We've been reporting recently on the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen, where some of the world's top climate scientists and experts are meeting to collect and synthesize the research in climate change since the Fourth Assessment Report released by the IPCC in November of 2007.
At the other end of the spectrum last week was the annual Heartland Institute Climate Change Conference, this year entitled, Global Warming: Was It Ever Really a Crises?. Well gosh, Heartland Institute, I don't know, what do you think? Are we going to have a reasoned and frank discussion about it?
And then there's Rush Limbaugh. Now, I suspect most people get it about Rush. He's a hack, albeit a rich one. The world is chock full of rich hacks. It's hard to resist the obvious joke that he is himself a major contributor of the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming. He's apparently been going on lately about the "hysterics" of "pseudo-scientists", leading, of course, to his own expert opinion, delivered in his usual histrionic, hysterical tone, that "there is no reason to believe in global warming."
Rush is a pseudo-intellectual dealing in an ideology of division, fear, and hate; the Heartland Institute is a pseudo-think tank that, as denier watchdogs Greenfyre and DeSmogBlog have adroitly and consistently pointed out , pursue a wholly political agenda, once only thinly veiled, but now largely abandoning any pretense of "doing science."
While groups like Heartland and individuals like Limbaugh shout from their platforms in an effort to impugn the growing scientific and empirical evidence of increasingly rapid climate change, they are forced to rely ever more on straw man attacks, ad hominem arguments, and the same sort of radical, alarmist, and cult-like rhetoric they themselves accuse of anyone who dare oppose them. They would lead us straight into another dark age if they could.
The Heartland Institute is largely marginalized, followed only by those drinking the same kool-aid who, like James Inhofe, doggedly pursue questionable sources and techniques to support their position while accusing others of employing those same tactics.
Limbaugh is, sadly, touted in many corners as the de-facto leader of the Republican party (how far they've slid!), there are people that take what he says as truth. Some of those people are Republican leaders in Washington.
At a time when the scientific community expresses growing concern that to our peril will we fail to sufficiently meet the challenge now upon us, evidence increasingly shows that most projections of the impacts of climate change has been too conservative. We cannot allow leaders to continue to confuse honest skepticism with ignorant denialism.
For unless leaders and citizens alike are able to distinguish between the two we are stuck, like a deer in the headlights, by the roar of ignorance from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and the Heartland Institute.