Imagine every single report ever about the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, from the 1960s when the surgeon general’s report came out up to the present day, beginning with the statement that “No single case of lung cancer can be definitively linked to smoking.”
Now imagine being inundated by op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and reports from Fox News on the link between cigarettes and heart disease saying that People got heart disease long before there were cigarettes. Heart disease rates are always changing. It’s just a natural variation. Imagine someone “adjusting” rates of emphysema for the increase in population at risk, levels of ozone (natural of course, not man-made), the growth of urban vs. rural population, and concluding that emphysema has actually declined since people started smoking. Imagine someone repeating again and again that laryngeal cancer is mainly due to changes in the output of the sun.
Imagine the surgeon general pointing out that there is a huge consensus among physicians and medical researchers that smoking exaggerates all those illnesses, but a public relations guy appears and says there’s no such consensus — it’s based on flawed reports, he says, it’s just a made-up hoax. Imagine a “petition” from a group calling themselves the “Institute of science and medicine” claiming that over 31,000 scientists have signed their petition endorsing their view that There is no convincing scientific evidence that smoking is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic health impact … and that …there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in smoking produce many beneficial effects …
Imagine hearings in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives disputing the health impacts of smoking. Imagine four U.S. Senators calling for an end to a smoking-education program, calling it “propaganda.” Imagine the chairman of the committee on space, science, and technology calling the scientific evidence a fraud. Imagine a congressman suggesting that increases in lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema are due to rocks and dirt filling up our lungs. Imagine the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania saying that one of the causes of lung cancer is … body heat from increased population.
Imagine the president of the United States tweeting that the smoking-disease link is just a hoax, a plot devised by the Chinese to make the American tobacco industry non-competitive.
If you can imagine that, then you know what the current political “climate” in the U.S.A. is like when it comes to the subject of man-made climate change.
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