What's Worse Than a Climate Denier?
Unlike the ravers on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post, the op-ed stable at The New York Times is intellectually honest enough to refrain from climate-change denial. The more subtle approach, however, is arguably even worse: i.e., ignoring the subject altogether.
That's the tack taken today by regular op-ed columnist Joe Nocera in The Poisoned Politics of Keystone XL. In Nocera's view, the source of that "poison" is--guess who?--environmentalists!
I realize that President Obama rejected Keystone because, politically, he had no choice. My guess is that, in his centrist heart of hearts, the president wanted to approve it. But to give the go-ahead before the election was to risk losing the support of the environmentalists who make up an important part of his base.
Why environmentalists are so adamant about Keystone, Nocera never quite mentions. The project, he assures us, "is hardly the environmental disaster many suppose." He quotes Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune--"The effort to stop Keystone is part of a broader effort to stop the expansion of the tar sands. It is based on choking off the ability to find markets for tar sands oil.”--but again dimisses him without argument: "This is a ludicrous goal. If it were to succeed, it would be deeply damaging to the national interest of both Canada and the United States."
Nocera's argument that can only be made by completely ignoring the scientific consensus that global climate change is a fast approaching catastrophe, which the development of dirty oil substitues like Canada's tar sands will only exacerbate. Ignoring climate change is no more intellectually responsible than denying it.
--Image Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times