My turn: Palin's climate change views don't match reality

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sarah Palin's special commentary in the Washington Post, reprinted in the Juneau Empire on Dec. 11, and titled "Copenhagen's political science" fell right in with the conservative push to portray global warming as a hoax perpetrated by liberals and the majority of the world's scientists.

What motive liberals and scientists would have for doing so is unexplained and inexplicable. Are we all buying stock in windmills so that Palin, riding a rabid elephant, will have a new, crowd-pleasing hallucination to joust with? Well, it sells papers and fans the flames on hate radio.

The former governor also ignores the documented facts in regard to receding glaciers, melting polar ice caps, slowly rising temperatures and changing weather patterns. To her, as with her fellow Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma, these scientifically documented facts (also know as reality) are just a bunch of hooey contrived for unknown but devious reasons by the world's scientists and supported by anyone else who keeps informed on global warming and respects scientific research.

Palin writes, "Our representatives in Copenhagen should remember that good environmental policy-making is about weighing real-world costs and benefits - not pursuing a political agenda" as though cities that may be flooded and agricultural areas that may become deserts are not a real-world cost that our children and their children's children will have to pay for, and endure the consequences of, because people who are alive now ignore the reality of global warming.

It is ironic to see that Palin accuses others of pursuing political agendas while she simultaneously tries to debunk reality and empirical, scientific data by mislabeling the adherents of both as "radical environmentalists."

The Alaskans who live in Shishmaref might disagree with our former governor in regard to the reality and consequences of global warming. Their lives have been tied to surviving in the Arctic for centuries. They see their island being washed away because the once-frozen Chukchi Sea, which used to protect them from ocean storms, is now melting and exposing their homes to increased wave action. It also is preventing them from hunting because the ice is now too thin to support them on their snowmachines for much of the winter. They are also worried that they can no longer freeze and store their food in the permafrost because it too is melting.

Palin probably knows this, but in her ambitious and self-serving world, reality is not what is, it is whatever sells and gets you where you want to go.

As Charles Pierce writes in his book, "Idiot America: How stupidity became a virtue in the land of the free," James Madison hoped for an America that would be "a country where the disciplined intellect and the renegade soul could work together to create a freedom not merely from political tyranny, but also from the tyranny of religion and unreason, the despotism of commercial success and brute popularity. A country where, paradoxically, the more respectable you became, the less credible you ought to be."

How great we could be if facts and education were once again revered, and show business, hate radio, angry gut reactions, and kooky beliefs were only looked upon for entertainment, and not for political guidance.

• Lisle Hebert is a Juneau resident.

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