Framing Science

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The National Journal has released its annual survey of Congressional members on their views of climate science. When asked: “Do you think it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made pollution?,” of the 38 Democratic members of Congress interviewed, 98 percent answered “yes.”

But among the 39 Republican members of Congress surveyed, just 26% percent answered in the affirmative. Among the reasons from Republican members on why they continue to doubt the science, the National Journal quotes the following:

“Reasonable people have doubts. For every Al Gore, there is an intelligent scientist armed with legitimate facts to debunk him.”

“In the ’70s, the ‘consensus of scientists’ was that we were beginning global cooling. Now it is global warming. Excuse me if I am skeptical of this newest form of secular religion. Perhaps we should pause and take a breath before we drink the new Kool-Aid!”

“What has been proven is that a well-targeted pop-culture campaign can trump even the best of science. The bad news is, a very few will get very rich, and the rest of us will foot the bill with mythical creations like cap and trade. The impact of such programs on the environment: Zero. The cost to the American public: Huge. The grin on Al Gore’s very wealthy face: Priceless!”

“It’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Democrats are OK with the idea of surrendering our spot atop the world economy.”

Comments

  1. #1 Warren
    June 11, 2008

    What has been proven is that a well-targeted pop-culture campaign can trump even the best of science.

    Yes! Intelligent Design must go! It’s a clear pandering to a self-excluding minority which has no grasp on reali — what? Global what?

    Never mind.

  2. #2 FutureMD
    June 11, 2008

    “Reasonable people have doubts. For every Al Gore, there is an intelligent scientist armed with legitimate facts to debunk him.”

    So, one scientist? Not much of an anti-consensus.

  3. #3 Marion Delgado
    June 11, 2008

    They don’t even understand the kind of simplistic faith-based economics they champion.

    There IS no “our spot.” Capitalism is nationless. Unless by “our” that moron meant “our” at Exxon or something.

    Capitalism and a national economy are in complete opposition. The closest you can come is a tax base – and even that is earmarked for “capitalist support functions” like cops, courts and military to referee and protect trade.

    Hence, that’s not a contribution of capitalism to a nation-state – it’s a contribution of a nation-state to capitalism.

    When the US eliminated tariffs for practical purposes, it lost income, and gave transnationals a leg up over their nation-bound competition.

    The best the GOP can come up with that’s consistent with their alleged principles is that the presence of regulations of any sort, ever, for any reason, make markets less efficient at generating money, and that necessarily translates to inefficiency in the utilization of energy and resources, once you’ve established a baseline that you can shop around for bare subsistence-level wages.

  4. #4 erik
    June 11, 2008

    Matt,

    I think you left out the most important/relevant quote from Republicans – one Republican congress member stated:

    “If there’s one thing poll after poll indicates, it’s that the science is not settled on this issue.”

    This highlights why public opinion about science-based issues is so important, Many policy-Makers and people in government use public opinion as a mechanism to JUDGE THE WORTH OF THE SCIENCE! (or at least use public opinion as an excuse to disparage it) – regardless of what scientists say or the actual level of scientific consensus.

    The science community needs to wake up to this fact, that all the briefings on the Hill will only have a limited impact – they need to reach out to the general public if they want their scientific findings found to be worthy and valid in the eyes of many policy-makers.

    I

  5. #5 ga73
    June 11, 2008

    The surprising piece to me is that there are actually democrats that don’t believe in climate change!

  6. #6 Max
    June 11, 2008

    “If there’s one thing poll after poll indicates, it’s that the science is not settled on this issue.”

    Ok, let’s try poll after poll of scientists. To say of anything that “the science is settled” is a profoundly unscientifc statement.

    By the way, ham handed Orwellian editing of Wikipedia and coded ad hominem attacks like “global warming denier” are also unscientific.

  7. #7 TheNerd
    June 12, 2008

    I once had someone say “you’re one of those people who believe in global warming?” I had to remind her that global warming doesn’t need me to believe in it, for it to exist.

  8. #8 MikeB
    June 12, 2008

    I’m just wondering who the Democrats who are still in denial are?

