As the right-wing echo chamber prepares its latest round of climate change denial in response to the climate talks currently underway in Paris, France, actor Sean Penn had some harsh words for the propagandists at FOX News:
Well, I don’t believe there are climate skeptics. I think there are people who indulge in a culture of what can be reduced to Fox network thinking. That has nothing to do with the politics that apply to the protection of quality of life in any sense. It’s like talking to a member of a cult.
The world-famous actor and director hit the nail right on the head. It’s obvious to see that the uniformity of talking points among members of the right-wing is being set by the network, whose opinions are then reiterated at all levels of engagement – from internet comment sections to the stump speeches of presidential candidates. What’s even more bizarre and alarming is the utter rejection of scientific fact and empirically proven knowledge in favor of less tangible “evidence”, like the “feelings” of presidential candidate and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. There’s even statistical evidence to back it up – a “March poll of 1,016 Americans found that 17 percent trust Fox News on climate change, while only 11 percent trust the president. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they trust print, online and broadcast media outlets. Forty-five percent of those polled in the recent St. Leo survey said they trust nongovernmental scientists and educators for climate change information, and only 13 percent trust the federal government.” A 2013 study also found that “consumption of conservative media decreases both trust in scientists and belief that global warming is occurring.”
Penn went on to say in an interview with the AFP that the Paris conference is our “last great hope,” and we are going to have to accept a “cultural shift” if we are to survive the coming storm. “Everybody is going to have to change in their daily life. If you love your children you have to make some changes or they will have a far lesser world than we’ve had. So that’s simple and it’s immediate.”
To put things in perspective, Mother Jones reported that:
Earth’s average temperature has risen about 0.85 degrees Celsius (1.53 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late nineteenth century. We’re already seeing heat waves, forests burning, intensified droughts and hurricanes, and glaciers melting away before our eyes. As we start nearing a 2-degree increase, what once sounded like dystopian science fiction starts becoming reality: rising seas wiping out whole nations and parts of major cities, mass food shortages, and feedback loops we don’t even understand yet spiraling out of control. Without major action, we’re on track for anywhere from a 4 to 6 degree increase by the end of this century.
We have, as a species, grown complacent in our arrogance. We cannot allow greed and ignorance to be the downfall of human civilization as we know it today; severe change is indisputably coming, and how we react to it now will ease the transition pain when it does come – and it is coming. Over 400 United States cities are past the point of no return; no matter what we do, they will be underwater at some point in the future. It’s obvious at this point that we cannot simply continue with business as usual. If the Republican Party and the fossil fuel industry get their way, there will be little left but chaos and conflict as the human race competes for rapidly diminishing arable land and usable resources.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.