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Sen Whitehouse Schools Sen Inhofe about Global Warming on the Senate Floor

Posted on 31 July 2014 by dana1981

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) throws down an epic schooling of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on global warming after Inhofe blocked a resolution from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) simply acknowledging that global warming exists and poses a threat to the interests of the United States.  Whitehouse makes several points that seem to originate from Skeptical Science, like The Escalator steps.  Well worth taking 7 minutes to watch - hat tip to Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy.

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Comments 1 to 13:

  1. Senator Whitehouse is the most eloquent and accurate Senator to speak on global warming.  Well done.

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  2. Landskov,

    I believe Whitehouse is one of many Senators who can eloquently present the case for action to change the damaging direction things have developed in.

    As he pointed out, the problem is those who are willing and able to eloquently present absolute nonsense that they hope will be believed.

    Another problem he didn`t mention was the tendency many voters have to want to beleive nonsense that supports or defends their desired pursuits of personal benefit. And climate change is not the only issue stirring up resentment for better understanding and dislike of those who develop and communicate that better understanding.

    There are many other developed profitable and popular activities we are learning are unacceptable. And each one has its fans who dislike learning how unacceptable their way of benefiting and enjoying life is.

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  3. You've done most excellent work here, and you should be proud, but you were not the only one to look and the oscillations on the temperature graph and ask why anyone thinks this latest one is the last one.  Although, the escalator analogy is the best I've seen; waves on the incoming tide is another good one, but not sure how many people relate as well to waves and tides.

    I particularly liked the 'alternate reality' phrase.  Had a chance to hear him speak once; he is a good motivator.  Not sure how he manages to put emotion and technical content into the same words.

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  4. One Planet,

    I think some people are inherently more resistant to change (conservatives) than others (liberals), and the idea of climate change slams into that wall hard.  Because, it represents change no matter what course we take.  Either we change our energy production, or we change how (if) we grow food.  In the face of this calamity of inevitable change, it is easy to sow seeds of happy thoughts that this is all not really a problem and/or attempting to mitigate the problem will make our situation worse.  

    I've seen one person argue both that it is too small problem to worry about and that it is too big a problem for us to do anything about, and I sat there wondering how his head did not explode.  I suspect that many conservatives really just don't want to see themselves as agents of change.

    For some, the reality is that mitigation will be disruptive, if you make your living from fossil fuels, yes, mitigating climate change will change how you live and make a living.  In the US, that is 7% of the GDP, and that is something we need to be realistic about ourselves.

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  5. There are videos where I like to start applauding ...

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  6. Well over a third or more of those serving in Congress don't even think CC is real.

    There is no way to to strategically address this issue intelligently if many in Congress itself don't even think it's real.  Just because the majority do doesn't mean that the best policies can even be discussed, bc much of the attention gets focused on a false debate.  When the real debate - range of threat level and most sensible response (<a href="">yeah, link because I think this is a good idea, and limits government intrusion and maximizes response</a>) - thus gets subverted and our entire response thus skewed. 

    The reason for such misperception in Congress (as well as in Australia) is because of misperception in the populace.  That comes from a wild and really focused array of dedicated climate change refutation websites, maybe some industry backed, but mainly really driven by self reinforcing belief. And dedication.

    On Wattsup, if one cites this (skepticalscience) site, one is immediately derided because this site is [lots of unfair negative stuff I won't repeat], which makes the phrase the pot calling the kettle black maybe the understated metaphor of the millenium.

    This creates public perception, and also the perception of our legislators in total, and shapes our world.

    I know it's easy to say Inofe has "heard the facts." And yes Whitehouse effectively presents things; but once one gets a hardened view, everything gets filtered through that view. It's like a religion on CC refutation (which of course, in order to self perpetuate the belief that it is really objective assessment driving this "sensible" "reasoned" view, then causes the labeling of all climate change concern and effective advocacy as "religion.")

    Inhofe likely has a natural bent to not want to acknowledge that we could radically afffect the earth long term, a natural fealty toward the right of business even over what harm it might do to our own interests, and maybe even over near basic rights of individuals, but mainly there is just an avalanche of misconstrued information, and misinformation, on this issue that is (mis) driving world perception (and that supports Inhofe's predisposed view.)  

    And it is mainly in the Internet/pseudo social media, which drives much of the world's perception today, and which is incredingly self selective and self reinforcing. 

    This has to be looked at as a major broader phenonenon on this issue.  Our national and international conversions — not talking about self selection on the blogosphere, even among far more accurate sites, etc — are being wildly affected, and the overall assessments we are making as a world, are exceedingly poor, as a result.

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  7. Apparently I don't know how to insert links on here. 


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  8. The escalator was first used by Sen Whitehouse on the Sanete floor in December 2012 also reported by SKS. So, it's been his debunking tool of choice for over 2 years now.

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  9. John Michael Carter wrote: "Well over a third or more of those serving in Congress don't even think CC is real."

