Thongchai Thailand

CLIMATE DENIALISM BUSTED

Posted on: February 23, 2020

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[LINK TO THE HOME PAGE OF THIS SITE]

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THIS POST IS A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST CLIMATE DENIAL ON THE BIZARRE CULTURE WEBSITE [LINK] WHERE TO QUESTION ANY ASPECT OF THE SCIENCE OF AGW CLIMATE CHANGE IS DEFINED AS “CLIMATE DENIAL

 

PRESENTED BELOW IS THE LIST OF CLAIMS MADE IN THE BIZARRE-CULTURE WEBSITE WITH EACH CLAIM FOLLOWED BY A RESPONSE. 

 

 

CLAIM#1: the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#1: The corresponding amount for AGW climate change research from government research funds alone is estimated by the University of Sussex and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs as $1.64 billion per year or more than 8 times the claimed oil industry funding for climate denial. Additional funds for AGW change from private sources are estimated by Jacob Nordangard [LINK] to exceed the amount claimed to flow from oil companies to climate denialism. These data do not suggest that AGW climate change science is at a disadvantage against climate denialism because of funding of denialism by oil companies.

CLAIM#2: Recent polls suggested over 75% of Americans think humans are causing climate change.  There also seems to be a renewed optimism that we can deal with the crisis. School climate strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests, national governments declaring a climate emergency, improved media coverage of climate change and an increasing number of extreme weather events have all contributed to this shift. These positive developments have driven climate deniers to desperate measures of “Climate Sadism”. Climate Sadism is used to mock young people going on climate protests and to ridicule Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old young woman with Asperger’s, who is simply telling the scientific truth. 

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#2:  If Climate Sadism mocking of young people deployed in climate activism is a bad thing for which we must feel sorry for the plight of these young people, we should surely demand that deniers must stop the mocking and more importantly we must demand that climate activists must cease and desist from this kind of child abuse and child exploitation that places children at risk of Climate Sadism. Children should be allowed to have a childhood and a normal school education and not burdened with climate change issues or scared with climate change holocaust scenarios. It is also noted that the use of extreme weather as reason to oppose climate denialism requires empirical evidence for the attribution of those events to AGW climate change

 

The Bizarre-Culture article says that there are five types of climate denial described as (1) Science Denial, (2) Economic Denial, (3) Humanitarian Denial , (4) Political Denial, and (5) Crisis Denial. We now discuss each of these in turn as a series of five distinct claims. 

CLAIM#3: Science Denial: In Science Denial, deniers say that the science of climate change is not settled, that climate change is just part of the natural cycle, that climate models are unreliable and too sensitive to carbon dioxide. Some suggest that CO₂ is too small a part of the atmosphere to have a large warming effect or that climate scientists are fixing the data to show the climate is changing (a global conspiracy that would take thousands of scientists in more than a 100 countries to pull off)All these arguments are false because there is a clear consensus among scientists about the causes of climate change. The climate models that predict global temperature rises have remained very similar over the last 30 years despite the huge increase in complexity, showing it is a robust outcome of the science. 

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#3: The history of science has progressed through a process of propositions and interpretations of data, their critical evaluation, active and even acrimonious debate, and the resolution of differences by the exchange of ideas and data as seen for example in the resolution of the theory of relativistic gravity described in Nugayev 2014 {Origin and Resolution of the Modern Theory of Gravity, January 1987 Methodology and Science 2014):177-197} where we find deniers of the initial theory of relativistic gravitation challenging the theory and the interpretation of data followed by resolution of the differences with an active exchange of ideas and without any party claiming to God given truth by virtue of their status as scientist. Contentious issues in climate science – as for example the spurious correlation problem [LINK] , should be debated and ideas exchanged until a resolution is found without the need for either side of the debate to claim a unique and singular access to truth by virtue of their description as scientist. 

