Flat-earthers threaten us all

My relationship with the Natural Resources Defense Council began the same time my marriage did, because my ex-husband was on the board. Well, my marriage ended, but my relationship with NRDC endures - mostly because my ex and I never asked NRDC who it really wanted to live with.

Over the past 20 years, the work of the NRDC, which this past week held its annual Forces for Nature gala at the American Museum of Natural History, has only become more critical. That's because the fight now isn't just against pollution and the polluters. It's against the emergence of a very vocal group of modern flat-earthers who deny that there is any problem at all.

There's been an explosion of truly medieval thinking - and not just on the fringes. There are flat-earthers in the Senate, in the House, among the very people writing the actual laws that govern what we can and can't do to the planet.

They are waging a war on science, on logic, on facts and on truth itself. Because the deniers - those who profit from pollution and their handmaidens in government - know that if they can sow doubt about whether there's even a problem, they don't have to worry about fighting over the details of a solution.

It's like our house is on fire and not only do we have to fight the flames, but we have to push through a loud group of bystanders who claim that it's not on fire at all -- that we're just being alarmists.

And the media have been a culprit, too. In the pursuit of "balance," many in the media have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth. Instead, far too many reporters, like Pontius Pilate, wash their hands of finding the truth and consider presenting two sides of the climate change story proof of their "objectivity." Not every story has two sides, and the truth is, in fact, often found solidly on one side or the other. The earth is not flat. Evolution is a fact. Global warming is real.

As Martin Luther King said about a different struggle: "We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today."

While much of the media is suffering from attention-deficit disorder, what we need is a little more obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because when it comes to journalism, OCD is very good for the environment. A great example of this was the coverage of the highly contentious Keystone oil pipeline. The decision by the State Department last week to postpone moving forward with the project until after the 2012 election came on the heels of relentless coverage by environmental reporters and editors - including those at HuffPost - who doggedly stayed with the story and refused to let it go.

Dr. King was right: Tomorrow is indeed today. And what we do today will deeply affect our tomorrows - and the tomorrows of our children.

Today, 9 million kids in America have been diagnosed with asthma, much of it caused by the explosion of toxins in the environment. At a time when these children should be growing and discovering and playing with abandon, far too many are sent to school supplied with pencils, rulers - and inhalers.

For many people, the signature image of climate change is the disappearing snowcap atop Mount Kilimanjaro. For me, it's the image of these children having to stop playing at recess so they can suck on their inhalers.

This is a cause that completely transcends political ideology, and that is truly beyond left and right. It's a health issue, it's a moral issue, it's our deepest obligation to our children.

(Arianna Huffington's e-mail address is arianna@huffingtonpost.com.)

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