Why Deny Global Warming?

Ted Cruz has recently been asked, by voters no less, why he denies global warming. His response has been to double down — nay, triple and quadruple down — on denial. His standard answer is a litany of idiotic denier memes, moronic talking points that are so easily refuted they can’t possibly appeal to anyone with half a brain and a smidgen of actual knowledge. If you’re in denial yourself, Ted Cruz sounds great; confident, fast-talking, all the right buzzwords, insults for your most reviled targets. But if you know the least bit of the truth about global warming, it’s far too obvious how full of baloney he is.

It raises a fascinating question: why is Ted Cruz (like so many others) in such extreme denial, and more to the point, why does he not only admit it, but flaunt it? Why not do like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, play the “I’m not a scientist” card and fall back on that other zombie lie — the “ruin the economy” lie, the one that isn’t just false, it’s the opposite of true?


Here’s a hypothesis.

Cruz and his ilk might actually be smarter than Rubio and his ilk. He’s figured out that the “ruin the economy” lie will never work once people figure out that man-made climate change is real. When the public is convinced, all the empty talk about it being “too expensive” to stop screwing mother nature will only bring ridicule.

People know, in their gut, that you shouldn’t screw with mother nature. They know that doing so costs big. Sea level rise is already costing big in coastal cities like Miami, even on a clear day, and when there is a storm the surge and flooding is worse than it would have been. Drought is already costing big, not because it’s caused by global warming but because it’s made so much worse. Heat waves are already killing people by the thousands, even by the tens of thousands, and even if you dismiss the cost of human life with a wave of your hand, you can’t ignore the cost to the economy.

So they have to maintain some semblance of doubt. Doubt is their product.

As long as they can keep up a veneer of doubt about the reality of man-made climate, even those who believe it’s real will have lingering doubts about its severity. If you believe but you’re not certain, maybe you can make yourself believe it won’t be that bad.

But when doubt about its reality is gone, the danger will hit people like a ton of bricks. They’ll know that unless we act now, and act dramatically, to change our ways, if we let global warming continue unchecked, then “ruin the economy” will be the result of not acting.

Even die-hard religious fundamentalists won’t buy the “too expensive to do anything” lie. They’ll start talking — some already have — about how what we’re doing now is an affront to God himself. They’ll be angry, they’ll ask how we can justify not only failing to take care of God’s garden, but actively wrecking it.

The whole “maybe it’s real but it’s too expensive to do anything” strategy is a loser. Whether you’re a passionate environmentalist or a passion-play evangelical, you know how wrong it is to screw mother nature.

So Ted Cruz and his ilk will toe the “not happening” line. Without doubt about reality, there won’t be any doubt about consequences.


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23 responses to “Why Deny Global Warming?

  1. Actually I think it’s not about doubt but about certainty.

    And Ted Cruz probably couldn’t care less about the facts or about physics – his job is to deliver on a bargain: Many people simply *want* to believe that there’s nothing happening and he simply delivers reassurance in exchange for a vote.

    It’s not even important whether or not he himself believes the nonsense he’s spouting – per Occam’s razor it’s completely sufficient if he has identified Global Warming of one of the viable issues where he can sell certainty and reassurance in exchange for a vote…

  2. (Tomlin’s Law: “No matter how cynical you are, it is never enough”)

    So a more cynical view fits well: the reason why the carbon fuels industry purchased the Republican opposition to any restriction on limiting carbon is because they realized a bipartisan effort like the Fed – would be tremendously effective in restricting carbon fuels. They had to stop that from building momentum. (Remember that McCain and a few other Rs were starting to see the problem). So carbon fuel dark money and the Kochs funded the think tanks, Republicans were fewer and cheaper to buy out… and very skilled at obstructionism. And ignored Ethical messes. The industry only needs to prolong free carbon for a few more years (or less) because when runaway warming kicks in from methane release, then they will be truthful in saying that natural carbon emissions are more impactful than human made carbon. Their mantra will be “why bother?” Very cynical. But fiduciary duty compels that action, and it fits as most plausible

  3. Colleagues and former professors testify to Cruz’s brilliance (and in addition, to his despicability as a human being). It seems to me that the only way a man like him could actually believe the denial he spouts is if his rational thought processes have somehow been overridden by his Dominionist religious convictions. But it’s also quite possible he understands the validity of the science and, in his quest for power, just doesn’t give a damn. He is a genuine sociopath, and, I think, the most dangerous of any of the US presidential candidates.

