Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 23rd 2015 Contents A43
August 23, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
The Obama administration s pro-
posal to fight climate change by cut-
ting carbon pollution is opening yet
another round of political debate in
the United States. And the fallout
will be seen in contentious legal chal-
lenges from states in the coming
Climate change has long been a
politicised issue in the US to a degree
not found in other countries, experts
say, even though its impacts span the
An Ipso Mori Global Trends poll
found that Americans are generally
much more skeptical about climate
change and what should be done
about it than people in other devel-
oped countries. That debate spawned
a movement of so-called climate
Those who initially cast doubt on
climate change largely came from the
political right who "saw climate
change as a threat to free market eco-
nomics," said Naomi Oreskes, a pro-
fessor of the history of science at Har-
Taking action, they said, "would
lead to the expansion of big govern-
ment, more regulation of markets and
a movement toward socialism,"
according to Oreskes, the co-author
of book Merchants of Doubt, which
explores the history of climate change
And that debate has garnered much
media attention through the years,
"The press then invites (skeptics)
on TV, and the public sees a debate,
the public sees a debate and thinks
we don t really know (about climate
change,)" Oreskes said. "Contrarians
get a lot of limelight just by being
contrarian. Media attention keeps
However Patrick Michaels, the
director of the Center for the Study
of Science at the Cato Institute, who
has been called a skeptic, thinks
another dynamic is at work in the US
that is not found in a lot of other
"Unlike in much of Europe, there s
a substantial mistrust of authority,"
he said, adding that the founding
fathers were wary of a powerful central
States challenging Obama plan
That sentiment remains strong
today. At least 15 states plans to chal-
lenge the Obama plan in courts this
fall, saying, among other claims, that
the federal government has over-
reached its authority.
Aaron McCright, a sociologist at
Michigan State University who has
studied the public understanding of
climate science and policy, sees con-
servatives in the Republican Party as
drivers of climate change skepticism.
But that hasn t always been the case.
For example, the conservative
Nixon administration created the
Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and passed clean air and water
legislation, initiatives many conser-
vatives today would likely oppose.
The struggling economy of the mid
and late 1970s changed all of that.
When Ronald Reagan became pres-
ident in 1981, one of the main thrusts
of his administration was to "get gov-
ernment off our backs," McCright
"The conservatives in the late 1980s
and early 90s really ramped up their
anti-environmentalism," he said.
McCright said during this time,
conservatives felt they had "few allies
in academia and journalism" and
needed to create their own intellectual
space to promote conservative ideas,
largely in the form of think tanks.
Oreskes said deniers and skeptics
also began to personally attack the
scientists who d done some of the key
research on climate change.
"By the late 90s and early 2000s,
the attacks get worse," she said. "The
scientific community was blindsided.
They thought they could get the prob-
lem solved with science."
Sociologist McCright said the skep-
tic movement mimicked the way the
tobacco industry fought efforts to cast
cigarette smoking as unhealthy by
raising doubt on the science that said
smoking was dangerous.
Richard Muller, scientific director
of Berkeley Earth and a skeptic who
says that the link between global
warming and climate change has not
been scientifically proven, wonders
why Europeans are not more on board.
"The real question in my mind, is
why there has not been more skep-
ticism in Europe," he said. "The solu-
tions being proposed in the US will
not do the job.
"The vast bulk of that warming is
going to come from China, India and
the developing world," he said. "Any
solution that ignores the developing
world is not a solution." (VOA)
fight in US sparks
"The vast bulk of that
warming is going to
come from China,
India and the
Any solution that
developing world is
not a solution."
Richard Muller, scientific director
of Berkeley Earth
Demonstrators stage a protest at the open-pit coal mine near Garzweiler, western Germany yesterday. The
banner reads: We do not have to stop protests. leave the coal underground. Several hundred environmental
activists have stormed a lignite mine in western Germany to protest against the use of coal for electricity
production. AP PHOTO
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