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2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #20

Posted on 19 May 2024 by BaerbelW, Doug Bostrom, John Hartz

A listing of 34 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, May 12, 2024 thru Sat, May 18, 2024.

Story of the weekDeSantis

“The legislation I signed today [will] keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state." — Ron DeSantis, conflating geopolitics and consumer choices with anthropogenic climate change.

Thanks to it being about fake skepticism, our story of the week concerns Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his efforts aided by the Florida state legislature to purge Florida's government of the entire concept of human-caused climate change and the inevitable public policy replies dictated by our clumsy, too-rapid disruption of Earth's more typical climate dithering. Coverage includes:

Governor DeSantis joins a small cadre of other elite, empowered cranks who've walked broadly similar paths. Picking on the most notorious person previously afforded the opportunity to attempt conjuring reality out of existence at the highest levels of access, we may ask a question. Who leaves a more lasting impact on our planet by confusing political ideology with scientific knowledge, Joseph Stalin's protege Trofim Lysenko, or Ron DeSantis? The two share a flaw— dictating politically acceptable understanding of matters connected to science even when doing so requires science denial— but whose impact endures the longest? 

By commingling political ideology with science, Lysenko caused acutely disastrous effects on agriculture in his country. However, Lysenko's drastic sway over the USSR's scientific community was fairly narrowly confined in both scope and time. After his ascent to prominence in the 1930s, Lysenko's star was rapidly fading a mere 30 years later. Mass starvation thanks to pseudoscientific practices and liquidations of "wrong-thinking" Mendelian geneticists quietly ended and now appear as relatively small features of the USSR's huge history. Lysenko's longest shadow ended up cast on scientific progress never realized thanks to his critics in academia having a tendency to end up dead or imprisoned. 

Rather than erupting from the scientific establishment as with Lysenko, Governor DeSantis emerged from the world of law and he's also playing a role less directly and immediately lethal to residents of Florida and scientists practicing there. But to the extent that it is successful, DeSantis' legislative accomplishment is similar to Lysenko's. It prohibits fully truthful and useful discussion and acknowledgement of climate science in public policy. To ban the term "climate change" in law and policy is fundamentally a denial of the existence of useful scientific knowledge. As with Lysenko's preposterous but mandatory omissions of true and useful understanding of plant genetics in the former USSR, this will have powerful ripple effects.

From a local perspective, Florida is unusually threatened by multiple aspects of climate change. It's safe to say that any friction applied to Florida's governmental response to these challenges will come at cost to residents of Florida. For instance, the state is already facing a dire insurance problem in connection with intensifying precipitation and rising sea level. It's fair to ask how DeSantis' theatrical stance addresses this conundrum. It truthfully can't, because the legislation's entire point is to avoid and prohibit mentioning "climate change." Meanwhile banned wind turbines, the cost of gas at the pump roughly tracking inflation over the years and Chinese communists hiding beneath our beds have nothing to do with Florida's property insurance problems, which are all about climate change. Governor DeSantis' proudly-signed HB 1645 is what a reasonable person might describe as functionally useless legislation in terms of helping Floridians deal with burgeoning real-world climate problems. 

We don't have the capacity to fully model the larger and longer effects of Florida's law attempting to deny the existence of some fairly basic physics. What we can say is that every procrastination over reducing our CO2 emissions will have a very long tail of effects and expense. The longer we delay modernizing our energy systems, the longer we'll see otherwise avoidable sea level rise, destructive meteorological effects, ecological failures— and needless suffering inflicted on people in Florida and far beyond. A single US state governor isn't determinative of the future of the planet, but much more than most of us such a person can exert more influence on our net outcome in dealing with the climate challenge we've created. By impeding Florida's climate mitigation public policy response, Governor DeSantis is casting a very long shadow on history— effects that with more perfect instrumentation we'd be able to measure— and seems to easily put Stalin's pet pseudoscientist Lysenko in the shade. 

Stories we promoted this week, by publication date:

Before May 12

May 12

May 13

May 14

May 15

May 16

May 17

May 18

If you happen upon high quality climate-science and/or climate-myth busting articles from reliable sources while surfing the web, please feel free to submit them via this Google form so that we may share them widely. Thanks!

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