Bill McKibben: Climate-Change Deniers Have Done Their Job Well

6:23 am in Uncategorized by Tom Engelhardt

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

A wildfire rages.

Photo by Kaibab National Forest

Here’s the thing about climate-change deniers: these days before they sit down to write their blog posts, they have to turn on the AC. After all, it might as well be July in New York (where I’m writing this), August in Chicago (where a century-old heat record was broken in late May), and hell at the Indy 500. Infernos have been raging from New Mexico and Colorado, where the fire season started early, to the shores of Lake Superior, where dry conditions and high temperatures led to Michigan’s third largest wildfire in its history. After a March heat wave for the record books, we now have summer in late spring, the second-named tropical storm of the season earlier than ever recorded, and significant drought conditions, especially in the South and Southwest. In the meantime, carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) continue to head for the atmosphere in record quantities. And in case anyone living in a big city doesn’t know it, heat can kill.

It’s true that no single event can be pinned on climate change with absolute certainty. But anyone who doesn’t think we’re in a fierce new world of weather extremes — and as TomDispatch regular Bill McKibben has suggested, on an increasingly less hospitable planet that he calls Eaarth – is likely to learn the realities firsthand soon enough. Not so long ago, if you really wanted to notice the effects of climate change around you, you had to be an Inuit, an Aleut, or some other native of the far north where rising temperatures and melting ice were visibly changing the landscape and wrecking ways of life — or maybe an inhabitant of Kiribati. Now, it seems, we are all Inuit or Pacific islanders. And the latest polling numbers indicate that Americans are finally beginning to notice in their own lives, and in numbers that may matter.

With that in mind, we really do need a new term for the people who insist that climate change is a figment of some left-wing conspiracy or a cabal of miscreant scientists. “Denial” (or the more active “deniers”) seems an increasingly pallid designation in our new world. Consider, for instance, that in low-lying North Carolina, a leading candidate for disaster from globally rising sea levels, coastal governments and Republicans in the state legislature are taking action: they are passing resolutions against policies meant to mitigate the damage from rising waters and insisting that official state sea-level calculations be made only on the basis of “historic trends,” with no global warming input. That should really stop the waters!

In the meantime, this spring greenhouse-gas monitoring sites in the Arctic have recorded a startling first: 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s an ominous line to cross (and so quickly). As in the name of McKibben’s remarkable organization, 350.org, it’s well above the safety line for what this planet and many of the species on it, including us, can take in the long term, and heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere are still on the rise. All of this is going to get ever harder to “deny,” no matter what resolutions are passed or how measurements are restricted. In the meantime, the climate-change deniers, McKibben reports, are finally starting to have troubles of their own. Tom

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