GUEST POST – Normalized Ignorance and Global Warming: It’s Time to Vote

by David R. Montague

Mr. Montague was raised in Billings, where he wrote a column for the Gazette for 6 years. He’s the author of two books and has written for Northern Lights Magazine which gave many now-famous writers a start, including Mark Spragg, William deBuys and Terry Tempest Williams.  He is now retired and lives in Potomac near Missoula with his wife.

In an essay about what he calls “normalized ignorance,” Professor Henry Giroux observes that “successful political campaigns are now dependent on an uninformed public.”
How accurate is his observation when it comes to the issue of climate change?Alarmingly accurate. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that only 48% of Americans accept the conclusion that global warming is caused by human activity and that it poses an immanent existential threat, a consensus reached by 99+% of scientists who are not paid to ‘think’ otherwise by fossil fuel developers such as Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobile, and Chevron-Texaco.

85% of conservative Republicans and 30% of liberal Democrats express doubt or outright denial of the reality of anthropocentric climate change. Is this an example of “normalized ignorance?”

I would have to say ‘yes.’

Global warming is the most dangerous issue that has faced homo sapiens in the 200,000 years we have flourished, and one of the most dangerous to face all life on the planet. Our planet is approximately 4.55 billion hears old, and life began to take hold somewhere between 3.5 and 4 billion years ago. The planet has endured many catastrophes and at least 5 major extinctions which obliterated most life forms. In the long run, all life is precarious. 99.9% of all species that have ever inhabited earth are now extinct. The chance that humanity will in time become just another fossil memory seems probable. Does that mean that we should not rally all our resources in the battle to survive and prosper? Or worse that we should bury our heads in the sand to hasten our own decline?

Global warming is an emergency. Given present conditions on earth, one sixth of all species face the probability of extinction, and as many as 90% of all species could face massive reductions or extinction if global warming continues unabated. That includes homo sapiens. A majority of scientists agree that we have already begun the sixth ‘great extinction’ in the planet’s history. The principal cause of global warming is the massive release of greenhouse gasses, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, from the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline, natural gas and coal, and from mass animal agriculture.

The buildup of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere traps the sun’s heat and warms the planet hotter than livable norms. CO2 trapped in oceans makes them too acidic. As a result coral reefs are bleaching and dying and fish and shellfish populations are shrinking. Glaciers all over the world and ice fields in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Greenland are melting rapidly. During the next half century, many rivers, which people and whole ecosystems depend on, will shrink to seasonal channels or dry up, and ocean levels will rise significantly. In some areas rains will become torrential, in other areas fires will burn as never before. People who live on atolls and coastal communities will find themselves under water. Many birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and plants are already stressed, trying to adapt or find new suitable habitat and they are losing ground rapidly. As the effects of global warming intensify, droughts will dominate some areas and excessive heat will render some regions non-arable and completely uninhabitable. Storms more violent than any we have known will sweep the planet.

Masses of people will leave uninhabitable places and attempt to migrate elsewhere. The resulting ethnic, racial, tribal and national tensions will cause widespread conflicts and massive bloodshed. Some economies will fail, and some food supplies will shrink, even as earth’s population multiplies. Many populations will go hungry and some will starve. A broad spectrum of diseases will arise and spread, many to places where they were previously unknown. Most of humanity will know no peace, no quiet, no leisure, and little pleasure. Some extinctions will take place; many more will loom.

We must rally to fight global warming as individuals, as a nation, and as a species. For starters, I urge everyone to express contempt for scientific ignorance by voting against any candidate who expresses his or her disbelief in global warming; candidates like Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Greg Gianforte, Ryan Zinke, and Steve Daines; Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, Shelley Moore Capito, Bill Cassidy, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, James Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Jeff Sessions, Dan Sullivan, David Vitter, and dozens more. Politicians who gain and use power appealing to this kind of ignorance will inadvertently be destructive and will be remembered, if there is anyone left to remember them, as over-confident and comfortable careerists who failed to engage their gray matter when it was most needed to prevent the disintegration of the planet, the decay of civilization, and the collapse of humanity into deprivation, chaos, and possible oblivion. Am I complaining too harshly?

