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By Tom Toles


Who's the slow learner here?

I have been engaged here in the text equivalent of Ronald Reagan's talking oneself "out of voice and breath," arguing with my clattering collection of cantankerous commenters about the science of climate change. Occasionally someone challenges me to list the evidence for climate change, which I haven't done. GUESS WHY? It's not like the science is a secret! This subject has been studied, written about and essentially settled over the last two decades. Someone who claims to have only seen the arguments of the deniers simply ISN'T TRYING VERY HARD. Science? Scientists? Evidence? Wha? Huh? This weatherman over here says it's all a hoax! Let's call on the cartoonist to restate the encyclopedia-length case in his blog. We don't know how to do research by ourselves! Here's a hint! And another!

Is the American public simply incapable of absorbing facts it doesn't like? And, finally, over the weekend it hit me. YES! Roughly the same proportion of Americans who can't accept the science on climate don't accept THE SCIENCE ON EVOLUTION, EITHER. Duh. Okay, I understand now. And good luck, America, competing in the 21st century. Or even surviving it. --Tom Toles


By Tom Toles  | September 21, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  GOP, Media  
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Next: Read between the lines

Other Syndicated Editorial Cartoons:


We are STILL, in the 21st century, in the United States of America, having the argument about whether evolution should be taught in our public schools. 'Nuf said.

Posted by: jonroesler | September 22, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

For once I have to thank you for pointing out something important, which is that it's logically valid to ask someone to point out the facts that support their argument, up until the facts are so overwhelming that the person asks either out of sheer stupidity and ignorance, or a simple desire to avoid reaching and dealing with the conclusion, as a diversionary tactic.


In this case (as it often happens) you *also* need to move beyond the facts of global-warming (and arguing the issue) to the real-world consequences. The fact is the temperature goes up and down each day by substantially more than the average yearly temperature variation. Move on to something more substantial, more significant, more relevant to Americans in the early 21st century.

Things that they might "need good luck to survive", as you put it.

It takes two to argue, Toles. You're so sure that you're right, stop arguing. Now what are you going to do.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | September 21, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey Tom,
The Right will embrace climate-change science at the exact moment they figure out how to make it pay off in a big way. Come to think of it, that pretty much defines their belief system in general: "If it's profitable, I believe!"

Posted by: EthelredtheUnready | September 21, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Read page 38 of Al Gore's 1992 book "Earth in the Balance" and you will see where Gore was already whining about nobody believing his 98% of manmade global warming hoax scientists. Nearly 20 years later liberals are still running with this 98% of scientists myth yet the Washington Post couldn't fill a 1/2 page with photos of these scientists.

Posted by: bignoisylawnmower | September 21, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I see that people would rather worry about cost as in "dollars in pocket" than about cost as in "habitability of the planet." Clearly, many people think that the latter is an unlikely outcome. We are gradually whittling down the resources per person as we use more and our populations grow. Like yeast in a vat, we can be productive until we drown in our waste - for the yeast, alcohol; for us, well, waste.

Posted by: Jazzman7 | September 21, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for letting me vent - they're idiots, and somehow we have to keep them from getting control of our government...
Posted by: thanksforfish |

Wow, that was a mouthful. It is good to see you have taken the high road...especially when it comes to tolerance...kudos to you.

Posted by: bertzel | September 21, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Short of actually physically exploding the planet, it will continue to exist. We, however, have reason to be concerened about our own general welfare.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 21, 2010 11:39 AM

I agree, but I think we should be more concerned about our own general Warfare,
which most likely will have a Greater influence on our gerneral welfare.

Kevin...guess that could be the reason I have a headache...

Posted by: bertzel | September 21, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, quit being trolled and just ignore your detractors. I do wish to you would do more cartoons like the Tea baggage one. The amount of lulz that one generate was quite splendid. Keep at it.

Posted by: bushidollar | September 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Relax, Tom, no need for cartoonists to refute climate disinformationists. Deutsche Bank recently did a study of its own and absolutely DESTROYS the b.s. constantly ladled out by the well-oiled (and I do mean OILED) disinformationist machine. Here's the link to their report.

When a serious investment bank takes a look at the risks and renders its serious judgment, it makes the denier crowd look all the more STOO-PID! They've gone from willfully ignorant to willfully stupid in record time.

Posted by: Bugs222 | September 21, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The argument IS exausting. And part of the opposition's strategy.

Consider the most extreme opponents, (and it's an extreme example) Al Queda - they managed (in their bizarre argument) to get us to create an unnecessary war, a huge, cumbersome new expensive and redundant department of Homeland Security to get us to scare the bejesus out of ourselves, and also to witness dozens, if not hundreds of reactionary bigoted discussions about who is and who isn't to be trusted in today's world.

Admittedly, their argument included major violence, but lesser arguments also create distractions and diversions of resources.
(The environment, pot, health care, taxes, etc.)

The fact is, Al Queda intended for us to over-react in as many ways as possible - they wanted to change history, to shift the balance of the historical discussion, to expose the corrupt and greedy underbelly of capitalist culture and make us all defensive and as angry and as unbalanced in our response as possible. Some would say they succeeded is their mission.

