"Denier:" A Remedial Class in Definition

Wed, 2006-12-20 10:31Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

"Denier:" A Remedial Class in Definition

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”?

Previous Comments

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Rex has been a denialist on GW for a long time - see this post on my blog for details: http://www.savekyoto.ca/show.php?ID=2

Oh please. Enough of the Holocaust terms “Denier” and “Denialist”. Rex’s article was excellent. He is a healthy skeptic and a realist.

He also put into words what millions of Canadians think concerning AGW and refuses to be intimidated into silence by the non-consensus alarmists dominating this issue.

I imagine there are some here who believe Rex should be charged with some “crime”, and at the very least, be fired from his job. And I’m sure Exxon is involved in some way. Also, is he on Exxon’s payroll? Regards,

“He also put into words what millions of Canadians think concerning AGW

I doubt whether there is any reliable source for this but even if there were one would have to ascribe higher scientific literacy to Canadians than to humankind in general to give any weight to this argument.

As it stands it gave me a very naughty association with that famous pre-war photo montage with Hitler as the central figure and the text “Millionen stehen hinter mir”(I’ve got millions standing behind me). Behind Hitler one sees part of a human figure with the massiveness that cartoonists in those days ascribed to ‘the Capitalist’. This faceless benefactor slips huge banknotes in Hitler’s right hand that is sticking out at his back in the first stage of performing the ‘Hitler salute’. Oh dear.

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“He also put into words what millions of Canadians think concerning AGW and refuses to be intimidated into silence by the non-consensus alarmists dominating this issue.”

Absolute BS! This is an absolute lie.

Arie, now we are into Hitler references? How did this issue get derailed so badly?

And Stephen, don’t be a denier. ;) Of course millions of Canadians think similarly to what Murphy said on AGW. Try talking to various people. I have, and have found opinions running across the whole spectrum.

Most people consider AGW an issue, similar to Rex’s viewpoint, and most do not subscribe to the alarmist non-concensus scenarios. That may sound like a contradiction but it is not; it is realism. Regards,

“Arie, now we are into Hitler references? How did this issue get derailed so badly?”

Yes, it’s strange, isn’t it, how one can get these associations?

But not as strange, I reckon, as jumping to the conclusion that ‘millions of Canadians’ think similarly to the handful of people one has talked to.

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“Of course millions of Canadians think similarly to what Murphy said on AGW. Try talking to various people. I have, and have found opinions running across the whole spectrum.”

You must have been talking with laymen Albertans who have a stake in the status quo being maintained. I have also spoken with some Albertans and many of them share the same opinion as you simply because they do not have an education in the science of climate change and because they are fed PR crap rather than actual peer-reviewed science in their media.

As for your statement: “alarmist, non-concensus scenarios”, that is a load of bunk. The IPCC’s conclusions represent as close to consensus as anything in science, similar to the consensus that gravity is indeed a force on this planet.

As for your whining about it being “alarmist”, give me a break! The reinsurance industry is very concerned about rapidly rising deaths, injuries, and property damage from increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather and climate events, which have been reported in annual reviews. Check the Swiss-Re and Munich-Re websites for this information.

As well, farmers are having a heck of a time growing their crops as increased severe weather events damages their crops by increased hailstorms, damaging winds, flooding rains, and drought. This in a world with an ever increasing population which is making it even more difficult, if not impossible, to feed the people on this planet.

I’d say this is cause for alarm! Wouldn’t you be alarmed if you were on a train going 100 km/h headed for a brick wall and some people on the train were saying that we should continue with the status quo, even increase speed (i.e. to increase economic growth by tapping into more fossil fuel reserves), with instant chaos looming?

As the great UK video the DeSmogBloggers posted indicated, the time for action is now.

“Instant chaos looming?”

Stephen, can you point me to the peer-reviewed scientific literature which advances the belief that “instant chaos (is) looming”?

And can you inform me of where it is stated that this is the consensus of the world’s climate scientists? Regards,

Paul, haven’t you seen the reports of accelerating Arctic ice melting, glacial melting, chunks of ice the size of Rhode Island and Jamaica breaking off the Larsen B Ice Shelf, and the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro? Do you realise what this means to the world’s fresh water supplies? Do you realise what this will do to sea levels? Now if this isn’t chaos looming, I don’t know what is.

So you don’t have any references to peer-reviewed articles stating the possibility of “instant chaos looming”?

I didn’t think so. Regards,

Well, nothing for the phrase “instant chaos looming”, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of references to likely future events which will be disastrous or calamitous to the planet and to life on the planet. These many reports have been published in “Science” and “Nature”, two of the world’s leading peer-reviewed journals. Just do a Google search for ice cover and climate change in the Arctic and you’ll find hundreds of articles.

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