Would anyone forgive a messenger who could have warned but didn’t the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 A.D. that Vesuvius was about to erupt? Would anyone forgive an observer who failed to report waves of dive bombers approaching Pearl Harbor in 1941?

Keep deniers out of office or vote them out if they are already in. I’m sure they don’t mean to be, but in fact they are traitors and potential assassins to their own species, to their planet and to all its life forms. And despite what their spin doctors and PR professionals say, these people are utterly unqualified to lead. Elect people who know how to use their minds, who have the honesty to actually do so, and who will help mobilize humanity to combat the gravest challenge we have ever faced. Our quality of life, possibly even our survival, will depend on it.

 

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35 Comments on "GUEST POST – Normalized Ignorance and Global Warming: It’s Time to Vote"

  1. Climate warming is BS
    A volcano produces more carbon than man has produced since the beginning of his time on earth. I will put my trust in God and
    Joe it’s up to Him!! Not some dumass commie democrat.

    • You can put your trust in God, Dog or the man with the star.

      But you are wrong about Volcanoes and climate change.

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earthtalks-volcanoes-or-humans/

    • Alen, You have been brainwashed and programmed to become a corporate shill, the millions and millions spent by big oil to misinform, muddy the waters and cast doubt has done it’s work on you. “Climate warming is BS”!? Tell that to Exxon’s top climate researcher and senior company scientist James F. Black. In 1977 Black told top executives “The most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” In 1978 Exxon found that climate change was real and man made after launching its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth. Exxon’s ambitious program included both empirical CO2 sampling and rigorous climate modeling. Exxon found that “a doubling of the carbon dioxide blanket in the atmosphere would produce average global warming of 3 degrees Celsius, plus or minus 1.5 degrees C (equal to 5 degrees Fahrenheit plus or minus 1.7 degrees F”.) By the 1980s, fearing possible loss of easy profits Exxon ended its carbon dioxide research and worked instead at the forefront of climate denial. It put multi-millions behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had confirmed. Exxon lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect the misinformation that stands to this day. This has all been confirmed by reports attached to Congressional hearing transcripts and several leaked internal documents. (Also, your use of McCarthyism and red-baiting lets us all know what kind of person you are….you have no sense of decency, those who red-bait have always proved to be on the wrong side of history and GOD.) I’ll pray for your sick, angry, little dark soul.

  2. And 98% of his “99%” of “scientists who are not paid to ‘think’ otherwise by fossil fuel developers such as Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobile, and Chevron-Texaco.” have nothing to do with climatology in their fields of work. We all know that if you can have the right people make up the right questions, you will get the answer you want from the majority of people.

  3. Thanks for your post Mr. Montague. Just like with global warming, there is a group of people who will refuse to accept that Trump candidate lost this November. That there was some kind of conspiracy, instead of the obvious rejection by Americans of Trump and everything he stands for. This is not just incredibly stupid, its dangerous.

  4. When one of the most conservative government agencies, DOD, is concerned about global warming they must have some good reasons. See http://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/612710 for the many reasons why they see global warming as a threat to national security.

  5. One thing I have noticed over the years is that when anyone disagrees with me, it’s obviously because they are stupid, ignorant or evil (or some combination of these). Of course, this implies that I am smart, well-educated and good (as well as charming and handsome) and there certainly can be no dispute about that, can there?

    Unfortunately, telling those who disagree with me that they are stupid, ignorant or evil does not seem to change their minds in the least. Indeed, far from admitting their deficiencies, they will often resist my persuasion even more. I have also found that speaking loudly to these people does not help and may cause them to shout back.

