Yet again: climate scepticism is founded on facts, not faithRichard Treadgold | April 8, 2012
Scepticism is not a psychological disorder, you morons
Though climate alarmists have claimed for several years that evidence for dangerous man-made global warming is “overwhelming”, it’s actually becoming harder and harder to find.
Thus it has instead become fashionable among climate alarmists to ignore what climate sceptics say and to discredit them with pseudo-psychological, ethical or moral inventions to explain why they say it. Anything but actually address what they say. Here are five examples. At the end are four facts that explain why climate scepticism arises spontaneously around the world — even without oil money.
Talking Climate is a UK-based partnership between the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) and the ‘Climate change as complex social issue’ research group at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, Nottingham University. That’s a coalition of two charities and a university.
The Talking Climate web site has an article asking Why are people still sceptical about climate change? that explains:
It is natural to assume that if people do not accept the science of climate change, it is because they do not understand it, or perhaps need to know more about it…
But while dispelling myths about climate change is a valuable public service to offer, the truth about climate scepticism is that it is not just a dispute over the science. Accurate factual information has been available for anyone who has wanted to find it for a long time. And still some people say they are unconvinced that climate change is actually happening – or express more uncertainty than scientists do about the seriousness of the problem.
There’s a possibility they don’t mention: that certain facts raise genuine questions about the so-called “science of climate change.”
Kari Norgaard is Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. She presented a paper at the London “Planet Under Pressure” conference held at the end of March. An incautious press release about her paper caused a storm in the blogosphere when climate sceptics thought her to be saying their inability to accept climate change meant they were sick and needed treatment.
It was a storm in a teacup, based on a misunderstanding, because Norgaard didn’t use the words “treatment” or “sick”. But what she did say was:
“This kind of cultural resistance to very significant social threat is something that we would expect in any society facing a massive threat” … The discussion, she said, is comparable to what happened with challenges to racism or slavery in the U.S. South.
This is worse than calling sceptics “sick”. Being sick is beyond one’s control, but she compares them with voluntarily being slavers and racists. This detached, academic designation of hideous appellations is truly revolting.
Adam Corner, in the Guardian last week, claimed:
… a decade of social science research on public attitudes shows that in fact, scepticism about climate change is not primarily due to a misunderstanding of “the science”.
Corner explains why sceptics don’t “believe”:
… in studies that have asked who is sceptical about climate change and why, we find not a story about scientific ignorance, but a link between social attitudes, cultural beliefs and climate change scepticism.
… free market and fossil-fuel industry lobbyists have shamelessly acted as “merchants of doubt,” exaggerating the level of uncertainty about climate change, or downplaying its importance.
Without belief in climate change, scientific evidence simply bounces off. And it is social views and cultural beliefs that predict climate change denial, not people’s level of knowledge about climate science.
This is shameless anti-science propaganda. For their reasons are spurious and there is actually good evidence to question the so-called “consensus” view of dangerous global warming.
Just two days ago Professor Jim Hansen was mentioned in the Guardian ahead of receiving the Edinburgh Medal for his contribution to science. He’s reported as saying:
“We’re handing future generations a climate system which is potentially out of their control.”
No, it’s not potentially out of control, it’s actually out of control. This pathetic activist is deep in delusion. Jim, listen: the emperor has no clothes!
If I claim that we control the climate of this enormous planet my friends will laugh at me. Have his friends all left him? But there’s more.
Hansen told the Guardian that the latest climate models had shown the planet was on the brink of an emergency. He said humanity faces repeated natural disasters from extreme weather events which would affect large areas of the planet.
But immediately he forgets about only being on the brink and says: “We’re in an emergency.” Make up your mind, Jim.
Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery.
So it’s a moral issue now? Not a scientific one? Sure it’s not pseudo-scientific? Or is it pseudo-moral?
