Saturday, February 27, 2010

President Obama Thinks Climate Change is Imaginary

By Bob Ferris

“…. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing — even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.”

President Barrack Obama’s State of the Union Address January 2010As a scientist and one who has dealt extensively with energy efficiency, the above quote makes real sense. You do not have to believe in climate change to understand that investments in energy conservation are good. And the President even graciously acknowledged that there are folks out there who doubt the science behind climate change. All good and proper.

But when I visit some of the climate change doubter’s websites, the above gets paraphrased (and broadly circulated) into: Obama said in a recent speech climate change is worth fighting for even if it’s imaginary. The weird thing was that the first place that I ran into this interesting interpretation of the above quote was on a site with the URL http://www.algorelied.com.

It is ironic that the President’s courtesy nod to climate change doubters would be used to cast doubt on the underpinnings of the science. And I am sure in the evolution of things that at some point this interpretation will be further distilled to: President Obama thinks climate change is imaginary.

This is all testimony to the sadness of the “public debate” on climate change which is a universe away from the debate in scientific circles. Some of this is no doubt due to the complexity of the topic. Some of this is also due to a public untrained in science, but well schooled in opinionating. And then there is the internet and what is at stake. But I would lay most of this at the feet of the energy companies and their allies.

The energy bloc has invested heavily in preserving their right to continue business as usual and externalizing the costs of their enterprises in terms of human welfare, economic stability, and the health of our global ecosystems. And in the process they have created political systems, conservative schools of thought, deceptive modes of behavior, and environmental conditions that will haunt us and future generations for the foreseeable future.

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