Denial Is Not Refutation

Real Climate (bolding mine):

There is an interesting, if predictable, piece up on the BBC website devoted to investigating whether there is any ‘consensus’ among the various contrarians on why climate change isn’t happening (or if it is, it isn’t caused by human activity or if it is why it won’t be important, or if it is important, why nothing can be done etc.). Bottom line? The only thing they appear to agree about is that nothing should be done, but they have a multitude of conflicting reasons why. Hmm…

The journalist, Richard Black, put together a top 10 list of sceptic arguments he gathered from emailing the 61 signers of a Canadian letter. While these aren’t any different in substance to the ones routinely debunked here (and here and here), this list comes with the imprimatur of Fred Singer – the godfather to the sceptic movement, and recent convert from the view that it’s been cooling since 1940 to the idea that global warming is now unstoppable. Thus these are the arguments (supposedly) that are the best that the contrarians have to put forward.

Alongside each of these talking points, is a counter-point from the mainstream (full disclosure, I helped Richard edit some of those). In truth though, I was a little disappointed at how lame their ‘top 10′ arguments were. In order, they are: false, a cherry pick, a red herring, false, false, false, a red herring, a red herring, false and a strawman. They even used the ‘grapes grew in medieval England’ meme that you’d think they’d have abandoned already given that more grapes are grown in England now than ever before (see here). Another commonplace untruth is the claim that water vapour is ‘98% of the greenhouse effect’ – it’s just not.

Pay attention to the entire post, but notice the bolded bit. It seems amazingly convenient how warming critics shift from outright denial, which serves the fossil fuel interests who fund their movement, to a state of overwhelmed apathy at the sheer magnitude of the problem, which serves the fossil fuel lobby just as well. It analogizes to the seamless transitioning from WMD hysteria to democracy promotion to an overfed sunk costs fallacy, or the kaleidoscope of bogus arguments that fuel creationism. In each case the silliness adds up to a series of disposable and often self-contradictory rationalizations that serve a fixed goal.

At least for Iraq and creationism this movementarian absolutism has an element of self interest to it. Contrariwise the farther you step back from the climate “debate” the less sense it makes. In fact it looks almost exactly like the tobacco “debate” that was really settled some time in the 50’s, but stayed alive for decades after because of a brilliant and blindingly cynical PR campaign by the tobacco lobby. The entire gamut of false front astroturf groups, slanted studies and bogus experts forcing the appearance of a debate comes straight from the tobacco playbook. The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

It seems to me that the sad saga of warming denial illustrates a major weakness of conservative monementarianism. Climate science isn’t really partisan in any meaningful way, yet as long as the movementarians think that attacking the science will score a vctory against liberalism they will go on attacking just the same. All the petro lobby needed to do was polarize a scientific matter along political lines and the rightwing movement willingly became what amounts to the private army for a cause almost completely tangential to their individual interests. Retired tobacco execs look on with a mix of humor and deep jealousy.

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64 replies
  1. 1
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

    Well, when liberals started to address the problem, it became “inherently liberal,” hence right-wing opposition.

    I wish I could say that the above is pure cynicism, but it’s not. It’s definitely cynical, but sadly, I also think it’s at least partially true.

  2. 2
    jenniebee says:

    At least for Iraq and creationism this movementarian absolutism has an element of self interest to it…The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time.

    Oh, no it makes complete sense from an individual self-interest perspective. You see, every time Al Gore “wins,” movement conservatives all die a little inside.

  3. 3
    cleek says:

    Climate science isn’t really partisan in any meaningful way, yet as long as the movementarians think that attacking the science will score a vctory against liberalism they will go on attacking just the same.

    conservatarianism is strongly anti-intellectual and anti-science. those climate change deniers probably include all of the evolution deniers and most of the people who bitch about the “ivory tower elites”, and probably the bulk of the folks who believe that praying will make it rain, too.

  4. 4
    chopper says:

    i love the one about how CO2 lags temperature in the past million years as if that proves anything.

    on another forum some dude who didn’t believe in warming asked how the GH effect worked. i explained it, as well as the orbital dynamics that affects long-term trends in climate, and the whole time i’m thinking how can you steadfastly deny that the globe is warming if you don’t even understand the basics?

    people deny it just for the sake of denial. someday, when they’re finally convinced, they’ll blame ‘liberals’ for their own delay, saying ‘if you liberals hadn’t made it your issue, then people like me wouldn’t have automatically disbelieved it. really, it’s your fault’.

    you just can’t win.

  5. 5
    chopper says:

    The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

    no, but apparently there is something inherently liberal in telling big business and a GOP administration that they’re doing something wrong.

    saying the globe is warming is one thing. saying that the government and business need to take steps to mitigate it, whoa there partner, you’re talkin’ communism. you call it pollution, we call it life(tm).

  6. 6
    Sinister eyebrow says:

    Well, if you call Climate Change a part of broader “Environmentalism”, I think you get your explanation for why convervative movementarians get the vapors over it—Environmentalism is the province of tree-hugging liberals, is anti business, leads to regulation, nanny state rules, deprives people of pickup trucks (free market!) and gas guzzlers, runs counter to the fundamentalist view of “God intended the earth to be the plaything of man” and will end with all red-blooded Americans forced to drive wimpy cars and be vegetarians.

  7. 7
    rawshark says:

    The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time.

    Protecting those who elected them?

  8. 8
    mantis says:

    It’s a combination of brilliance and luck on the part of petro in assembling a “coalition of the willing to distort,” some of which was directed, and some of which self-formed much like the tendency of mercury droplets to coalesce into a pool.

    You have your standard religious (usually young-earth) types who are firm in their stance that any belief that human activity can affect something as large as climate is arrogance against god (and even if it is possible, it’s what god wants anyway). The same folks disbelieved the ozone hole long after it had been proven. You have your energy industry hacks and dupes, whose motivations are obvious. Then you have your anti-environmentalists, who are Nugentesque in their opposition to anything they associate with evil treehugger hippies and their ilk. Then, you have people who just hate Al Gore and think anything he says or believes is the total opposite of the truth. You’ve got your bullheaded contrarians, who will oppose anything the “mainstream” believes, no matter what. Add to all that some genuine, educated, but careless skeptics who allow their doubts about certain smaller details to be presented by the other groups as outright falsifications of the entire theory, and you have a nice little feedback loop going where none of them will acknowledge the falsehood or distorting nature of their claims, and even if they will, will soon forget they ever did and keep making said claims (which get passed on and on and on).

    I’m still undecided whether it is worth fighting this chimera or whether we should simply ignore them until the reality becomes so obvious to the general public (What, Bangladesh is gone?) that they are ridiculed by everyone outside of their shrinking flat-earth clubs.

  9. 9
    les says:

    Don’t discount the wingers’ fear factor–it rules their tiny minds. If global warming is admitted to be real, the black helicopters will be there the next day hauling away their pick-m-ups and SUV’s, and they’ll be subsistence farming in their back yards the day after that.

  10. 10
    Zifnab says:

    The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time.

    Money. Gobs of it. Truckloads of it. Warehouses full of it. To be exact, $40 billion in a single three-month period. An Iraq War’s worth of money.

    Oil greases the palms of so many conservative pundits and politicos that its impossible not to want to defend it. And its the same reason why Republicans oppose so many environmental initiatives. Because clear cutting and mountain top removal and giant landfills and big leaky tankers full of thick black crude bring in shit tons of money that they, the American Aristocracy, get to skim the surface of with big sticky hands every time an Energy Bill or Water Bill or an Environmental Bill comes floating down the pipe.

    Global Warming is about conservation and renewable energy. I still haven’t wrapped my head around why energy companies wouldn’t leap at the opportunity to harness unlimited energy by setting up massive plants in the American Heartland, although I suspect it has something to do with the unreliability of the science and the cost-benefit analysis of sinking a well versus building a big old solar array. But I know exactly why Big Oil hates conservation, and that’s because every gallon of oil that is “saved” means a gallon of oil no one has bought. And that’s a gallon they don’t turn a profit on. And that’s bad.

  11. 11
    D-Chance. says:

    Who’s engaging in “fear factor”s?

    Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

    CATASTROPHE, I tell ya!

    The earth is billions of years old, and God was too short-sighted to create a global thermostat so that 21st century humans could enjoy 72.8 degree comfort 24/7. But if we raise taxes high enough, if we punish the right eeeeeevil industries, if we set up the proper commissions and committees (with the right nannies, er, partisans, er, “experts”)… we can have temperature Utopia! Gee-wilikers, we’ve got a barn, let’s have a dance!