Yet maybe my analogy is a bit overdone.

While not violent, the Tea Party wants their opposition to over-react, as this is what fuels them, this is much of what gives them life, this is what gives them justification and meaning.

The Tea Party is about tearing down social security, tearing down the department of education, tearing down civil rights progress and tolerance, tearing down health care reform, tearing down the democratic party, and they're not especially timid about it.

To argue with their premises directly, to belittle them without satire, to engage them without circumspection is a fools errand, with little reward except the renewed private education.

Better to make your own case for your own cause with vigorous clarity and enthusiasm - let your own better angels sing, and share your vision beyond the discord, leaving the devils to their fire.

But then you might not have the necessary contrast and conflict that makes for good art.

Thanks for letting me vent - they're idiots, and somehow we have to keep them from getting control of our government...

Posted by: thanksforfish | September 21, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"Earth Doesn't Care What Is Done to It....just sayin'.

Posted by: bertzel | September 21, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Yes, this is correct. Short of actually physically exploding the planet, it will continue to exist. We, however, have reason to be concerened about our own general welfare.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

jhnnywalkr, I agree. It's not about facts, it's about beliefs. If your beliefs conflict with actual facts presented to you, often times the beliefs just get more entrenched. Some research at U of Mich. looked at this a few years ago. From a story about that research in the Boston Globe:

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

So, it doesn't matter if those of us that know that climate change is real have facts to back it up or not. You can see from posts here already, that those that choose to disbelieve it are poo-pooing the links that TT provided. If they'd read the research, especially the stuff in TT's second "hint", they'd see how models have been quite accurate over the last two decades in predicting global temperature increases based on greenhouse gas emmmissions. But again, for many of these folks, facts don't matter, and often make things worse.

I equate this whole thing with addiction. When you've latched onto something that a good portion of your life revolves around, you can't let anything put a chink in that MUST remain in denial, or the whole house of cards may come tumbling down. Never mind that you're wrong, and are killing yourself in the process.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | September 21, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

More often than not, arguing with deniers is a lot like banging your head against a wall. It doesn't feel good until you stop. The willfully ignorant are just that, willfully ignorant. Their only interest is fighting with liberals, nothing more.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | September 21, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

rogied25, who are you calling 'teabaggers', and why?

Posted by: bertzel | September 21, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the commenters have done the baiting here. I would also like to provide a link for an OPEN discussion, if any are capable of looking at the WHOLE picture. Newsweek has an interesting article I recommend reading.@ read what Mr. Robert Laughlin has to say in "Earth Doesn't Care What Is Done to It....just sayin'.
I especially like the comments here telling Toles to keep the 'faith" kind of an oxymoron is it not??

Posted by: bertzel | September 21, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, we live in a world dominated by religions that provide an alternative to science. Many Christians, for example, believe in the "rapture." More believe the world will end in a huge battle between good and evil. And all of them believe that there is another life waiting beyond here.

Which there may well be. I don't know. But even if there is, does it excuse us from taking care of our environment in this life? Does it mean choosing ignorance in this life? Sadly, I think for many it does.

We need to bring secularism back to public life and government. I, for one, am tired of having religious ideologies shoved down my throat. If people want to be religious, let them do it in the privacy of their own homes. But keep it out of my face. I am so fed up that I have lost all tolerance for religion of any sort.

Posted by: CynicalC | September 21, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

You're honestly better off ignoring the commenters who are trying to bait you into arguing climate change. For me personally, I've decided they know damn well that climate change is happening. They just enjoy being willfully ignorant so they can argue with "liberals."

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 21, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Mr Twain once said:"never argue with a fool, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience".

wise words. Keep the faith.

Posted by: mwalimu | September 21, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles,

With appreciation for the two links you provided that support your belief in the climate change debate. Although I'm not a big fan of the UN (I've read some of this stuff) and the other site will require me to keep a straight face, at least you have, for once, put down a marker that says 'this is why I believe what I believe.' I will review your literature and provide some feedback to you at a later date.

As for your insistance that Americans are dumb because they don't believe in climate change science, you simply continue to alienate the 60% of the electorate that aren't convinced. Put another way, over here in the UK, you could learn a thing or two about debating. You haven't got a clue how to do it.

The one absolute in the climate science debate: it is about power. Under developed nations us it as a battering ram against developing countrys in order to reduce their power. This is a fact and continues to limit the national enthusiasm of the US, China, Russia, and others to sign on to the 'green team.'

Posted by: pararanger22 | September 21, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Any changes we make to slow global warming have effects beyond their impact on the temperature of our planet.

One example: Less carbon emission = less smog = better respiratory health = fewer trips to the doc = fewer medical insurance claims = less need for socialized medicine.

You see...everything is connected, you just need to look at HOW.

Posted by: amethystmarbles | September 21, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Tom Toles for his work to get the message across.

