Picture the scene: two elderly Jewish men on a bench, in early ’30s Berlin. One is staring, astonished, at the other, who has just unfolded a copy of Julius Streicher‘s Der Stürmer — the notorious, viciously anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper.
“Why are you reading that trash?” asked the first man.
“It makes me feel good!” answered his old friend.
“Good? — That rag! All it says is how terrible the Jews are.”
“Exactly! Whenever I have a bad day, when I can’t sleep, when I’m unsure…I just pick up my newspaper,” the second man said. “I reach for my newspaper and read how the Jews control the banks, the press, everything!”
He added, “I never knew we had such power!”
Now imagine we’re talking climate scientists, and think of the sustained attack on the individuals in and the intellectual apparatus of the study of anthropogenic global warming from the organized right, the GOP, and the vast wealth of the herd of Kochs and Scaifes and all their ilk.
We learn in the climate denialist community how climate scientists have somehow managed to organize a vast international, multi-decade conspiracy to foist the fraud of climate change on an unsuspecting public and their governments.
They’ve done so with no defections from the ranks, and for rewards that are either corrupt — all those vast stacks of ducats that accrue to those who count tree-rings — or mere religious delusion, that dolatrous worship of Mother Earth.
Who knew? Who could have guessed that mild-mannered atmospheric physicists, ice dynamicists, solar physicists and all the rest were so well organized, and had such power as to be able to perpetrate a deception unprecedented in the history of human knowledge.
All of which is to say that in less than an hour, at 5 p.m. EDT, you can listen to a conversation* I’m going to have with Michael E. Mann, lead author on the now famous “hockey stick” papers, about what we know, what we need to investigate, and what it’s like to face the full career-and-reputation threatening wrath of the anti-science forces in our polity. We’ll also discuss what we can do to shift the balance of the debate, and perhaps the policy with which the US confronts climate change. Michael is more optimistic than I am, and I’m going to try to find out why.
*That’s the link for the podcast later, too.
Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Conspiracy of the Batavians, 1661-1662