The “contrived phony mess that is falling apart” that won’t go away

I had the honor of a brief conversation with Jeff Masters last night. As I anticipated the admiration was non-mutual. He’s not a close follower of the climoblogosphere and had not heard of me. But I had the chance to ask him if really thought the weather was “going haywire”; I specifically used that informal old midwesternism. He said that he had seen nothing before to compare with the anomalous weather patterns of the past two years. I doubt there is a much closer observer of the day-to-day meanderings of the atmosphere than Jeff Masters.

But there is no formal definition of “haywire”; all we can say is that this parameter or that one is outside natural variability, or isn’t, or is indeterminate. Certainly we are no longer seeing an undisturbed climate, and certainly much bigger things are to come.

Meanwhile, the Republican party has been claimed, for present purposes, by the lunatic fringe of the climate world, led in large measure by the more toxic climate blogs. The consequences are nicely summarized in an article on The National Journal. It’s longish and worthwhile. The most memorable of several memorable bits, for me, was this:

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, says there’s no question that the influence of his group and others like it has been instrumental in the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science. “If you look at where the situation was three years ago and where it is today, there’s been a dramatic turnaround. Most of these candidates have figured out that the science has become political,” he said. “We’ve made great headway. What it means for candidates on the Republican side is, if you … buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril. The vast majority of people who are involved in the [Republican] nominating process—the conventions and the primaries—are suspect of the science. And that’s our influence. Groups like Americans for Prosperity have done it.”

Unfortunately, most people haven’t yet understood the rule yet. Science comes first, discomfort sometimes follows, and politicization arises from well-funded circles who are inconvenienced.

The scientific community does not have the capacity to run this backwards. And that is why the “contrived phony messes” don’t go away. The contrivance and the backlash and the politicization are all of a piece, all parts of the same thing. Your best bet is to go back a year or two before the controversy and see what the science said then.

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