    I have friends who have suggested to me that, if I really believe it important to convince others of, say, climate change and its dangers, I should try to find out why they disbelieve or doubt what I believe and engage them in a dialogue about these beliefs and doubts. I must admit to some surprise about this suggestion because I had not realized before how ignorant, stupid or evil my so-called friends were.

    One of them even had the temerity to suggest that if I were talking to a skeptic with Christian or Jewish beliefs, I should bring up the Flood and that we should respond positively to these challenges, not ignore them. How dumb can anyone be? I mean it’s far more important that I be right than we all get together and do something, right?

    OK, fun’s fun and the satire is at an end. You did realize that this was satire, didn’t you? How sad. Nevertheless, yes, it is frustrating when someone doesn’t with me and reciting what convinced me fails to convince them. And it’s really easy to vent my frustration than try to find out why they believe what they do. But, as a poet once observed, if the world is a pile of [dung] and you want to move it, you are going to move it handful by handful.

  6. Perhaps Mr. Zinke sees no danger with no GMO ingredient labels ALLOWED?
    Sees no danger with more mercury in Montana fish from another extension of the Royalty ripoff he supported?
    Perhaps our Representative saw no danger inviting an insurrectionist to have dinner in his East Coast Home?
    Saw no danger in having a public Fund Raiser at his West Coast Home?
    Saw no danger in running an out of State financed campaign where Montana newsprint journalism was not allowed(until at end time) to connect the big dots on the record of our current Representative?

    • imo it’s more climate DENIALISM. Part of a pattern of people exhibiting their DENIALISM. Of which our Rep is a many facted example. Sorry for sidetrack, back to global warming.

  7. It’s your call, shut down more (Billings is gone) Montana Coal Generation Plants (Coalstrip) and ship the coal to China along with the iron ore for steel. Also, this drives up our utilities rates. Will that shut down more mining interests, and drive off more potential new businesses.

    And Juneau with her experience will be about as functional in the Senate as a pogo stick in quicksand.

    • Bill, you need to get your spelling corrected and perhaps consider one important fact: that Juneau is running for the lone congressional seat in the House and not the Senate as Tester and Daines hold those two seats.

    • Chinese steel that gets used in T rump’s last building.

  8. One of the best global warming reads of the month, imo.
    Good enough to share with some uninformed skeptics.
    The big numbers are in.
    http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/2/climate_skeptic_koch_funded_scientist_richard

  9. Global Warming is false flag, Trojan horse, shell game dreamed up by the world corporate masters to accomplish two major goals.

    1. To extort money from every manner of industry – from toaster makers to chainsaw makers – by implementing a carbon credit tax.

    2. To further subjugate the world to a centralized government of elites.

    Whether you believe or don’t believe in global warming, the above two goals will affect you every way to Sunday; by raising prices of everything you consume in life – from your chainsaw to the quad you drive to your cabin retreat to your fishing gear made in a carbon compliant factory.

    Climate change pushers don’t give a damn about the climate any more than Dr. Barth’s Sensational Snake Oil cured every ailment known to man. It’s all about the money, people. All about the money.

    History shows

    • History shows that what happened to Soviet Communism before the 60’s was when a “new class” of one party politicians destroyed the notion of a worker influenced state, to make themselves and the industialist oligarchs extremely wealthy. That set the stage for oil and gas oligarchs.

      Follow your Boots and be like “Bill” and post your fraudulent metaphors elsewhere.

      Much more importantly, for those desiring to get more informed about global warming forces and issues, please consider.
      (1.) The USA Congress and the Montana Legislature have heavy handidly subsidized fossil fuel extractors(FFE), favored FFE Investors with Tax priviliges, while underegulating mercury, and greenhouse gas emissions impacting many of us here and now.
      (2.) If there’s to be a carbon tax, the proceeds go to we the people.

