Fortunately I didn’t (the magic words “reception to follow” might have had something to do with it), because Oreskes answered the question I’ve always wondered about: How can some of the country’s brightest minds continue to cast doubt on the existence of global warming?
It’s not that they don’t understand the science — one of the most famous, S. Fred Singer, is literally a rocket scientist (at NASA). And surprisingly, it’s not about money.
Instead, Oreskes showed how it’s about a belief in free-market fundamentalism. In other words, these doubters (Oreskes calls them Merchants of Doubt, or MOD) feel that the smallest step towards government regulation will lead to socialism, so if government can tell businesses to stop polluting, they will soon be telling them how to run every aspect of their business.
Interestingly, many of these same MOD previously worked for the tobacco industry, where they cast doubt on the effects of second-hand smoke — again, not because the science was bad, but because they worried about the government ultimately controlling our lives.
In this context, environmentalists are seen as watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside). George Will described them as green trees with red roots. Continue reading