Minority Liberal Ideology Drives Majority Climate Science

Richard Lindzen, MIT emeritus professor of atmospheric science, Willie Soon of Harvard’s Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, John Christy of the University of Alabama, and other honest, objective scientists must be doing something right if their legitimate challenges to "settled" climate science are under such fierce attack by bellicose liberal politicians. Not only are the Natural Resource Committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Raul Grijalva, and some like-minded colleagues hounding these heretics, but so are the president and his Environmental Protection Agency.  High honor indeed.

Apparently, an ideologically-fueled cohort is driven to wreck some of the most outspoken, qualified challengers to the belief that lowly people are highly responsible for long-term climate catastrophe. Make no mistake, this belief -- and considering the prophetic aspects of the anthropogenic climate change claim, it is a belief -- is largely propagated by a liberal (that is, left-leaning or progressive) mindset.

Yet, the latest Gallup poll concluded that conservatives “continued to outnumber moderates and liberals in the U.S. population in 2014, as they have since 2009.” In fact, from the early 90s, when Gallup polling on this self-identified political ideology comparison began, the percentage of conservatives and moderates was typically about double that of liberals. And, although the liberal percentage has been creeping up over the years to its highest on record at 24 percent last year, conservatives and moderates combined still command a sizable majority of the ideology of the U.S. population.

Consider that the control of ideas, especially in key areas such as journalism, entertainment, education, and even to a substantial degree, science, is solidly in the liberal camp.

Take education and the field of environmental science for example.

From grade school through graduate school, practically all students are subjected to purely liberal bias on environmental topics. Whether the subject realm is in the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, or lithosphere, the challenges to the natural world and their solutions are confined within the liberal framework. Free-market environmentalism, wise-use movement, or other conservative or even libertarian approaches are regularly distained or completely ignored.

It’s not surprising then that educated people graduate with an inculcated liberal bias relative to environmental issues. This bias is reinforced beyond the campus by most media reporters, who are themselves disciples of the education establishment.

The field perhaps most regrettably saturated with liberal groupthink is the field of science itself. This situation is bad enough alone, but with the support of liberal journalism and academia, the problem is expanded by an order of magnitude.

Foregone conclusions, such as humans are largely responsible for long-term, global climate change, are readily accepted. The disincentive to disagree with this conclusion is terrific. And, with incentive from the White House’s climate change action plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, and boatloads of federal funding, it’s hard not to become part of the campus get-along gang.

In addition, there is a strong incentive from peer pressure.

The current issue of National Geographic magazine unintentionally states it well with their cover story on “The War on Science.”  In the related article by Washington Post science writer Joel Achenbach, Joel states that science “appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers.” He goes on to quote the current editor of Science journal, geophysicist Marcia McNutt, as saying, “We’re all in high school.  We’ve never left high school.  …People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science.  And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.” Marcia certainly did not intend this quote to apply to scientists themselves, but why not?

Academic scientists, especially, are in an echo chamber; and, if they went from high school to undergraduate then to graduate school, who’s to say they “never left high school” with respect to group pressure and thinking?

So, for instance, when actual climate data for more than a decade and a half belies government and academy predictions of global warming, unbiased scientists would start looking around for a new or substantially revised hypothesis on climate change. Scientists saturated with a liberal viewpoint would continue to ardently defend a patently disproven one.

As it becomes more apparent that long-term global climate is resilient to human activity, we can hope that  conservative influence on the highway of ideas will become fast tracked.  If not, at least the conservative and moderate majority should be driving more of the discussion. And, aggressive liberals, including those at the highest levels of government, need to more seriously consider the majority perspectives that just may help solve some of the most unyielding environmental and societal challenges now and down the road.

Anthony J. Sadar is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic’s Guide to Climate Science (Telescope Books).

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