An article by Wall Street Journal employee Pete du Pont, in which he argues that the public “could use an honest debate” on climate change, has just come out in the WSJ (where else?).
We cannot risk taking du Pont’s advice. What he forgets, or deliberately fails to tell his readers, is that debates take at least an hour. They can easily break the two-hour mark, depending on the format.
But we need to act on climate now.
Not in a couple of hours. Not next month. Not in an hour. Now.
Du Pont’s motivation, then, is clearly to stall for time. Seen in this light, the call for “debate” is almost understandable (if not forgivable). Hey: if you can’t deny it, delay it!
Look for such tactics to become increasingly central to the denialist MO this year as the science itself becomes less and less controversial. Remember, people who oppose science are, at bottom, neophobes with an irrational addiction to the status quo. And when change terrifies you you’ll do anything to slow it down—no matter how foolish you make yourself sound in the process. (This is why my New Year’s resolution was to say “science refusard” less and “climate retardard” more.) If the climate-change wars have proven anything it’s the visceral conservativeness, the blind fear of change, of the left half of the human bell curve.
Of course, my critique of du Pont’s desperate call for a debate doesn’t even take into account the considerable time it would take to find a venue and arrange security (hardly a trivial task when the topic is as “heated” as this one). But as if these flaws weren’t fatal enough, du Pont also ignores the problem of recruiting participants. Real climate scientists are notoriously reluctant to debate. Even if they agreed to do so—and as any scientist on earth will tell you, getting scientists to agree on anything is like herding cats—they would then need to select their opponents. It could easily take weeks of negotiations just to nominate three or four skeptics whose presence on the same stage wouldn’t offend the sensibilities, or tarnish the good name, of anyone on the Affirmative team.
And as climate scientists have been telling us since the late 80s, that’s time we simply don’t have.
When will we finally believe them?
Denialism equals delayalism equals debatalism, folks.