It looks like the Democrats are losing their patience with those who deny the importance of climate change. Just last week, Senator Harry Reid told those assembled at the National Clean Energy Conference in Las Vegas that "It's time for us all... to stop acting like those who ignore the [climate] crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don't." And today at the Tahoe Summit California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a new website, maintained by his Office of Planning and Research, that takes on climate denialists in no uncertain terms.
The website, "Climate Change: Just The Facts," pulls few punches in its countering of those who would deny that our planet is warming, and that it is our release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that is responsible for the majority of that warming.
The website introduces the topic by mentioning California's campaign to move the state to a renewable energy footing, and to prepare to mitigate the worst effects of climate change on the state. It then starts taking apart the opposition:
While California is taking action, some of those who oppose the move to renewable energy and cleaner transportation have mischaracterized the science of climate change in an effort to create artificial uncertainty about the existence and causes of climate change.
The fact is that on the key issues, the science is clear: climate change is real and happening now; human-made greenhouse gas emissions are affecting our planet; and we need to take action. Just as we reached a point where we stopped debating whether cigarette smoke causes cancer, we need to end the climate change debate and focus on how to solve the problem.
The site analyzes the motivation of many prominent deniers:
A small but vocal group has aggressively spread misinformation about the science, aiming to cast doubt on well-established findings and conclusions. Their goal is to create confusion and uncertainty, thereby preventing meaningful action to remedy the problem. The same strategy was used cynically for decades by the tobacco industry after research showed that cigarettes caused cancer. In fact, some of the same individuals who have spoken out against climate science also claimed that cigarettes were safe.
Rather handily for those of us who'll find ourselves talking about climate change with misinformed friends and relatives during this record-breakingly hot barbecue season, the Office of Planning and Research provides a single-page list of common denialist claims and rebuttals thereof, including those frustratingly frequent references to "Climategate" and the handful of "scientists' petitions" stating opposition to the concept of anthropogenic climate change, mainly signed by people with no expertise in climate science.
Governor Brown, announcing the petition today at the Lake Tahoe Summit, used the alpine lake as a focal point for his remarks. "Global warming's impact on Lake Tahoe is well documented. It is just one example of how, after decades of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humanity is getting dangerously close to the point of no return," said Governor Brown. "Those who still deny global warming's existence should wake up and honestly face the facts."