  4. Would Cruz’s strategy, if that’s what it is, survive a record warmest year in the satellite data?

  5. I think it’s much simpler than that. He doesn’t like being told what to do. He has a natural sense of superiority that won’t allow such a thing to happen. Look at the way his fellow senators detest him.

  6. I take another view of this, that Cruz is primarily an opportunist whose actions are based on calculation. Since he arrived in the Senate, his policy has been to find what the most extreme wing of his party desire, then double down on that, even if it costs the Republican Party credibility and political advantage. This is why Cruz is the most hated man in US politics today.

    It may seem to be crazy, but he wants to establish a real party of the right, rather than a catch-all GOP, and be its undisputed leader. Donald Trump has thrown a bit of a spanner into that, and it may be Trump who will gain the support Cruz thought would be for him.

    So Cruz does not give a rat’s ass for the “median US voter”, who actually accepts the reality of climate change and the need for a renewables energy policy.

    Besides, what counts in US elections is not what the voter’s want, it is what donors’ want. And the rich donors who contribute to Republican politicians have signalled that they want no truck with any policy that might charge fossil fuels for the cost of climate pollution. So Cruz must loudly advertise his adherence to the denier cause.

    So Cruz is pleasing two key groups for him: the extreme right to whom any climate change policy stinks of librul-ism, and wealthy donors whom he needs to fund his burgeoning ambition. .

  7. David B. Benson

    Cruz is possessed by a demon.

    • Demons have an interest in the survival of the human species, if only for a continued supply of dammed souls. I doubt that they would be voting for Cruz.

  8. While denires obfuscating the issue is ‘annoying’, the real problem lies with those of us who are the vast majority and do acknowledge there is a need to mitigate and yet still do nothing, either personally or with our vote. Has anyones mind been changed by Cruz etal over their denial,? Unlikely I would think, he attracts those who are in denial anyway and his squeaky wheel gets our oil of outrage and thus free exposure .

    I recently started reading a blog by Professor Susan Krumdieck, a post she made the other day (her second) brings home the real issue I think

    http://low-emission-future.blogspot.co.nz/2016/02/family-and-fossil-carbon-safety-margin.html

    “I realise that the idea of dramatically reducing fossil fuel production is unthinkable to most people my age. I have talked to some retired people my mother’s age about reduced and curtailed fossil fuel production. They have not been receptive to the idea. I have talked to young people my daughter’s age about reducing their travel and consumption and driving, and they have not been receptive to the idea”

    There in lies the real problem.

  9. How much is the fossil fuel industry, and the electrical and automobile industries, donating to Cruz’s campaigns? Therein lies your answer.

  10. Back in around 2010, I remember wondering if the decade 2010 – 2020 would really be warmer than 2000 – 2009. Would I bet on it? I wasn’t sure. Looking back, I was clearly a fool to have any doubts.
    But at least I was thinking about it, and I remembered what I thought at the time. And that informs my thinking now. Most people haven’t thought much about it, certainly not to the extent of remembering their past thoughts. Any doubt will be enough to sway those who haven’t thought much.
    Maybe in a really hot year they won’t be swayed – but once the hot year is a couple of years in the past- those doubts will come back.

  11. Don Gisselbeck

    Is Ted Cruz the Antichrist? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  12. I think we are seeing an exercise in responsibility avoidance. Whilst climate responsibility has not yet become legally explicit, the legal precedent looks quite clear; for those in positions of trust and responsibility to fail to take the clear expert advice on something that will endanger the lives and livelihoods of those they act on behalf of is negligence. When lives and livelihoods are harmed it can be criminal negligence. It can have serious legal consequences.

    For those seeking to avoid such responsibility – and most crucially that includes many of the most powerful and influential captains of commerce and industry and those who’s livelihoods are bound to them – it is necessary to have some reasonable grounds for justifying ignoring that advice. Having credentialled experts willing to lend themselves to denying the validity of the advice of their peers is one element. Simply remaining ignorant is important too – “I’m not an expert, I didn’t know” goes with “the advice looked controversial, uncertain and unreliable”.

    Several factors exacerbate the problem – most crucial is the inversion of acting versus not acting; BAU is actually the continuation of strong, planet altering actions but in this debate it’s seen as refraining from action. Waiting until there is more certainty is applied to strongly to actions to mitigate but is barely applied to continuing BAU. It’s effectively a certainty that there will be dangerous climate consequences, but somehow we have a situation where delaying and waiting for “more certainty” to do something about it is framed as reasonable and more crucially, as responsible.

