My Facebook status from Sept. 22, 2013 was a little sarcastic. A bit.
“I am not convinced that a diet rich in fried foods, sugary baked goods and soda, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, will lead to weight gain and health problems. I believe that until such things have been proved by industry experts, not just “academics,” there is no reason to take action. Any changes in my body that may occur are likely just natural fluctuations or perhaps things that were going to happen anyway. Besides, parts of me — such as my hair — may get thinner. So even if my body changes, some areas will be better. And the academics are all warning us about diet and exercise for their own profit. The industry research is much more trustworthy. So why inhibit the growth of these industries and parts of my body when we really don’t know anything?”
Hopefully, you get the point. We’re in denial. We see how science starts with a hypothesis and adjusts as more data come in, and we translate that to “they don’t know anything,” using that as an excuse to ignore the conclusions even as they get stronger.
We’ve been in denial about climate change for generations. Humankind’s role in global warming is controversial — except among those who actually study climate. Even big businesses like automakers are going greener while the government harrumphs and laughs at scientists. When Ford unleashes an electric pickup truck, you know times have changed.
And we’ve been in denial about COVID-19. Donald Trump, who reorganized (to use a polite euphemism at the behest of picayune fact-checkers) the country’s pandemic preparedness team, spread false information on everything from miracle cures to how seriously the virus can affect its unwilling hosts. CDC guidance was published against scientists’ objections. At the local level, presenting the facts on how to deal with COVID can cost you your job as a health officer. In my home state of Virginia, a Republican governor — not even one who embraces Trump — fought to tell local school districts and their health officials whether they could have mask mandates.
Trump also rolled back a lot of environmental regulations, even though there’s considerable evidence that such regulation can succeed. Case in point: the ozone layer. Or the Mississippi River. (If you like, I’ll dig up a paper from grad school about cleaning up another river. No? You sure? OK.)
But what can you expect from people who treat everything they don’t understand as something created by a demonic sorcerer?
Hence my Facebook message from four days later: “Off to do some yoga before it’s banned in Virginia as witchcraft.”
I’m not sure I was kidding.
- Updated occasionally, Skeptical Science: Global Warming & Climate Change Myths
- January 2022, The Conversation: Offshore wind farms could help capture carbon from air and store it long-term – using energy that would otherwise go to waste
- November 2020, The Atlantic: All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus
- September 2019, The Conversation: Market-based policies work to fight climate change, from India to Jamaica
- August 2019, Newsweek: U.S. Media Gives Way Too Much Air Time to Climate Change Deniers Who Don’t Know What They’re Talking About, Study Finds
- August 2019, The Guardian: ‘Coal is over’: the miners rooting for the Green New Deal
- July 2019, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: Long-Term Macroeconomic Effects of Climate Change: A Cross-Country Analysis
- April 2019, Willard MacDonald: It’s Easy to be Tricked by a Climate Denier
- September 2015, Politico: Rush Limbaugh pans evidence of water on Mars as part of ‘leftist agenda’
- What we’re doing wrong
- EPA’s proposed ‘secret science’ rule directly threatens children’s health
- ‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession | Environment | The Guardian
- President Donald Trump Imposes 30% Tariffs on Solar Panels | Time
- EPA to allow use of pesticide considered ‘very highly toxic’ to bees – The Washington Post
- If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer | Isabella Tree | Opinion | The Guardian
- Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder – Bloomberg
Thank you, Blondie. And what’s left of government oversight.
Ocean cleanup system working.
- ‘Coal is over’: the miners rooting for the Green New Deal | Environment | The Guardian
- To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for Nature
- Democrats are reaching farmers with an exciting message: green agriculture | Art Cullen | Opinion | The Guardian
“You wouldn’t know it by the non-stop coverage of the percentage fractions separating the leading Democratic campaigns, or whether Sanders insulted Warren, or how Senator Susan Collins equivocated again after lunch. But, as the Amazon shrinks, our quiet revolution in agriculture policy might be the most important story of the news cycle.”