Help Wanted: For an 'Aggressive Program to Go After ... Deniers' of Climate Change

June 24, 2011 - 2:04 PM

timothy wirth

UN Foundation President Timothy Wirth at the 2011 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos Switzerland. (Wikipedia Commons)

(CNSNews.com) – Former Democratic Sen. Tim Wirth of Colorado, now the president of the UN Foundation, said the flooding and forest fires in the United States this year are evidence of "the kind of dramatic climate impact" climate change models have predicted and that those in the know on climate change must “undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers.”

In a UN Foundation conference call about climate change, from Svalbard, Norway on Thursday, Wirth said, “[W]e have to--I think, again as I’ve suggested before--undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers, who are putting out these mistruths, and really call them for what they’re doing and make a battle out of it. They’ve had pretty much of a free ride so far, and that time has got to stop.”

Wirth also said it was a good thing that people such as weather forecasters have come together “to try to explain climate change and climate impacts when they’re doing the evening news and talking about the weather, which is where most people in the United States get their information. That’s going to be, I think over a period of time, an extremely important set of steps to take.”

“We also have to do a better job of having the scientific community being able to explain what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, and why they’re doing it in very clear terms that are understandable to 300 million Americans,” said Wirth.

As for the recent fires in Southwest and the flooding in the Midwest, Wirth said: “While you can’t predict exactly from the climate models what’s going to happen, we know that the overall trend is going to be increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires. And we’re seeing exactly that sort of thing in the United States today with increased flooding this last year, with the fires that have swept, raging through Arizona and western New Mexico and Texas, the kind of dramatic climate impact that we have seen in the United States already.”

“Slowly but surely, people are going to connect the dots,” he said. “They’re going to understand that this is precisely the kind of significant change that has been predicted and that we’re slowly but surely seeing.”

The UN Foundation was founded by liberal billionaire Ted Turner, who launched the cable news network CNN. Turner also is the chairman of the UN Foundation. During the conference call, reporters asked several questions of Wirth and Turner, as well as the other UN Foundation executives on the call: board member Gro Harlem Brundtland, who is the former prime minister of Norway; Vice President of Energy and Climate Reid Detchon; and Vice President for Communications and Public Relations Aaron Sherinian.

Wirth, who served in the Senate from 1987 to 1993,  made his remarks about climate change and global warming deniers in response to a question from Barbara Crossette, who is the United Nations correspondent for The Nation magazine and who also writes for the United Nations Association.

Crossette asked Wirth: “I just want to turn in with a theme, an opinion, at a different sort of level, and that is, the question of raising public awareness--not just awareness but as it goes into action, as you know, writing to your congressman, member of Congress, you know, doing things publicly. And it starts in many parts of America certainly, and maybe in other industrial nations--an awful lot of people see what you see. I don’t know a lot of people have, for example, been in rural areas, in Ethiopia or places where it’s so starkly evident what’s happening. And I just wondered what suggestions you have for--or is it social media that needs to be involved?  How can this be more dramatically presented to the public when you’re fighting all these other images on the Internet and other places?

ted turner

Ted Turner, founder and chairman of the UN Foundation. (AP Photo)

“And also," Crosette continued, "it sounds strange, but taking opinion makers from, for example, local newspaper editors, to a place like where you’ve been or to a drought-ridden place in Africa, whether there’s any way to start getting people to sort of feel and smell and sense exactly what’s happening and not make it a so theoretical issue?”

Sen. Wirth said: “Well, Barbara, that’s again, back to the major question we’ve been talking about. First, you and I know that while you can’t predict exactly from the climate models what’s going to happen, we know that the overall trend is going to be increased drought, increased flooding, increased number of fires – and we’re seeing exactly that sort of thing in the United States today with increased flooding this last year, with the fires that have swept, raging through Arizona and western New Mexico and Texas, the kind of dramatic climate impact that we have seen in the United States already. Slowly but surely, people are going to connect the dots. They’re gonna’ understand that this is precisely the kind of significant change that has been predicted and that we’re slowly but surely seeing.

“Happily, there are people like those in, the weather forecasters who’ve come together, you know, into a major group to try to discuss and to understand the impacts and how to explain climate change and climate impacts when they’re doing the evening news and talking about the weather, which is where most people in the United States get their information. That’s going to be, I think over a period of time, an extremely important set of steps to take.

“We also have to do a better job of having the scientific community being able to explain what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and why they’re doing it in very clear terms that are understandable to 300 million Americans.

“Third, we have to, I think, again as I’ve suggested before, undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers, who are putting out these mistruths, and really call them for what they’re doing and make a battle out of it.  They’ve had pretty much of a free ride so far, and that time has got to stop.

“Those are three ideas that I would stick right up front. Let me ask my colleagues here, Reid or Ted, do you, as U.S. citizens, have additions that you would make to that list of suggestions?”