Here's another useful "hint" for the denialists, luke-warmers, and inactivists:

Back in the 2000 campaign, candidate Bush promised to regulate fossil CO2 emissions. He broke that promise, and engaged in eight years of delaying tactics. One of the delaying tactics was to create a new commission to study the problem. The SAP reports are synthesis reports from Bush's commissions. Perhaps they will carry more weight than a global scientific commission overseen by the UN, and a blog. But I'm not holding my breath.

Among other things, these reports associate climate disruption with heavy precipitation events in the US like 'Snowpocalypse'. "Heavy precipitation events averaged over North America have increased over the past 50 years, consistent with the observed increases in atmospheric water vapor, which have been associated with human-induced increases in greenhouse gases....Extreme precipitation episodes now account for a larger percentage of total precipitation. The most significant changes have occurred in most of the US".

Climate disruption is all around us every day, today, to anyone who is acquainted with nature and cares to look. Our region is still baking through the hottest summer on record, coupled with a crippling drought.

Posted by: chase-truth | September 21, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"There is nothing you pitiful little furless mangy monkeys can do to change it."



But the laws of physics let us know what we can do. But we had better push in the right direction.

If we don't you might be right.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 21, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I have spent a lifetime putting together jigsaw puzzles. And now I understand Mr. Toles. He has one piece of the puzzle and thinks that is all he needs. It is a good one and I do not doubt tht the climate is getting warmer. But he needs to look at its edges and wonder what it connects to. Then he will see the picture and not just the piece. I want him to see tht our future could lead to cooling. Or warming. That we need to be ready for either possibility.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 21, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Mairead Posted
it's true that it's marrow-stupid of people to ignore the very obvious climate disaster, particularly since, unless we at least stop if not reverse it, all life on Earth will end when the temperature gets high enough to melt the stored methane ice.

The earth has been much hotter than it is now.
The earth has been much cooler than it is now.
All before humans ever existed.

The earth will get much hotter than it is now.
The earth will get much cooler than it is now.

There is nothing you pitiful little furless mangy monkeys can do to change it.

Posted by: rexreddy | September 21, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Were not in Kansas anymore Toto!
And Hillary is pissed. She wants her slippers back.

Posted by: rexreddy | September 21, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

To quote blogger Kung Fu Monkey,

"Everybody who wants to live in the 21st Century over here. Everybody who wants to live in the 1800's over there. Good. Thanks. Good luck with that."

Posted by: lcooksey1 | September 21, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, I guess I will go off to work. I hope that I can make it through the climate disaster to get there.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 21, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Mr Toles, it's true that it's marrow-stupid of people to ignore the very obvious climate disaster, particularly since, unless we at least stop if not reverse it, all life on Earth will end when the temperature gets high enough to melt the stored methane ice.

But y'know what? It's also stupid to ignore, as you do, the complicity of the Dems and Obama in maintaining the disaster.

When BushCo was in power, many people believed you were miles in front with your understanding. Imagine our dismay when we found that you're apparently as unreflectively partisan as any party wheelhorse.

Do please re-assess your commitment to partisan politics.

Posted by: _Mairead | September 21, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Keep the faith Mr. Toles. Love your commentary & cartoons. Of course, I don't comment often because I do agree w/you about evolution and climate change. Maybe I'll start.

Posted by: carolerae48 | September 21, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Nothing is as predictable as the political and moral chauvanism of you teabaggers.

You're really going to miss social security and medicare.

Posted by: rogied25 | September 21, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Hey, at least Ms. O'Donnel never drove off a bridge, or lied to the American public about having sexual relations with someone other than her spouse, or used her influence to help a bank that her husband had stock in, or forgot to include the income from properties on her taxes, or said at first that the health care bill was not a tax but then said it was a tax, or . . . . . . . .

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 20, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Go Christine keep up the great work and learning from Sarah like the advice about staying away from the leftist media. The leftist media are worthless and a waste of time. Keep running on a platform of freedom, smaller government and a better life than what liberalism provides. Remind people the other choice in Delaware is the guy named Coons who likes to call himself the "Bearded Marxist."

Posted by: jornolibist | September 20, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Young people now adays have been exposed to many eccentric things. Ms. O'Donnel at least is being honest. Claiborne Pell believed in pyramids as a source of energy and influence. Oh, and Mr. Toles. How would you pose a cartoon about Democrat Alvin Greene and his charge of showing pornography to a minor? I guess we can't do that to a Democrat can we? Ms. O'Donnel must be quite a threat to expend cartoon time on her. As far as your latest global warming eruption what will the effect on our economy be if Gore and you get your way? Costs to citizens, to business. The cost, Mr. Toles, the cost. Hard to shove that stuff down our throats when Fall is sooooooo pretty. The global warming agenda has more to do with it than just "saving" the planet. It is another attempt at social engineering by the do gooders. The American public can get snookered Mr. Toles by slick campaign ads and speeches. But the global warming campaign and it's consequences to our economy is a rat the public can smell a mile away.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 20, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

well, thank god MY crystal ball is still working...or is it that you have become so easily predictable?
Toles the Teacher, claims not to be the short version of a skit I liked on snl

Posted by: bertzel | September 20, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

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