Top 5 Ways the 'Birthers' Are Like the Global Warming Deniers
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The people who refuse to accept the reality that President Obama was born in the United States share much in common with those who refuse to accept the reality that humans are dramatically changing the climate.
5. Both groups are impervious to the evidence. During the campaign, "Obama released a certification of live birth, which is the official document you get if you ask Hawaii for a copy of your birth certificate," as Salon explains. Further, "state officials have repeatedly affirmed its authenticity and said they've checked it against the original record and that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii." Politico labels this "seemingly incontrovertible evidence." Similarly, the reality of human-caused warming has been overwhelmingly demonstrated and affirmed by the peer-reviewed literature, the hundreds of scientists who review and report on that literature periodically as part of the IPCC process and the more than 100 world governments (including the Bush Administration) who approved the 2007 IPCC summary reports word for word.
4. Both come from the same group of people. The NYT explained that the birther movement "first took root among some staunchly conservative elements." As Politico notes, "A whopping 58 percent of Republicans either think Barack Obama wasn't born in the US (28 percent) or aren't sure (30 percent)." And it is conservatives and Republicans who make up the overwhelming majority of those who question climate science (see "The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP").
3. Both group get their disinformation from the same right-wing sources. The NYT wrote on June 24 that "Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the country's most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, told his listeners on Tuesday that Mr. Obama "has yet to have to prove that he's a citizen." " Similarly, Limbaugh tells his listeners things like, "Despite the hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists, there is no reason to believe in global warming."
2. Both groups have an underlying motivation -- their desire to obstruct progressive government action. The birthers, of course, are trying to delegitimize Obama, to block his entire reform agenda. NYT science reporter Andy Revkin noted about one huge conference of global warming deniers, "The one thing all the attendees seem to share is a deep dislike for mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gases." As I explain at length in my book, a central reason that conservatives and libertarians reject the scientific understanding of human-caused climate change is that they simply cannot stand the solution.
1. Both groups believe in a mammoth conspiracy theory. The birthers not only believe that Obama's birth documents are forged and that current Hawaii state officials are lying about them. They have to believe in a conspiracy dating back five decades, as Salon explains: two Hawaiian newspapers carried announcements of Obama's birth in August 1961. (Read the Honolulu Advertiser's item from Aug. 13, 1961, nine days after Obama's birth, here.).... The truth, though, is that the notices are even stronger pieces of evidence than that. Obama's family didn't place them -- Hawaii did, as it does for all births. The announcements were based on official records sent to the papers by the state's Department of Health."
Deniers like Senator James Inhofe (R-OIL) or Anthony Watts proudly assert or repeat statements like "global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public" or "the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind." That hoax would require complicity among thousands of climate scientists, all of the leading scientific journals, the National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and every major U.S. scientific organization (see "Yet more scientists call for deep GHG cuts"). Such statements accuses every major government, including ours, of participating in that conspiracy, since they all sign off on every word in the Assessment Report summaries.
The differences between the birthers and the deniers, however, are bigger than the similarities. The birthers are relatively harmless, the mainstream media has mostly debunked them and relegated them to a side show. The deniers, however, still get regular play in the MSM and are far, far more dangerous. If enough Americans, opinion makers, and policymakers continue to listen to the deniers message of delay, delay, delay, we will destroy a livable climate, ruining the health and well-being of the next 50 generations to walk the planet.
The birthers are stuck in the past. The deniers want to destroy the future.