Louisiana GOP Candidate for Congress Calls Climate Change “Greatest Deception in the History of Mankind”
Lenar Whitney is a Louisiana state representative running for Congress and has decided to ape less-than-one-term Governor Sarah Palin’s vocabulary for an ad in which she calls climate change a hoax. In a nearly five-minute video, Whitney talks about the “lamestream” media and says that global warming can be disproven (by “any 10 year-old) “with one of the simplest scientific devices known to man: a thermometer.”
Essentially, Whitney alleges that because the planet hasn’t warmed to the levels predicted by climate models, climate change itself must be all a lie. Why that is nonsense should be self-evident, but sadly it isn’t. Instead it underscores the rampant scientific ignorance of the general public and (some) of those who run for political office.
It’s true, that many scientists, according to The Economist, remain “baffled” to why since 1998 the rate of global warming (i.e. the actual “warming” of the globe, not climate change branding) has been slower than the preceding two decades. Although the emerging consensus is that this “warming plateau” is the result of the El Nino/La Nina cycle, it is a matter still under investigation.
Of course, Whitney then goes on to equate recent harsh winters as further evidence that climate change is a lie, ignoring that extreme weather events and temperatures (to include cold extremes) is what climate science predicted all along. One has to wonder if she (and those who think she “makes a good point”) even understands that “global temperature” is an average of a whole bunch of different temperatures across the planet. But to them since science doesn’t have all of the answers right now, they must be wrong about everything and God will take care of us, Amen.
The claim that Whitney makes in her video that is more compelling than her thermometer argument is that Arctic sea ice has “increased by 60 percent” and Antarctic temperatures are at record lows. This does not signify rebounding ice caps, but a statistics principle known as “regression against the mean.” As The Guardian puts it, “if an extreme value of a variable is observed [in this case, record low Arctic ice in 2012], the next measurement will generally be less extreme.”
Whitney and others like her see something they don’t understand and rather than asking questions they take it as an opportunity to be smug. One look at a graph representing either global temperature or amount of Arctic/Antarctic ice levels over a period of just 50 years (no time at all in planetary terms) shows a clear and drastic change, despite individual years’ highs or lows.
Understanding climate change requires the ability to think long-term about humanity, but people like Whitney can only think as far ahead as the next election.
Image via screengrab