  9. #9 gmh
    June 12, 2008

    Your choice of framing the headline as rejecting “climate science” spins the poll question injudiciously. The ill-posed question sets forth a very high bar of “beyond a reasonable doubt” and lays recent warming solely at the feet of “man-made pollution”. This very lawyerly phrasing confounds the complexity of climate change and provides ammunition for debate by soundbite. How many climate scientists would ascribe to the argument that warming is unambiguously attributable to anthropogenic sources only?

  10. #10 Anonymous
    June 12, 2008

    The Repubs are right. Global warming is not solely the cause of humans. The entire solar system is warming up, it is not just our planet.

  11. #11 Brian
    June 12, 2008

    You can always tell which groups take this issue seriously by the terms they use. In England, for example, I noticed that “Climate Change” is almost exclusively used in reference to the man-made impact on the environment, while the hit-me-on-the-head-we’re-so-dumb term “Global Warming” is used pretty consistently in the US.

    As long as one stupid republican can say “But this state was cooler than last year, so global warming is a lie,” science is defeated by its own shoddy labeling.

    Sadly, this is the case in MANY fields, where a theoretically loaded term gains traction only to ultimately cloud a real problem that doesn’t fit the term. Of course, being an incredibly conservative researcher doesn’t get you the grants…

  12. #12 Old Geezer
    June 12, 2008

    Do the math. “All those Democrats who are still in denial” equals one. My money is on Lieberman.

  13. #13 brian
    June 12, 2008

    “The ill-posed question sets forth a very high bar of “beyond a reasonable doubt” and lays recent warming solely at the feet of “man-made pollution”.”

    No it doesn’t, read the question again. The question simply asks if the earth is warming because of man-made pollution, not if ALL of the earth’s warming is because of man-made pollution.

    If that had been the question, you’d have a point. It wasn’t the question, so you don’t.

  14. #14 Hank Roberts
    June 12, 2008

    > For every Al Gore, there is
    > an intelligent scientist …

    Lindzen, I assume they’re thinking of?
    Can you name a second one?

    Nobody’s claimed to have found more than one Al Gore, as far as I’m aware.

    Maybe that’s why they fear cloning so much?

  15. #15 Jeremy O'Wheel
    June 16, 2008

    Anonymous wrote;

    “The Repubs are right. Global warming is not solely the cause of humans. The entire solar system is warming up, it is not just our planet.”

    NASA have actually pretty convincingly shown that this is wrong. If the warming we’re experiencing was due to an increase in solar radiation then the outer atmosphere would be warming up because more heat would be reaching it from the Sun. If the warming is due to the “Greenhouse effect” then the outer atmosphere would cool down because although it’s getting the same amount of heat from the sun, it’s getting less from the Earth, since that heat is being trapped rather than radiating out. Using this simple theory, NASA have indeed shown that the outer atmosphere is cooling down, proving pretty conclusively that the warming we are experiencing is due to a reduction in heat escaping the atmosphere and not an increase in heat entering the atmosphere.

  16. #16 Elliot Kennel
    June 16, 2008

    Actually you can’t have 98% agreement with a sample size of 38. If 37 out of 38 answered affirmatively, that would be 97%, rounded to two figures. That’s a small quibble. But also the form of the question is important. I believe that the earth warmed from 1975 to 2001, and that at least some of that was probably due to human activities (so sign me up as affirmative). I’m less sure whether polar bears or anyone else face climatological catastrophe by 2100 if CO2 emissions continue unregulated (I’m a denier if the question is reframed in that manner).

  17. #17 Jules
    July 3, 2008

    There’s one thing which intrigues me : is it possible there’s a connection between the belief in two topics which at first glimpse seem to be unrelated : evolution and global warming.

    if you look here : http://jules-klimaat.blogspot.com/2008/06/enquete.html
    you’ll see the results, split by party, on the questions do you believe in evolution and do you believe GW.

    The results are remarkably similar ! To such an extent, it’s VERY tempting to state that people who deny evolution, also deny GW.

    Creationists dismissed science once, so that maybe makes them more receptive to the climate-denial lobby claims that the ‘institutional’ science is wrong about GW too ?

    Maybe even to such an extent that the true underlying thing this poll is showing is not the belief in GW-science, but the belief in science itself ?

    I know i’m just jumping to conclusions, but it would be interesting to have an enquete which compares the possible correlation to verify this hypothesis.