We were very disappointed that The Independent recently ran an op-ed written by a professional climate change denier, Tom Harris. While the world grapples with the consequences (flooding, crop damage, etc.) and seeks solutions (the recent UN Paris conference), Harris trots out the familiar arguments employed by his industry: Climate models are imprecise; it’s too expensive or impossible to change the weather; and perhaps most audacious, investments in climate mitigation are effectively stealing resources from today’s needy for the benefit to those living in the future.
Harris has written this piece because he is paid to do so by the fossil fuel industry, which has enjoyed decades of profits substantially subsidized by the planet in the form of free pollution dumping, the cost of which is borne by all, regardless of the individual’s contribution to the problem. Indeed, we are well into the sixth mass extinction, brought about in part by climate change. The thousands of species threatened with extinction clearly bear no blame for causing climate change. Harris’s role in this “game” is to sow doubt and confusion amongst the public in order to delay implementation of the policies needed to rein in climate pollution such as carbon pricing, fees, or taxes.
A newspaper’s opinions page serves an invaluable resource to the community, insofar as it provides a venue for honest debate. And yet, you can’t have an honest debate where one side simply refuses to accept objective evidence and instead uses propaganda to make its case. We can argue about what the best solutions to climate change may be, the costs involved, and who should pay for it, but you can’t wish the problem away by calling it a “hoax.” The Independent should promote a discussion about climate change solutions rather than printing phony claims by paid propagandists like Harris.
The signers of this letter are all are volunteers with the Santa Barbara chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which advocates for a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend.