Amy Roberts: The greatest denial on Earth
February 10, 2015
This weekend I raked leaves. In my yard. In Park City.
Raking leaves in itself is not a newsworthy event, but when you do it in February, at 7,000 feet, that definitely deserves a little ink. The lack of snowfall and freakishly warm temperatures are alarming. Even the tourists from Florida seem a little put out. I know locals who have seen 30 or more Park City winters, and none of them can recall ever seeing so much dirt this time of year.
But perhaps even more alarming than the thermometer hitting 60 degrees in the middle of winter, is that nearly half of the U.S. Senate, including Utah’s two senators, recently voted to deny that humans significantly contribute to climate change — even though 97 percent of climate scientists say humans are in fact the primary cause of climate change. NASA also agrees, noting: "The main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the ‘greenhouse effect’ — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space."
Yet despite really smart people (and those with even an ounce of common sense) agreeing that man is mostly responsible for climate change, apparently Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee think they know more than the people who put a robot on Mars. Rocket scientists like they know anything. So Orrin and Mike voted against reality, giving us permission to burn however much carbon we want and completely absolving us of our responsibility to the planet.
They were just two of the 49 Republicans senators who voted to deny that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.
While the vote took place a couple weeks ago, it didn’t gain a lot of media coverage. Really, when there are members of Congress who genuinely believe hurricanes are caused by gay marriage and abortion, it’s hard to devote much time in the newscast to something that is a slightly less insane version of insane.
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But here’s the thing — science doesn’t go away just because you vote against it.
The vote, which was on an amendment to a bill that would force the White House to approve the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, signaled just how far out of step the Republican majority is with what are largely uncontroversial findings in the scientific community.
While the idea that anyone could think humans aren’t to blame for climate change is mindboggling to me, I wanted to understand how, exactly, anyone could be so absorbed in a belief, the refusal of fact seems logical to them. How do you just inexplicably reject scientific law?
So I did some research and came across a book called "The Republican Brain, The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality."
While the title sounds glib, the psychology is rather fascinating, and the book explains quite convincingly why people who tend to hold politically conservative ideas also tend to deny science and reject reality.
The book’s synopsis on Amazaon.com reads: "Bestselling author Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.
Basically, the good news is, these people aren’t just ignorant, because there are actually real, scientific reasons why they deny undeniable truths.
But since the book uses science to prove this, it’s doubtful they’ll believe it.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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