Web Letters | The Nation

Confronting the Climate Cranks

Cranky like a fox

In this excellent article Mark Hertsgaard unfortunately seems to be enamored with what he thinks is a compelling label to describe climate change deniers and special interest groups as being simple “climate cranks.” Merriam defines “crank” as an “annoying eccentric person…grouch, crackpot, kook, nutcase, screwball.” They are none of the above but act as a powerful, well-financed conspiracy with tens of millions of dollars at their disposal to lobby members of Congress, manipulate public opinion through mainstream media outlets and to control one of our two political parties. Now there is formidable clout that no mere “cranks” are capable of mustering. To think of astute, highly influential power brokers as the billionaire Koch brothers and others like them as “cranks” is not only misleading, it misdefines the true nature of those who are a formidable threat to our environment. The author’s admirable but misdirected initiative to confront them publicly under the banal banner “Confront the Climate Cranks” is not only misdirected, it represents no credible threat.

R.S. Rasin

Chicago, IL

Feb 9 2011 - 1:26am

Confronting the Climate Cranks

Blame Nature

Hola, How touching. It is admirable that the journalist holds his daughter in such high esteem. He is indeed a superior father. As for adverse effects of climate change/global warming, I concur totally. Only one problema, though. Man is not the primary author. Nature is. Moreover, there is precious little we can do about it even if it were manmade, given the the gangbuster economies of the emerging markets of China, India and so many others who are in no way constrained by the Kyoto Protocol. Too bad, but we all must cry in frustration... if that would do any good.

Arnold Bock


Jan 21 2011 - 6:11pm

Confronting the Climate Cranks

You'd better listen to them

Climate cranks is a new one (normally you might call then deniers). If I were Hertsgaard I would investigate further (I think he would think his daughter is a little less threatened by the future).

Mr. Hansen over the years has made some maneuvers that some cranks have found out about and continue to follow. Namely, his NASA organization has made adjustments to historical temperatures (without notice) that have magnified the temperatures. Cranks have "admitted" temperatures have risen over time but not abnormally or forced by outside influences such as human activity. Now, the other alternative of colder temperatures would probably threaten Hertsgaard's child more. Historically, a warming period has always paralleled advances in civilization (cooling just the opposite).

We have seen that climatologists have made it very inconvenient in the UK the past two winters by forecasting warmer than normal weather when they have  been the coldest since the nineteenth century. And in Australia, the extended drought has made dubious decision-making on flood control (since we all "know" droughts are due to global warming and warming will get worse, so no concern with flooding).

Your advocates have said that future temperatures will increase a modest portion of 1 degree at a cost of what? Global economies? Caring for the global poor? There will be less in budgets to continue to meet current needs (of which you writing for The Nation have a list much greater than mine). So, during this period political turmoil (Republicans in Congress), I think your side should look/listen to what some of the cranks have been saying. Otherwise, Hertsgaard's daughter's well-being will suffer more than his has in his lifetime.

Just the implication of falsifying data should cause him to consider a review (if only for his child). The scientific process has been perverted by this "study" of climate change.

Art Benson

Manchester, WA

Jan 21 2011 - 5:49pm

Confronting the Climate Cranks

The Green Sahara

Mark, methinks you're the crank. To wit:

Read about "The Green Sahara," National Geographic, February 2010. Next, research the following:

"Several factors led to the formation of the Green Sahara. The Sahara has been a desert for a very long time, but around 10,000 BCE, the Earth's orbit wobbled slightly, causing a shift in weather patterns. The monsoons which drench Southern Africa today shifted up, pouring water onto the Sahara, where it formed bodies of water. Plants settled in, taking advantage of the moist environment, and they were followed by animals and humans who established lively civilizations. When weather patterns shifted again, the Sahara returned to a desert state briefly before greening once more. Around 4,000 BCE, the Sahara became a desert once more..."

Hmmmmmm... gee... weren't 10,000 BCE and 4,000 BCE a few years before motor vehicle emissions, factory smokestacks and flurocarbons in spray cans?

But here's the deal we should be making for this go-'round. Let China and India lead the way on reducing carbon emissions. I'm perfectly content to have the US in third position when it comes to strangling a national economy.

Jack Davis

Phoenix, AZ

Jan 21 2011 - 5:32pm

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