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FLAT EARTH SOCIETY HEAD: Climate Change Is Real

Barack Obama climate change speech

In a major address at Georgetown University Tuesday, President Barack Obama referred derogatorily to deniers of climate change as members of the “Flat Earth Society” — a reference to a group that believes the Earth is flat.

The Flat Earth Society has existed in modern times from 1956-2001, and it was resurrected in 2004 by current President Daniel Shenton.

But Shenton didn’t take too kindly to Obama’s dig, a not-so-veiled reference to the fact that the society has become a metaphor for backward thinking on science. In large part, that’s because Shenton personally believes the threat of climate change is real. 

“For what it’s worth, the Flat Earth Society doesn’t have an ‘official’ position on climate change. That falls a bit outside our remit,” Shenton told Business Insider in an email from England. ”Personally, though, I believe the evidence available does support the position that climate change is at least partially influenced by human industrialisation.”

Shenton said that Obama should refer to more mainstream groups — like the American Enterprise Institute — the next time he needs a joke in a speech.

“So if President Obama wants to reference people that actively deny anthropogenic climate change, he’d probably be better served by citing groups like the American Enterprise Institute rather than the Flat Earth Society,” Shenton said.

Obama earned a round of applause and some chuckles for his remarks directed at the Flat Earth Society, which he compared to “sticking your head in the sand.”

“Nobody has a monopoly on what is a very hard problem, but I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real,” Obama said.

“We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here.”

Shenton’s full email is below:

Hi, Brett.  Thanks for the email.  I just checked my email about 20 minutes ago and was confused as to why my four most recent emails had “Obama” in the subject line.  Now I understand! 

I checked President Obama’s quote from today.  It’s disappointing but not surprising — I do occasionally see references to the Society in that context.  Gordon Brown made a similar remark back in 2009 when referring to climate-change deniers.  I generally try not to take it personally, though.  I understand that most people see the Flat Earth Society’s views as extremely unorthodox and perhaps a bit kooky.  I’d like the public to know, though, that our views are based on extensive research and we highly value the pursuit of truth.  In fact, the Society’s motto is (and has been since the 1800′s) “In Veritate Victoria” — Victory in Truth.

For what it’s worth, the Flat Earth Society doesn’t have an ‘official’ position on climate change.  That falls a bit outside our remit.  Personally, though, I believe the evidence available does support the position that climate change is at least partially influenced by human industrialisation.  So if President Obama wants to reference people that actively deny anthropogenic climate change, he’d probably be better served by citing groups like the American Enterprise Institute rather than the Flat Earth Society.

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