Why is climate change partisan?

Why are hurricanes and eclipses unquestioned but global warming so debated?


Last May, millions of people worldwide attended one of the many satellite Marches for Science, including our own Assistant News Editor Ian Adler. The topic headlined our final editions of the semester, and, given recent happenings, the subject comes once again to the forefront of conversation.

Since that first outcry of scientists, the United States has experienced not one, not two, but three near-supernatural abnormalities: a solar eclipse, and two category four hurricanes, all within two months.

Strangely — or rather, strange only in the context of the current dialogue surrounding this topic — no one in mainstream media has called into question science’s reliability to predict these happenings. Instead, people drove across the country to get a cloudless view of the eclipse, watching safely through the recommended eclipse glasses or DIY viewers. Even the great climate change denier-in-chief took time out of his day to admire the eclipse (albeit without proper eye protection).  

Less than a month later, Texans and Floridians alike evacuated their homes in piled-high minivans in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Social media became flooded with recognitions of safety and calls for humanitarian support. News stations broadcasted maps and radars of the storm and encouraged evacuation. And with the exceptions of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, no one claimed the hurricanes devastating the southern states to be ‘fake news.’

Simply put, these events went unchallenged. No troup of anti-eclipsers protested the idea of letting children watch the eclipse, citing some obscure passage in the Bible or “research” from a Facebook blog about the harmful effects of exposure to solar eclipses on children as their excuse. No skeptics of the weatherman’s inconsistent predictions dared plant themselves in the hurricane’s path to champion the elitism of his education.

The denial of climate change science is no longer solely about scientific fact.

Where is that unanimous consensus in matters such as climate change? Or even in the movement to save our planet? The evidence supporting the theory that our climate is changing is not only overwhelming but widely supported by scientists in varying disciplines, departments and universities. Yet the topic is shrouded in doubt in the political realm, to the point it has become this administration’s boogeyman.

Certainly, science itself is not a solely political topic. As Dr. Richard Niesenbaum, Professor of Biology and Director of the Sustainability Studies program said to Adler, scientists are actually reluctant to take a political stance due to the objective nature of their work, as many other scientists would agree.

“It’s not a political agenda,” said Niesenbaum, “Science is what turned us from a primitive society into an advanced society. Science created the internet. All the things we depend on came from science, so when you have political leaders denying the credibility of science and denying science as truth and as fact, it’s crippling to the nation and to the world.”

In other words, the denial of climate change science is no longer solely about scientific fact, like the eclipse or the hurricanes — it is a monetary, partisan agenda. Scientific research is only convenient when it supports our own views, or is not politicized at all. We embrace the process when it does something cool, like the eclipse or northern lights, but the instant it causes problems for companies like big oil, or patrons to certain politician’s campaigns, suddenly it’s controversial. This inconsistency on the side of those in denial of science undermines their entire argument against it. To trust the process one day and to renounce it the next is simply blowing hot air. Our current legislators may be able to talk up a hurricane, but they won’t stand a chance against one. Science, not Silence.

The Muhlenberg Weekly's Editorial Board is comprised of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor(s) and Section Editors, one of whom writes the editorial. Material appearing without a byline represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board.


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