He’s promoting a global “carbon tax”. Let’s wish him luck with that. All the countries of the world couldn’t agree even on Kyoto, which is passing into history still unfulfilled. China and India have said they’re not interested in paying any taxes or reducing their people’s access to the abundant energy that fuelled the rapid industrialisation of the West.
Yet without those huge emitters, no meaningful reduction in human emissions will be possible. Forget it, Jim, it’s a hopeless task. But look on the bright side: there’s been no global warming for 15 years now. Maybe things are looking better. Maybe the world is cooling and your 1988 forecasts were dead wrong.
Ahead of a conference in 2009 on the psychology of climate change denial, Brendan O’Neill at Spiked online said green authoritarians, in a real-life Orwellian nightmare, are treating debate as a disorder. He explains:
A few months ago, for a joke, I set up a Facebook group called ‘Climate change denial is a mental disorder.’ It’s a satirical campaigning hub for people who think that climate change denial should be recognised as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association…
The idea that ‘climate change denial’ is a psychological disorder – the product of a spiteful, willful or simply in-built neural inability to face up to the catastrophe of global warming – is becoming more and more popular amongst green-leaning activists and academics. And nothing better sums up the elitism and authoritarianism of the environmentalist lobby than its psychologisation of dissent. The labelling of any criticism of the politics of global warming, first as ‘denial’, and now as evidence of mass psychological instability, is an attempt to write off all critics and sceptics as deranged, and to lay the ground for inevitable authoritarian solutions to the problem of climate change. Historically, only the most illiberal and misanthropic regimes have treated disagreement and debate as signs of mental ill-health.
Those ready to discount the effects in society of these extreme views should seriously admit of the possibility that our entirely reasonable sceptical view of climate science could quite soon get us admitted to a treatment facility. It’s already possible, in Britain, to be jailed for 56 days just for insulting someone.
Some common extremist tactics
A common straw-man argument is that some people disagree that climate change is occurring. It’s easy to show it is occurring (because it is), so there is some faulty psychology involved in the disagreement — we shall examine it — perhaps they have a sickness? But most sceptics agree both that climate change (or global warming) has been occurring and that there must be a human component to it — what they question is the magnitude of the warming, the size of the human contribution and the modelled forecasts of dangerous future warming.
Warmists go around with blinkers on, mischaracterising the dispute only because they cannot answer awkward questions about the climate.
Another source of confusion is to conflate “climate change” with “dangerous man-made global warming.” That commingling began in the 1992 founding document of the UNFCCC (the governing body of the IPCC), which deceptively jumbles them up (on purpose) by defining climate change as:
“a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”
Notice that to show climate change you only have to “attribute” a change to human activity, regardless of the truth, and even “indirectly”, whatever that means. So far nobody has measured the human contribution to global warming. The best the IPCC can say is that it’s “likely” we’re influencing the climate. How underwhelming. On this meagre evidence, they want us to spend trillions to fix it. Yet we don’t even know the size of the problem.
The deception has been totally successful, because mentioning climate change makes people think about dangerous man-made global warming, not natural climate variability. It was clever, it took a few years, but it worked.
The thoughtful among us might consider that it only works because many, many people don’t reason clearly. Or, to be charitable, perhaps some of them couldn’t spare the time to study a bit of climate science for themselves and instead they trust leading scientists.
However, facts are facts
Here are four verifiable statements justifying a healthy scepticism towards the theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming. Some say they blow the ill-defined AGW theory out of the water; I’m one of them.
- Data from real-world observations of global warming and cooling since the post-WWII industrial boom clearly show that carbon dioxide is not a major determinant of global temperature.
- There is no real-world data proving that increases of atmospheric CO2 will lead to dangerous global warming.
- The cost:benefit ratio of ETS policies is simply absurd. The cost is billions per year for a theoretical and insignificant cooling of less than 0.0001 °C by 2100.
- The IPCC, from whom the NZ government takes its advice, is now discredited (McLean, La Framboise). They provide ample evidence that the IPCC system as it stands cannot be relied on.
If anyone disputes these simple facts, feel free to refute them.