The pattern of online comments responding to articles discussing the very real threat of climate change (Our View, Jan. 19) is predictable. First there are the reflexive deniers—those whose talking points come directly from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. They can be recognized by their reliance on uninformed mockery (ridiculing Al Gore, for example).
Then come the conspiracy theorists, who would have us believe that all the world's scientists are attempting to seize our assets, criminalize SUV ownership and usher in a new socialist world order—a notion especially ludicrous to anyone who's ever actually known a scientist. Close behind them are the "Climategate" afficionadi, who cling to the notion that a multiply debunked non-scandal somehow invalidates decades of measurement and analysis. And when a voice of reason points out that the wealthy and powerful petroleum industry is far more likely to distort unwelcome data than are climate scientists, he or she is treated to a stream of insults and derision.
Meanwhile, the world grows ever hotter.