Monday, June 22, 2015

Doubt Meets a Mean Upper Cut

I just found my latest heroine in Naomi Oreskes.  She is not a female boxer in the traditional sense.

Trained as a geologist and obviously smart as a whip, she has become the staunch challenger to the scientific community's career naysayers and deniers.  But she does it on their terms, with research and solid data, and that's probably what makes them so incensed.

Dr. Fred Singer and the staff scientists of the George C Marshall Institute are some of the most vocal.  They call her many things including a lightening rod.  Her response is: "But remember, the whole purpose of a lightning rod is to keep people safe.”

Her book Merchants of Doubt is a must read.  She calls out the very small part of the scientific community that has strategically sowed doubt about some of the biggest issues.  We're talking not only climate change but also the health impacts of tobacco and the effects of acid rain. 

With her climate change work, she shows that about 97 percent of working climate scientists accept that global warming is happening, that humans are largely responsible, and that the situation poses long-term risks.  She places the small minority of deniers on the wrong side of science and history. 

The plot twist that gets me is that while the tobacco companies and the fossil fuel companies are motivated by greed, the merchants of doubt are in it for a different reason.  Oreskes says they oppose these major findings and the necessary sea changes that follow for "a deep ideological reason: contempt for government regulation," according to the New York Times.

In the world of communicating the science of climate change and fighting the deniers, that's an eye opener.  Knowing the motivation, the end game, of your enemy is half the battle to overcoming them.  Course it always helps to have a Naomi in your corner. 

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