Once again, the New York Times has let columnist Bret Stephens publish unfact-checked nonsense on climate change and falsely smear environmentalists. Stephens, who has been widely criticized for spreading misinformation on climate change, tells Houstonians and indeed all Americans that “the paradox of our time is that the part of the world that has never been safer from the vagaries of nature seems never to have been more terrified of them.” Not only is the first part of this statement false — straight out denial of the ever-worsening extreme weather driven by climate change — the second half is cold comfort to those suffering through the ongoing disaster left in the wake of Harvey’s off-the charts precipitation.
We can choose to debate whether or not mankind is responsible for global climate change…or even if global climate change is real. What seems more difficult to refute is the idea that natural disasters are becoming more…well, disastrous. With Hurricane Irma careening through the Atlantic with sustained wind speeds of 190 MPH just after Hurricane Harvey laid waste to southeast Texas, one thing seems clear- these aren’t your father’s tropical storms.
Have we reached a point of no return? Are we now in a cycle in which natural disasters like tropical storms become more frequent and more destructive? Or do we, like Bret Stephens, continue whistling past the graveyard as we convince ourselves “the world that has never been safer from the vagaries of nature?”
“The TRUE paradox of our time,” climatologist Mike Mann told ThinkProgress in an email, “is that peddlers of anti-scientific nonsense like Brett Stephens are granted such a prominent forum as the New York Times editorial page for promoting their dangerous disinformation.” Mann is author with cartoonist Tom Toles of the book, “The Madhouse Effect.”
Stephens latest piece of nonsense, “Hurricanes, Climate and the Capitalist Offset,” is riddled with smears, strawmen, misleading statements and falsehoods.
Stephens’ argument seems nothing if not a justification for continuing the status quo and pretending nothing is amiss. That historically has been the primary strategy of those who deny global climate change is real…but what happens when we begin to see severe storms becoming ever more severe, destructive, and deadly? Do we continue to deny what seems to be unfolding before us? Or do we try to figure out what we might do to help mitigate damage already done?
The alarmingly and demonstrably false and misleading arguments employed by Stephens seem designed to provide justification for elevating economic concerns over the fate and health of this planet and those of us who call it home.
any of the “vagaries of nature” are being juiced into monster superstorms by carbon pollution and climate change. And being terrified by what is happening is not irrational. It is prudent. Indeed, it is because the nations of the world are justifiably terrified by what is to come — which science makes clear is much worse than what we are seeing now — that they unanimously agreed to leave most fossil fuels in the ground and keep total global warming to well below 2°C.
If we keep listening to Stephens and his ilk, if we keep downplaying the threat, then we are headed towards levels of warming that will make 1000-year superstorms like Harvey and Sandy the new norm and create worse superstorms we can’t even imagine today.
When something like 97% of climate scientists attest to the reality of global climate change, denial seems a particularly dangerous and stupid strategy…yet that’s the basis of Stephens’ argument. The “vagaries of nature” aren’t to be feared so much as our collective ignorance and denial.
Continuing to fiddle as Rome burns around us seems an indefensible strategy, but denial and dishonesty are for Stephens the order of the day.
Because science is just another theory…right???