Thursday, October 25, 2012

The ocean's gonna win.

The latest Frontline on PBS is “Climate of Doubt,” about the people and organizations promoting and funding AGW denialism in the US. It’s not the greatest Frontline I’ve seen, especially in its choice of people to feature, but it’s worth watching (best in conjunction with reading Merchants of Doubt).

You can watch it online here, and there’s a participatory live discussion online at 2 PM Eastern Time today.

My post title comes from one of the interviewees, Stanley Riggs, a geology professor at East Carolina University who worked on a commission assessing the probabilities of sea level rise on the North Carolina coast over the next several decades. The Right there has fought efforts to even begin to address sea level rise, even introducing a bill that would limit the evidence base that can be used in policy decisions to historical data. Now efforts are delayed several more years as a new commission, likely including denialists, has to be convened at public expense.

The Frontline episode as a whole shows the denialists crowing about their legislative and propaganda victories in the face of catastrophic transformations of the conditions of life, but Riggs’ comment really drives home the pathetic absurdity of these celebrations. Asked whether he and the other scientists have “lost” in North Carolina, he concludes wryly that political decisions aren't determining. In the long term, of course, “The ocean’s gonna win.”

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