Saturday, October 20, 2012

How Al Gore Destroyed Climate Change Policy

Ezra Klein does an excellent job of logic chopping through David Brooks' op-ed on the political history of climate change policy in the US.  Brooks is not a climate change denier.  In fact, he claims that he is in favor of a carbon tax.  His op-ed, however, is one of the reasons why climate change is off of this year's debate agenda.  Brooks argues that there was bi-partisan support for climate change policy before Al Gore produced his documentary on the topic.  The documentary certainly made the public more aware of the problem, and that caused both parties to advocate solutions to the problem.  Republicans, however, hate Al Gore.  Therefore, his documentary undermined bi-partisan support for climate change policy.

This is a typical David Brooks op-ed, and that is one of our big problems.  Since he favors a carbon tax and is not global warming denier, his objectivity on the subject is certified.  His objectivity is also established by blaming both parties for abandoning climate change policies.  Therefore, one should accept his conclusion that both political parties are at fault. This is another form of denial that is too common among journalists. It obscures what really happened to shift the debate away from climate change policy. Energy companies did whatever they could to undermine support for the science behind climate change. They spent millions on  advertising, and they funded "studies" which questioned the science. They even ran ads which demonstrated that they are working hard to find solutions. Of course, they also purchased the services of Republican's who quickly shifted from support to opposition.  That probably had a much bigger impact on their behavior than Al Gore's documentary.  David Brooks, however, prefers the story that he made up. That is is his job.  He rewrites history to provide objective and "bi-partisan" support for his favorite political party. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are responsible for educating the less educated about political issues.  David Brooks belongs to the group that is responsible for misinforming the better educated class.

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