SALT LAKE CITY — Science infused with politics explains why there is still a vigorous debate over global warming, according to history professor and author Naomi Oreskes.
"The industrial revolution brought the developed world 150 years of unpresidented prosperity. Global warming is the bill," Oreskes said during a Monday lecture at the University of Utah's Wallace Stegner Center.
Her latest book, "Merchants of Doubt," endeavors to lay blame for the increasingly partisan debate over climate change on a small bloc of scientists who use "doubt mongering" as a tool to fend off the kind of scientific certainty about global warming that would open the way for government regulation of carbon dioxide emissions.
She said free market fundamentalists see such regulation as harmful to free enterprise and have labeled those warning of the harms of global warming as environmental extremists.
Oreskes said some of those same Cold War-era scientists, acting as consultants for the tobacco industry, helped delay FDA regulation of tobacco products until two years ago. "They insisted the science (about tobacco's harm) was too uncertain in order to prevent government action," she said. "As long as they could make believe there was still doubt, the longer they could stave off regulation."
Doubt is the ideological politics in the debate about the science of global warming, she said.
Monday's lecture was prefaced with an acknowledgment that the federal trial was beginning several miles away for Tim DeChristopher, who ran up $1.8 million in bids he did not intent to pay for oil and gas leases as an act of civil disobedience against expanded development of fossil fuels, a key culprit contributing to climate change.