”
America, a national Catholic weekly magazine, gave the following headline to its article on the report: “NAS Reports Threat From Climate Change is Real – Again.”