Posted by: ericgrimsrud | January 25, 2015

Funny perhaps, if the last one wasn’t so tragic

2015 Toon 3

The age-old anti-science arguments such as those shown above have typically come from the well-established, well-healed portions of society – whether those influential folks found their voices in the churches, commercial organizations, or governments of their times. So why have the rich and powerful among us so often been the most scientifically backwards? Wouldn’t you expect them to have greater access to new ideas and intellectual developments than the rest of the population? This contradiction of expectations obviously has a lot to do with the fact that the rich and powerful generally made themselves rich and powerful via the financial systems in which they lived and learned to dominate. For these prosperous folks, great changes were often not welcomed because of the possibility that those changes might alter the business-as-usual games they had learned to play so well.

We have a clear example of this phenomenon today, of course. If the rich and powerful of the USA were to agree with essentially all of our professional scientific organizations that the combustion of fossil fuels poses a major threat to human civilization, that change of attitude would ensure that most of our remaining fossil fuels would be left in the ground, as they should be. This obvious and essential solution to our global warming problem is unlikely to happen any time soon, however, because of the enormous wealth our rich and powerful would thereby forfeit. “What’s this?”, they would say, “leave our black gold in the ground? – Never!”  For this financial reason alone, the rich and powerful will do anything required – including declaring all-out war on science – to become even more rich and more powerful by the continued extraction and use of our enormous reserves of fossil fuels. For this purpose, they will also become or pretend to become scientifically illiterate in order to allow a continuation of  their business-as-usual life-styles without having to explain themselves. “Gosh, I’m not a scientist – let the scientist argue about it” they say as they continue to ignore what those scientists have already told them – for the last 10 years.

As the cartoon above shows, this has happened throughout history whenever smart people (known as “elitists” by the dummies) learn new things about the world in which they lived and this will continue to happen for at least the next two years as that last fellow shown in the cartoon above holds forth to his GOP peanut gallery (that is Senator Inhofe, is it not?). Senator Inhofe is from the oil-rich state of Oklahoma, and provides scientifically childish books, op eds, and speeches on the subject of climate change for his scientifically brain-dead comrades within the GOP. He has thereby become the in-house scientific “expert” for the GOP and has recently been appointed Chairman of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

Therefore, because of the urgency of the climate change problem we must redouble our efforts to contest the great power of the rich, powerful, and scientifically illiterate during the next two years. We don’t have time to simply wait until these “fossilized brains” of the GOP die off.

Thanks go to Skeptical Science for their “Toon of the Week”.


  1. I’m not certain we need to leave the oil and natural gas in the ground. These are great feedstocks for polymer and other important chemicals. Several people I know have argued that it is more important to move to renewable energy to conserve these valuable resources for industry.

  2. “Rich and powerful” T. Boone Pickens was quoted to have said, “I’ve lost my ass in wind power. The jobs are in oil and gas industry.” He tried to put wind turbines here in windy Goodhue County, Minnesota (lots of open farm land) but those against said that they were concerned about turbines killing eagles and bats. Government sided with eagles and bats. (We do have a nuclear power plant — a great source of energy). Common knowledge suggests that more CO2 and other greenhouse gases contribute to a warmer planet. However, rich or poor, man’s empathy for others isn’t automatic. Many of us would rather have you do as I say — and not as I do. We enjoyed T-bones at dinner tonight and not a single soul mentioned the gases these
    animals produce.

    [Response from EPG: Dave the problem with Picken’s wind project ois that he had to fight against gas and oil energy for which no carbon tax is assigned. You can’t beat gas and oil if they are allowed to use the atmosphere as a free garbage dump. And Pickens is Pro fossil fuels and, I think, a denier of AGW – he is a gas and oil man all the way and just tried wind without sufficient motivation – reducing CO2 emissions. He thought he could do it just based on price without a C tax – wrong.}

    • “The billionaire was even more explicit about his goal of reducing his company’s tax payments. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” he said. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” Warren Buffett

  3. By the way; Eric, the quote of the statement that Buffett made came from a reliable source and not Rolling Stone magazine or Skeptical Science.

  4. It pains me to agree with you given that you can be relied on to be wrong on almost every issue.

    We need to stop burning fossil fuels. If we leave these resources in the ground our children will find much better uses for them that burning them.

    If we stop burning fossil fuels, our civilization based on the “Industrial Revolution” will collapse unless there is an affordable alternative source of energy. Sadly, wind wave and solar are not affordable sources.

    If fossil fuels are banned the only energy source we have that can meet our needs at an affordable cost is nuclear power:

  5. Galloping, I disagree with you about the “only” energy sources we have. I have had solar panels on two of my homes and as a result produced all of the electrical power need for those homes. They work well and require zero maintenance are expected to last for many decades.

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