    Whether individual politicians or parties are responding or leading this exercise is moot; it’s a team effort. The larger, more influential parts of commerce and industry have been weighing the issue in terms of near term costs, competitiveness and profitability not science, and with climate consequences by preference categorised as external unavoidables for which there has been no prior precedent for responsibility.

    Climate change consequences get seen as falling out when and as they may but the most immediate and direct consequences of accepting responsibility – regulations, restrictions, pigovian taxation – are readily seen as avoidable. To some ways of thinking it could be seen as the responsibility of CEO’s and Directors to seek to avoid such responsibility in order to avoid what looks like an avoidable burden of costs.The extraordinary influence they have includes lobbying, judicious donating, PR, advertising and tankthink and to a large extent mainstream political parties fall into the role of advocates for their interests. But their use of economic alarmism has been incredibly effective.

    We are being fed the message that to doubt climate science is properly ‘scientific’ and to withhold acceptance of expert advice and support for policies base on it is a responsible application of that ‘sceptical’ principle; but actual responsibility, to avoid being criminally negligent would more correctly involve taking the expert advice as given, even during any period during which those who are capable of it might educate themselves and review and critique it. To defer to experts and appeal to authority, despite the widespread maligning, is actually the most correct and responsible choice for all but working experts within a field – and even for them there should be some responsibility to avoid misrepresenting or maligning the work of their peers.

    The politicians who are the advocates for climate responsibility avoidance are both recipients of and manufacturers of doubt as a product; they will be on the front line for changes to regulations but need to have some reasonable basis for holding the expert advice to be uncertain and unreliable – even though in many jurisdictions I think they are effectively immune from charges of negligence their public reputations and ‘trust’ capital requires justifying their (in)actions.

    (apologies for excessive length)

    • Insightful, IMO. I particularly agree with you about:

      the inversion of acting versus not acting; BAU is actually the continuation of strong, planet altering actions but in this debate it’s seen as refraining from action. Waiting until there is more certainty is applied to strongly to actions to mitigate but is barely applied to continuing BAU.

      I’ve tried vigorously to make this point quite a few times, but there’s a strong presumption that the status quo must be innocuous, apparently simply because, well, it’s the status quo and hey, we’re all good people here, so…

      In reality, of course, the status quo is predicated on highly destructive principles and needs urgently to be restructured. And doing so is neither easy, cheap, nor certain. No wonder we tend to shy away. Yet things are changing–slowly. Right now, we need to do everything we can to keep climate deniers out of as many political offices as possible.

  13. Why deny global warming? Because it’s what the audience (Republican voters) demand to hear and Cruz is trying to get their votes.

    One need only look at last night’s Republican debate and contrast the numerous lies, distortions, and otherwise outrageous statements Donald Trump has made in the past with the handful of truths he told during the debate.

    The easily debunked outrageous statements fit in with the Republican narrative and reinforce their beliefs so they are accepted with nary a criticism. The handful of truths are a different story. They clash with Republican’s cherished fictional history and were roundly and loudly booed.

    It’s OK to claim Obama was born in Kenya, that he’s a Marxist, that ‘ObamaCare’ has destroyed jobs and the economy, that the financial meltdown and ensuing recession/depression was Obama’s fault, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

    But if you point out basic truths – that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, that Iraq didn’t have WMDs, that George W. Bush was President when the US suffered its worst terrorist attack you have gone a bridge too far for the GOP.

    For many years I have contemplated a ‘theory of being wrong.’ I boiled it down to four main categories: ignorance, stupidity, insane, or just plain evil. Ted Cruz is too smart to fall into one of the first two categories – so he’s either insane or evil.

  14. In regards to Ted Cruz possibly being the Anti-Christ I cannot help noticing that:

    A=18=6+6+6
    B=24=6+6+6+6
    C=30=6+6+6+6+6
    D=36=6+6+6+6+6+6
    (Continue pattern through the alphabet.)

    T=132
    E= 42
    D= 36
    C= 30
    R=120
    U=138
    Z=168
    ——–
    666

    I freely give permission to use and spread this proof.

  15. Outstanding Brebalang! It turns out that ‘HCLINTON’ also sums to 666 using your system.

    I couldn’t get any version of Donald Trump’s name to work, which of course suggests that he must not be using his real name…

  16. You can do “Rafael Cruz” using a slightly different system. (A=6, B=12, C=18, etc.) (That one also works with “Kissinger”)