President Obama at MIT calls down those who make cynical claims about climate change

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“There are going to be those who make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.  So we’re going to have to work on those folks,” said President Obama today in a clean energy speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, Bonner and Associates, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, and others are all culpable.  What can and should President Obama do in the face of growing climate change risks, risks that might be more swiftly ameliorated through public policy if it were not for these dishonest tactics? 

post by Anne Polansky

President Obama’s remarks at MIT today (see transcript) contain an important message: 

Leaders in the business community are standing with leaders in the environmental community to protect the economy and the planet we leave for our children… So we are seeing a convergence.

The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized. But I think it’s important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we’ll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we’re engaged in.  There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy—when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim—make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.

So we’re going to have to work on those folks.

These are encouraging words.  But what do they mean?  What can the Obama Administration do to counteract the global warming disinformation campaign?  We have a few ideas.  Here are two:

1.  Provide additional leadership and resources for federal climate scientists and other experts to talk directly to the public and the media about the threats associated with global climate disruption.  The best defense is a good offense:  the more the American public is armed with evidence on climate change and it potential consequences if left unchecked, the less policymakers will be disarmed by what the President called the “naysayers.”

The activist organization 350.org posed this question for President Obama today at MIT:

When he was vice-president, Al Gore said of climate: “The minimum that is scientifically necessary far exceeds the maximum that is politically feasible.”  Since that still seems true, what’s your plan of attack for really educating Americans about the dangers that global warming poses?

2.  Urge Congress to close the loophole in the Lobby Disclosure Act by requiring more transparency and disclosure by groups engaged in “Astroturf” tactics.  Among others, James Hoggan, author of Climate Cover-Up (see our book review), has called upon Congress to deal with the problem of Astroturfing (see his August 19 post on DeSmogBlog).

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