CLAIM#4: In Economic Denial, deniers propose that climate action is not cost effective although economists say we could fix climate change now by spending 1% of world GDP. But if we don’t act now, by 2050 it could cost over 20% of world GDP. We should also remember that in 2018 the world generated GDP of $86 trillion and every year World GDP grows by 3.5%. So setting aside just 1% to deal with climate change would make little overall difference and would save the world a huge amount of money. What the climate change deniers also forget to tell you is that they are protecting a fossil fuel industry that receives US$5.2 trillion in annual subsidies which includes subsidised supply costs, tax breaks and environmental costs. This amounts to 6% of world GDP. The International Monetary Fund estimates that efficient fossil fuel pricing would lower global carbon emissions by 28%, fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46%, and increase government revenue by 3.8% of the country’s GDP. 

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#4: A sense of Ad hominem runs through this series of claims. Here, individuals whose profession is described as “economist” are considered infallible sources of economic and financial information such that their estimate of the cost of climate action must not be questioned. The reality is very different. In a related post it is described how the 2008 financial crisis in the USA was repeatedly and comically misdiagnosed by economists and their “economic action” programs to resolve the problem such as “Quantitative Easing” and “TARP” had actually made it worse [LINK] . As in the case of climate science described above what is relevant in these disputes is the evaluation of the arguments presented by the two sides and not their professional titles.

 

CLAIM#5: In Humanitarian denial Climate change deniers also argue that climate change is good for us. They suggest longer, warmer summers in the temperate zone will make farming more productive. These gains, however, are often offset by the drier summers and increased frequency of heatwaves in those same areas. For example, the 2010 “Moscow” heatwave killed 11,000 people, devastated the Russian wheat harvest and increased global food prices. Geographical zones of the world. More than 40% of the world’s population lives in the Tropics where from both a human health prospective and an increase in desertification no one wants summer temperatures to rise. Deniers also point out that plants need atmospheric carbon dioxide to grow so having more of it acts like a fertilizer. This is indeed true and the land biosphere has been absorbing about a quarter of our carbon dioxide pollution every year. Another quarter of our emissions is absorbed by the oceans. But losing massive areas of natural vegetation through deforestation and changes in land use completely nullifies this minor fertilization effect. Climate change deniers will tell you that more people die of the cold than heat, so warmer winters will be a good thing. This is deeply misleading. Vulnerable people die of the cold because of poor housing and not being able to afford to heat their homes. Society, not climate, kills them. This argument is also factually incorrect. In the US, for example, heat-related deaths are four times higher than cold-related ones. This may even be an underestimate as many heat-related deaths are recorded by cause of death such as heart failure, stroke, or respiratory failure, all of which are exacerbated by excessive heat. 

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#5: Here the authors make some good points about certain questionable and pointless denialist claims that are common – as for example that higher atmospheric CO2 causes greening and increases agricultural yield and so therefore AGW must be a good thing. A similar argument is that hotter is better than colder because more people die of cold than of heat.

CLAIM#6 Political denial:  Climate change deniers argue we cannot take action because other countries are not taking action. But not all countries are equally guilty of causing current climate change. For example, 25% of the human-produced CO₂ in the atmosphere is generated by the US, another 22% is produced by the EU. Africa produces just under 5%. Given the historic legacy of greenhouse gas pollution, developed countries have an ethical responsibility to lead the way in cutting emissions. But ultimately, all countries need to act because if we want to minimise the effects of climate change then the world must go carbon zero by 2050. Per capita annual carbon dioxide emissions and cumulative country emissions. Deniers will also tell you that there are problems to fix closer to home without bothering with global issues. But many of the solutions to climate change are win-win and will improve the lives of normal people. Switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles, for example, reduces air pollution, which improves people’s overall health. Developing a green economy provides economic benefits and creates jobs. Improving the environment and reforestation provides protection from extreme weather events and can in turn improve food and water security.

 

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#6: Climate change deniers argue we cannot take action because other countries are not taking action. This is of course a weak denialist argument because where all must act to achieve a certain goal there is no room for the discussion of who must act. However, it must be said that this ideal has already been undone by the United Nations which in both the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC segregated the world’s nations into Annex-1, Annex-2, and non-Annex countries with different emission reduction obligations such that non-Annex countries have no emission reduction obligation and when they do cut emissions they can sell that emission reduction in the dysfunctional  carbon credits market described in a related post [LINK] .

