Having taken a break from the wierd, dangerous and expensive weather plaguing Vancouver of late, I missed my Globe and Mail last week and was nearly spared reading Rex Murphy's most recent argument in favour of climate change confusion.
Murphy begins by bemoaning what he characterizes as the Holocaust implications of the term “denier,” especially as it applies to people who deny climate change. I have to agree that some of the climate change rhetoric is offensive.
Here's the problem: climate change deniers would like to style themselves “skeptics,” which implies a degree of openmindedness and an appetite for impartial scrutiny. Yet they spurn the opportunity to scrutinize the overwhelming evidence on the subject, cleaving instead to an increasingly tenuous hope that anthropogenic climate change is some sort of pseudo-scientific hokum. This is decidedly not an issue in which people are being skeptical of a relative unknown. It's a case of people denying the considered (and evidence-based) conclusion of the biggest and most accomplished group of scientists ever assembled to tackle a single issue.
So, Rex, you're the wordsmith: what can we call these people? What word or phrase can we use that is accurate but does not suggest that they live in a state of denial about climate change?
Murphy goes on to laud the notion of true scientific inquiry - inquiry that is untainted by opinion, preconception or, presumably, the confusing effect of vast amounts of fossil-fuel funding - and he concludes with this rhetorical flourish:
“Who will undertake the difficult task of sifting the real science from the alarmist advocacy, who will draw the boundaries between climate activism and cold analysis, who will present a statement of the case, as close as reason and science today can make it, to what we actually know and can reasonably project on the basis of what we know?”
How about the Royal Society? How about the U.S. National Academies of Science? How about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? How about President George W. Bush's own blue-ribbon panel on climate change? They have all sifted the “real science” and they have all agreed that humans are changing the earth's climate in a way that is unprecedented in at least 650,000 years.
The remaining question, the one that leaves us foundering with problematic descriptions, is this: in the face of global accord among the world's top climate scientists, how can Rex Murphy deny “what we actually know and can reasonably project on the basis of what we know”?