    • The Northwest Passage that remained closed for hundreds of years while explorers died trying to find a shortcut from Europe to Asia is now open. You can now ride a cruise ship through it, China plans to start shipping freight through the Northwest Passage next summer. Go take a ride, educate yourself.

  10. Of the presidential candidates running this year, only Jill Stein has the right position on climate change. The others, including Clinton, support fracking.

  11. This really shouldn’t be a partisan issue. The costs insurance corporations are facing is going to start swinging more GOP legislators to reality-based thinking in my opinion. This isn’t an abortion or War on Xmas issue that can be milked for votes for years with nebulous language and stalling, climate change is biting us in the ass in several ways and just ignoring it is no longer an issue.

  12. Bob Williams wrote:

    (1.) The USA Congress and the Montana Legislature have heavy handidly subsidized fossil fuel extractors(FFE), favored FFE Investors with Tax priviliges, while underegulating mercury, and greenhouse gas emissions impacting many of us here and now.

    Tell us, Mr. Williams, exactly HOW have gas emissions “impacted” you “here and now”. Has so called global warming prevented you from:
    Working?
    Driving?
    Breathing?
    Posting anything you want on the ‘net?
    Owning firearms?
    Owning a 30 round magazine?
    Refusing to bake cakes or arrange flowers for sexual deviants?
    Criticizing the government without being called an “extremist”?
    Protesting on the steps of the US Supreme Court?
    Home schooling your kids without being considered an “extremist”?

    The first 3 are still free. The others are rights that left leaning commie-democrats in government have unconstitutionally restricted. It seems a leftist, progressive, Democrat-Communist ideology is more dangerous to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than the manufactured ‘crisis’ of ‘global warming’.

    (2.) If there’s to be a carbon tax, the proceeds go to we the people.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! What a great sense of humor. Just like George Carlin!

  13. boB Petersen wrote:

    “climate change is biting us in the ass in several ways”

    Mr. Petersen, are you able to cite examples and provide supporting evidence of the “several ways climate change is biting us in the ass”?

  14. There definitely are signs of climate change and global warming. And most scientists agree that human activity is a major contributor. Obviously those corporations that are a cause of this situation will be in denial. And to speculate that climate change is a hoax to gain more money for the corporate masters is another conspiracy theory with no basis in fact. But definitely there are a number of Americans that simply do no critical thinking. The Trump candidacy is proof of that.

  15. Are Boots and Bill for real? I actually believed they were two right wing but jobs who have spent their lives wallowing in hate, fear, and ignorance. But the most recent comments by The IllumiNOTed Ones have led me stunned and to the conclusion that these characters can’t be real their existence devised only for entertainment because how could their nonsensical ramblings be taken seriously? Cowgirl, is this a joke?

  16. What’s at Stake

    Global warming is already having significant and harmful effects on our communities, our health, and our climate. Sea level rise is accelerating. The number of large wildfires is growing. Dangerous heat waves are becoming more common. Extreme storm events are increasing in many areas. More severe droughts are occurring in others.

    Global warming is happening now. The planet’s temperature is rising. The trend is clear and unmistakable.

    Every one of the past 38 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. The hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States occurred in 2012.

    Globally, the average surface temperature has increased more than one degree Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. Most of that increase has occurred over just the past three decades.

    We are the cause. We are overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which traps heat and steadily drives up the planet’s temperature. Where does all this carbon come from? The fossil fuels we burn for energy—coal, natural gas, and oil—plus the loss of forests due to deforestation, especially in the tropics.

    The scientific evidence is clear. Within the scientific community, there is no debate. An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause.

    Global warming is already having significant and costly effects – and these consequences will only intensify as the planet’s temperature continues to rise.

    Accelerating Sea Level Rise Global warming is accelerating the rate of sea level rise and dramatically increasing coastal flooding risks, especially on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

    Longer and More Damaging Wildfire Seasons Wildfires are increasing and wildfire season is getting longer in the Western U.S. as temperatures rise.

