The Midmorning Refill: The world is flat, cigarettes are good for you and the artic icecaps are just fine

Today’s Flickr Photo

From Thursday's rally against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Flickr photo by Common Cause.

If you read one thing today . . .

When our great-grandchildren click on their history lessons will they look back on the current debate over climate change the same way we view the 17th century debate on whether the earth was flat or round? Or will it be like the 1925 case of the State of Tennessee vs. Scopes, which put evolution on trial? Even though the theory of evolution is widely accepted, there’s still some holdouts who refuse to believe, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. Climate scientist Michael Mann has an op-ed in today’s WaPo that fires back at the politicians who are trying to promote doubt about climate change where there is none.

We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change.

The basic physics and chemistry of how carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases trap heat in the lower atmosphere have been understood for nearly two centuries. Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes. Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.

Overheard:

From  Michael Luo’s excellent piece in the New York Times about the influx of money into the midterm elections:

“The difference between the law pre- and post-Citizens United is subtle to the expert observer,” said Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and a critic of the ruling. “To the casual observer, what they have heard is the court has gone from a world that prohibited corporate political speech and activity, even though that isn’t actually the case, to suddenly for the first time that it’s allowed. It’s that change in psychology that has made a difference in terms of the amount of money now being spent.”

And be sure to check out the graphic that illustrates the money trail.