Monday, November 28, 2011

Climate change denial still runs strong in US

Kerry Sheridan in AFP: On the US political stage, skepticism and denial of climate change are as popular as ever, and experts say that world talks which opened Monday in Durban, South Africa are unlikely to turn the tide. But while a binding deal on harmful carbon output remains elusive by the world's second biggest polluter after China, some small signs of progress have emerged at the state and individual levels.

Last month, the most populous US state, California, approved rules for a carbon market that would start in 2013, with the goal of cutting emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Previous attempts to create a cap and trade system to stem pollution at the federal level have failed due to concerns it would cause skyrocketing energy costs, a particularly bruising prospect in an already wobbly economy.

Also in October, a prominent climate skeptic whose research was funded in part by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers' foundation announced he had found that mainstream projections of climate change were correct and unbiased.

"We confirm that over the last 50 years, temperature has risen 0.9 degrees Celsius, or 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the same number that the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says," physicist Richard Muller, director of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, told lawmakers.

Muller said he hoped other climate skeptics would agree with his work, but his newfound stance -- accepted by the vast majority of scientists -- remains rogue, particularly among Republicans seeking to replace President Barack Obama in 2012.

Standout Republican Jon Huntsman -- who ranks lowest in the polls -- may have summed up the differences best when he tweeted earlier this year: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."...

Caricature of Darwin's theory in the Punch almanac for 1882, published at the end of 1881 when Charles Darwin had recently published his last book, The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms.

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