    I'd say rather that they purport to not believe CC is real. I suspect that most of them know it is real, but they also know that it would be nearly impossible to get elected as a Republican if they acknowledged reality. Nearly every GOP politician who previously acknowledged the reality of AGW has reversed course as the disinformation campaign ratcheted up. As you note, the bigger issue is that GOP voters don't believe in CC... because all of the news media they follow insist that it is a fraud.

    The same problem loop exists on numerous issues. We have allowed 'facts' and 'reality' to become matters of 'opinion' and we are paying a steep price for it. The news media wouldn't do it if it didn't work, and it only works because people allow themselves to be lied to.

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  10. I'd say rather that they purport to not believe CC is real. I suspect that most of them know it is real, but they also know that it would be nearly impossible to get elected as a Republican if they acknowledged reality.

    This is a reasonable view, but I don't agree at all, and I think this is a big (if, obviously, inadvertent) part of the problem, along with misinformation itself.  There is an insularity in the world of self selected reinforcing misinformation on the issue. But the same sort of thing happens among those who "know" or think they know the "truer" facts on this issue (facts more in line with what most actual scientists — not ideologues - who study the issues are saying).

    That is, those who don't are liars, and politicians who dont, "really do know." And so the divide is even furthered, as those who dont know are relegated to not even having the ability, the right, to have a "different view" or be wrong, but just a bunch of dismissed deceivers.

    Which pushes their righteousness much futher, and only causes their heesls to dig in much further.

    I try to convince misinformers of their basic misconstruction of the issue, and it is like arguing with a stone wall. They "know better." I try to convince those, who do know better about the issue, that a lot of people really don't know better, and or are led by zealous belief and a confusing and often self selectively reinforcing world of misinformation out there and a lot of great rhetoric that has really discredited climate scientists, and it is still somewhat, sometimes, like arguing with a stone wall.

    Insularity all around, and the knowledge (or belief conflated as knowledge) that "I have" and the views "I have" are what everybody else has. So, as generalization anyway, for refuters, all non refuters have an agenda, and for non refuters, all refuters are liars, or purposefully deceiving.  

    Yeah, there are exceptions that actually do support those notions (particularly in the latter direction one would imagine, I don't see much of an agenda in the Climate Change direction, but the conspiracist mind has different imaginations), but they are the exception, not the rule, and they don't make the pattern. Unfortunately, once perceived that way, any hint of it only serves to reinforce the overall notion. 

    Maybe this is not the case here, and it is why I take the time to respond, as I hope this pattern changes.

    It needs to, to make any real progress on this issue, which, as the basic physics of the issue haven't really changed for a long time now,  is something we should have already been effectively addressing years ago. And still, essentially, as it greatly compounds, are not.  

    Here's a link. Fox ("News") is contributing greatly to this problem of misinformation as well, and is a big part of it. And along with the incredible reinforcing nature of rampant misinformation projected as "reasoned science" on the issue, is itself the real news story about how this issue is being covered. But again, a lot of people take Fox as a real news site, and it is nearly impossible not to be intensely misinformed on this issue if that is a main source. And, as the leading national news source in America, it is a pretty "main" source. 

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  11. The same problem loop exists on numerous issues. We have allowed 'facts' and 'reality' to become matters of 'opinion' and we are paying a steep price for it. The news media wouldn't do it if it didn't work,


    In general I agree with you, and some of the politicians probably have or had conflicting opinions, pushed one way, then another, and want to lean that way anyway, etc..  

    There is no Fourth Estate anymore, and now popularity has become the arbiter of truth. Which I know is popular to think works, but I don't think it does. It goes to the most aptly expressed rhetoric, so almost anything can be alleged, and those who frame, win. A minority is framing both sides of this issue and creating a lot of doubt in their own minds (where it is reinforced) and the public, whereas the level of misinformation and the illogic (or basic misunderstanding of the issue) of the most basic of refuter arguments, if anything, further augments the case for CC. But it's not been effectively shown, or framed.  

    And our "media" turns into "so this side 'says,' relayer, rather than one of elucidation illumination, and explication. But I don't know if a lot of that is being done to a broader audience anymore, anywhere.  SScience tries, but it's online and that tends to be self selecting, and misinformed advocates come here armed with reams of misleading studies from Watts up, along with a fervent belief, and an already established ability to dismiss anything ss says because they "know" "skeptical science misleads" and all the other stuff they mistakenly say. 

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  12. Thank you for posting this.

    I have reposted it at

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  13. John Michael Carter,

    I think one of the reasons it is challenging to get more people to be better informed is the simple fact that many people "want to personally benefit as much as possible", and understanding this issue would require them to give up some of the lazy, easy, damaging and wasteful ways they have grown accustomed to benefiting, meaning they would have to admit they do not deserve all the benefit they currently enjoy.

    That desire to continue benefiting from things that are becoming better understood to be damaging and unsustainable leads many people to refuse to better understand. It makes them want to reinforce their misunderstanding. And Faux News abuses that gullibility to attract a target audience they can deliver to marketers who want access to people with a proven willingness to be influenced that way. It is just "good business" to attract solid advertising revenue.

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