 

CLAIM #7 CRISIS DENIAL:  The final piece of climate change denial is the argument that we should not rush into changing things, especially given the uncertainty raised by the other four areas of denial above. Deniers argue that climate change is not as bad as scientists make out. We will be much richer in the future and better able to fix climate change. They also play on our emotions as many of us don’t like change and can feel we are living in the best of times – especially if we are richer or in power. But similarly, hollow arguments were used in the past to delay ending slavery, granting the vote to women, ending colonial rule, ending segregation, decriminalising homosexuality, bolstering worker’s rights and environmental regulations, allowing same-sex marriages and banning smoking. The fundamental question is why are we allowing the people with the most privilege and power to convince us to delay saving our planet from climate change?

 

RESPONSE TO CLAIM#7: The denialist arguments claimed in this section do not sound well thought out and I am not familiar with them as I have not seen them before. As a postscript, I should add that if the author of these claims against denialism is Mark Maslin, whose name appears at the bottom of the linked document above, it should be emphasized that Mark’s work and opinions in AGW climate change can’t be assumed to be unbiased scientific inquiry. In a related post his emotional activism against human activity is described by Mark himself in terms of the Anthropocene [LINK], a concept derived from an extreme and irrational form of environmental activism [LINK]  .

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS:

JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE BAD ARGUMENTS AGAINST AGW CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE DOES NOT MEAN THERE AREN’T ANY GOOD ONES.

WHAT IS CLAIMED TO BE FIVE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CLIMATE DENIERS ARE IN REALITY ONE TYPE OF CLIMATE DENIALIST BUT WITH FIVE DIFFERENT ARGUMENTS AGAINST AGW CLIMATE CHANGE. HOWEVER, IN REALITY, CLIMATE DENIERS ARE NOT A HOMOGENEOUS GROUP THAT CAN BE DESCRIBED IN TERMS OF CERTAIN CHARACTERISTICS, ARGUMENT TYPES, MOTIVATION, OR PURPOSE. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF DENIALISTS MORE DIVERSE THAN THE FIVE TYPES LISTED THAT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN TAKEN FROM THE SAME MOLD. THERE SURELY ARE THOSE WHO HAVE MADE THE WEAK ARGUMENTS HIGHLIGHTED IN THE BIZARRECULTURE ARTICLE. SOME ADDITIONAL WEAK ARGUMENTS PUT FORTH BY THAT GROUP OF DENIALISTS THAT ARE NOT FOUND IN THE BIZARRECULTURE ARTICLE ARE LISTED IN RELATED POSTS ON THIS SITE [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] .

THE EXISTENCE OF THIS GROUP OF DENIALISTS DOES NOT IMPLY THAT THERE ARE NOT CRITICAL EVALUATIONS OF CLIMATE SCIENCE THAT REQUIRE CONSIDERATION AND RESPONSE.  THERE ARE SERIOUS ISSUES IN CLIMATE SCIENCE THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED AND THEY CANNOT BE RESOLVED BY SEEKING OUT WEAKER ARGUMENTS OF CLIMATE DENIALISM THAT CAN BE DISCOUNTED. AS AN EXAMPLE, CONSIDER THE REMAINING CARBON BUDGET ISSUE IN CLIMATE SCIENCE [LINK] .

A SERIOUS ISSUE IN CLIMATE SCIENCE IS THAT ACTIVISM BY CLIMATE SCIENTISTS MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO TAKE THEIR FINDINGS AS A PRODUCT OF UNBIASED SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY BECAUSE IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR A RESEARCHER TO CARRY OUT UNBIASED SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY ON A RESEARCH QUESTION IN WHICH THE RESEARCHER HAS AN ACTIVISM INTEREST THAT FAVORS SOME ANSWERS OVER OTHERS [LINK]  . EMOTIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM BY CLIMATE SCIENTISTS IS APPARENT IN THIS VIDEO. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to "CLIMATE DENIALISM BUSTED"

Some very well made points, but you are altogether too polite to the alarmists!

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