Sometimes when New Times Editor Camillia Lanham is shredding letters to the editor that she's deemed too fallacious to print, I sneak a peak as they grind beneath my gears, mainly for giggles. It's dumbfounding how dumb people can be, like climate change deniers, who seem to have become emboldened in their ignorance by Dunce-in-Chief Donnie "Dumbass" Trump.
What seems particularly weird is how partisan climate change has become. We're all on the same planet here! It's not like the science is in question, and if you're thinking, "Yes, it is in question!" you're part of the problem.
Even weirder, deniers have taken to believing that the 95 percent agreement among climate scientists is evidence of their collusion! How do you argue that kind of logic? Would it be better if only 80 percent agreed?
One letter writer, Brad Wilcox, actually sent me a copy of his letter asking if I could help get it published since Cam "The Hammer" Lanham had deemed in unworthy.
"Fact is, if you're a climatologist and everything is all hunky-dory, you might be out of a job," Wilcox wrote. "Yes, there are huge payoffs for scientific conclusions and these mad-scientists are also 'killing it' with geo-engineering programs made to counter climate change," he claimed, going on about chemtrails. Hold on a sec while I fetch my tinfoil hat.
Some theorize that climate change is a way to weaken the U.S., but to what end? To corner the market on renewable energy? To charge more for fossil fuels? To allow Third World countries to "catch up" to developed nations?
"How is it possible to persuade Americans to quit consuming fuels that make their life so easy?" Wilcox asked. "Simple, make them think they're killing themselves every time they use it. That's right, you caused climate change and you should be ashamed of yourself! Time for your punishment, give up your constitutional rights and sign the Paris agreement."
If you can't agree there's a problem, how can you agree on approaches to solving it? It's easier to argue that nothing's happening, humans can't have so profound an effect on Earth's climate, and it's folly to think humans can do anything to change weather one way or another.
Some people have such distrust of liberals, government, and "elitist" scientists—and education in general (according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 58 percent of Republicans view higher education as a negative)—that cynicism has completely consumed them, rendering them incapable of facing "facts," which to them are nothing more than a "plot" by liberal elites to hurt "working Americans." Educated conservative leaders deny climate change for greedy, shortsighted capitalist reasons while peddling conspiracy theories to garner public support.
Remember the good old days when Republican President Richard Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Air Act? He also set aside $10 billion for a nationwide clean water program. Conservative hero Ronald Reagan signed the ozone-protecting Montreal Protocol. Were they in on the conspiracy? Some climate deniers argue that 1970s-era predictions about the future environment didn't come true, which proves it's a liberal plot, completely ignoring that Republican presidents enacted the very programs that kept the predictions from coming true!
Come on, deniers! Even Exxon finally caved to the truth! "The risk of climate change is real and the risk warrants action," the oil industry giant states on its website.
Down in Santa Barbara County, their Board of Supervisors voted to sign onto the "We Are Still In" campaign, which means they will continue to adhere to the Paris accord even though Climate-Denier-in-Chief Trump has pulled out. Can you imagine our conservative majority board members—John Peschong (who, remember, appointed now-deceased staunch climate change denier Dan Del Campo to the SLO County Planning Commission), Lynn Compton, and Debbie Arnold—agreeing to sign on? That's a big fat NOPE!
I can't fathom why otherwise reasonable people buy this conspiracy. Maybe emboldened by our own climate change denying columnist Al Fonzi, another letter writer, Peter Byrne, wrote in to call climate change a hoax.
"It never ceases to amaze me how little common sense is used in the debate on climate change," Byrne said like he was reading my mind ... about him! "The inconvenient truth is that man-made climate change is a politically contrived crisis in order to get votes and amass political power."
How's that working out? You've got a Republican president, Senate, and House of Representatives—almost all deniers. Where's our political power?
"Do fossil fuels add to the warming of the atmosphere?" Byrne asked. "Possibly yes, at least as much as pouring a glass of water into the ocean adds to rising sea levels."
Well, that's ostrich-like in its desire to hide from the reality most of us see around us. I, for one, am proud to live in a city that doesn't want to bury its head in the increasingly hot sand.
"We are committed to cutting carbon emissions to ward off the worst effects of global climate change," SLO City Major Heidi Harmon said. "The world cannot wait and neither will the city of San Luis Obispo."
Don't make a political hot potato out of scientific facts.
The Shredder is stocking up on sunscreen. Send ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.