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Even Newsweek Says The Debate Is Over
Alex Steffen, 8 Aug 07
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Wow. Newsweek's latest issue has a cover story, The Truth About Denial, which is the best piece of climate desmogging I've seen run in a mainstream publication. It lays out, using plain language and careful reporting, exactly how the Carbon Lobby has used lies, kook scientists and lots of money to systematically distort the debate on climate change:

Look for the next round of debate to center on what Americans are willing to pay and do to stave off the worst of global warming. So far the answer seems to be, not much. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds less than half in favor of requiring high-mileage cars or energy-efficient appliances and buildings. No amount of white papers, reports and studies is likely to change that. If anything can, it will be the climate itself. This summer, Texas was hit by exactly the kind of downpours and flooding expected in a greenhouse world, and Las Vegas and other cities broiled in record triple-digit temperatures. Just last week the most accurate study to date concluded that the length of heat waves in Europe has doubled, and their frequency nearly tripled, in the past century. The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century. Snowpack whose water is crucial to both cities and farms is diminishing. It's enough to make you wish that climate change were a hoax, rather than the reality it is.

This sort of swing in climate coverage is important for several reasons. For one thing, it puts another nail in the coffin of the idea that there even is a meaningful debate about climate change (though, as RealClimate put it in a slightly different context, "That's a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one.") The debate is well and truly over.

Another implication is that, with the end of the debate over the existance of climate change, we're entering what Bill McKibben calls "the Oh Shit stage of climate awareness." Expect a lot of people to get really freaked out, and expect them to grow increasingly alarmed as it becomes clearer that we will need to change a lot more than anyone powerful in Washington D.C. is ready to yet even vaguely acknowledge: we need, in fact. to make huge strides towards becoming a climate-neutral society in the next decade.

The third implication is that the Carbon Lobby is about to undergo what Jamais calls tobaccofication. It is about to become economic and political suicide for large corporations to deny climate change, advocate delay or in any way act as other than the newly converted. It will be an almost exact parallel to the demise of the Smoking Lobby and its friends (except that, when all's said and done, the human toll of climate change will probably end up being orders of magnitude larger and far longer-lasting than the toll exacted by cigarettes). This villification is a very good thing, quite well-deserved, and those of us who are advocating climate action ought not even consider letting up on these guys.

In any case, bravo Newsweek! Now the real work begins.


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Comments

Spot on. Except I'm very worried that we might go past the Oh Shit stage into the Too Late, Shame About The Developing World stage.


Posted by: Scatter on 9 Aug 07

Good to see a news magazine like Newsweek trying its best to gain back some credibility - especially after the Guantanamo Quran desecration situation.


Posted by: Michele Champagne on 9 Aug 07

Good to see a news magazine like Newsweek trying its best to gain back some credibility - especially after the Guantanamo Quran desecration situation.


Posted by: Michele Champagne on 9 Aug 07

Yes they published a great article, but unfortunately I think their eye-catching cover will do a lot of damage. Most people walking by the newstand will take a look at it and only see the title. They will go away thinking that Newsweek thinks the whole thing is a hoax.


Posted by: Sylvain Duford on 10 Aug 07



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