    More Frequent and Intense Heat Waves Dangerously hot weather is already occurring more frequently than it did 60 years ago.

    Costly and Growing Health Impacts Climate change has significant implications for our health, including increased air pollution and a longer and more intense allergy season.

    Heavier Precipitation and Flooding As temperatures increase, more rain falls during the heaviest downpours, increasing the risk of flooding events.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/global-warming/science-and-impacts/global-warming-impacts#.WAO4dfkrLmE

    People who dont believe this are usually Conservatives. They are also woefully not aware of how dumb they are.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/02/the-dunning-kruger-effect-are-the-stupid-too-stupid-to-realize-theyre-stupid/

    • Very well summarized Norma. Climate change and evolution denial were the two topics that really propelled me out of my political stupor and into the partisan rabbit hole. The social issues were a no brained and I gave the neocons a break in the event they were raised by Stephen King’s Carrie’s mother, but science, the very rock they stand on when they take their meds or have life saving surgery? Come on give me a break. I don’t want a leader who can’t even believe in the principles that explain how are very feet stay on the ground!

  17. The favored, incentivised, subsidized fossil fuel polluters played DJT for the fool he is, because he was certain to diminish the power of HRC after the money=speach selection General Election.
    Soon comes more of their long term plan, in the House plan of prosperity for Republicans paid for by austerity forced upon Democrats, and us 40% independents.
    I find nil confidence that our current Representative would work, and stand and Vote to protect Montana and the people of Montana from impacts of fossil fuel polluters domestic, and foreign, operating amid USA land and waterways.

  18. My fellow Montanans seem to like their “denier” politicians. Thrump is polling 10 points ahead of Hillary in the state and Zinke is +13%.

      • It didn’t make the top 10 because people have been fooled into believing it is a non issue! It is not relevant to them because they have not experienced the consequences of the event in the past like the other fears listed. Psychology 101. If you are having a problem understanding this basic principle: Do you fear having to have a hysterectomy which eventually leaves your body in an unbalanced hormonal state with long term side effects debilitating to your health. No you probably don’t fear that event because you are a male and it is impossible that this disaster would befall you. Yet, this condition exists and affects a portion of the population. Human contribution to detrimental climate change exists as sure as a uterus is part of the female anatomy, both which have been proven by science. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean its not there. I learned that in kindergarten.

        effects

  19. The Energy Companies engaged in oil and natural gas production – routinely inject Natural Gas into a geological formation in order to increase partial pressure in the formation with the hope of increasing well production. Ryan Zinke and Steve Daines introduced legislation “CO2 Regulatory Certainty Act of 2016”. This new law forces the Internal Revenue Service to revise language in their 45Q tax credit (language which provides a tax incentive for the industry if they engage in sequestration of carbon – preventing the carbon from entering the atmosphere. The purpose of the tax credit (prior to Zinke/Daines law)… was to provide incentive for companies to prevent the release of carbon into the atmosphere. My question: If the industry fully intends to inject the gas anyway, why would they get a tax credit? Perhaps the industry would NOT inject the gas if the tax credit did not exist? Really? I suspect they would use the gas anyway, because its the cheapest source (the only practical source) for their purposes. The Daines/Zinke law says: “for purposes of paragraph (2)(C) of subsection (a), carbon dioxide shall be considered disposed of in secure geological storage if such carbon dioxide is stored in compliance with rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency which are applicable to carbon dioxide used as a tertiary injectant in a qualified enhanced oil or natural gas recovery project… etc.” I suspect this is a giveaway, depriving the federal government of revenue once again, and putting that revenue into private hands…, and I believe this law has nothing to do with protecting the atmosphere… because the gas would have been used for this purpose anyway. Am I right? Or am I a conservative-progressive troublemaker? Or both? Laws like this are why I will not vote for Zinke or Daines… even if Ryan Zinke is an (honest) patriot.

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