    So when do we send out the first shuttle mission with the big-ass polarized sunglass lenses to block the sun’s rays? It may be hard to fit the rims over us, considering the earth doesn’t have ears to slide them over… Mt Everest may provide a good nose-bridge, though.

  12. 12
    jcricket says:

    It’s the same animus that fuels the antipathy towards any science that doesn’t serve the ends as currently defined by the Republican party. You see it in the way Republicans are wedding themselves to creationists, in their opposition of Plan B and other contraceptives. These are their fundie “base” constituents, and it’s important not to piss them off.

    I’d also say, as I have a thousand times before, it’s psychological projection. Their every move is made from a hyper-partisan, cynical place, so they assume everyone else thinks the same way (including scientists).

    Lastly, they have a vested interest in the destruction of “objectivity”. Because on nearly everything they believe, they are objectively, demonstrably, provably wrong. But if you say the media, scientists, universities, etc. are all liberal partisans, you attempt destroy the idea that their work will disprove your crackpot (read: everything the conservative party believes in, from taxes, to racism, to crime, to birth control) theories.

  13. 13
    Punchy says:

    Rich people can buy a TON of air conditioners, Tim. WTF do they care?

  14. 14
    Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “The earth is billions of years old,”

    True but irrelevant. Next.

  15. 15
    BARRASSO says:

    I saw Janeanne Garafolo a few months ago and she had a theory on modern conservatives, they will object to anything they must put any effort into. If they will have to lift a finger it is a horrible restriction of all the freedoms of mankind. However they have no problem at all taking all the rights away from others as long as they don’t have to do anything or it doesn’t directly effect them. That is a paraphrase.

    I also think that the modern conservative male is so terrified of the world and his total lack of power, he must drive that giant penis extension SUV to prove that he is still manly, that or go hunting some captive birds.

    D-chance what has a greater chance of effecting the average american global warming or terrorism?

  16. 16
    Zifnab says:

    D-chance what has a greater chance of effecting the average american global warming or terrorism?

    As D-Chance doesn’t believe in global warming, I’ve got a good guess. What’s more THEY WANT TO KILL US!

  17. 17
    rawshark says:

    The earth is billions of years old, and God was too short-sighted to create a global thermostat so that 21st century humans could enjoy 72.8 degree comfort 24/7. But if we raise taxes high enough, if we punish the right eeeeeevil industries, if we set up the proper commissions and committees (with the right nannies, er, partisans, er, “experts”)… we can have temperature Utopia! Gee-wilikers, we’ve got a barn, let’s have a dance!

    Is there an argument anywhere in there?

  18. 18
    Tim F. says:

    Is there an argument anywhere in there?

    As far as I can tell he just seconded my point that there there isn’t any coherent reason why rightwingers should reflexively oppose climate science.

  19. 19
    BARRASSO says:

    Oh snap what if the Saudis are using oil to make global warming happen as a terrorist tactic, I think I just shit my pants now I know what it is to be a security conservative!

  20. 20
    Zifnab says:

    As far as I can tell he just seconded my point that there there isn’t any coherent reason why rightwingers should reflexively oppose climate science.

    Dude. Money.

  21. 21
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    While I think your last post was mostly spot on, jcricket, I part company with you on this point:

    Lastly, they have a vested interest in the destruction of “objectivity”.

    Wingers love to promote “objectivity,” because to them, that translates to “God,” and they are, of course, The Most Godliest. Similarly, they see subjectivity as being the dreaded “moral relativism” and the realm of mushy, flip-flopping liberals who can’t see the world for what it is and act accordingly (“acting accordingly,” of course, meaning “agreeing with the wingnuts” because again, wingnuts see themselves as objectively right).

    They’re not really interested in destroying objectivity; they just want to get rid of the parts that demonstrate that they are not the Guardians of All That Is Objectively Good like they think they are. Science is definitely one of those parts.

  22. 22
    binzinerator says:

    I saw that coming a long time ago.

    The strategy of getting what you want by doing nothing — fiddling while Rome burns — is an old strategy for the conservatives. It’s what they’ve used for years to manufacture proof of the divine infallibility of St. Ronnie’s aphorism “government is the problem”.

    It’s really a passive form of sabotage.

    I realy wouldn’t mind it if they and they alone got what’s coming for their greed and arrogant stupidity, but alas, it’s my country and my planet too. The stupid fucks think they’ll just turn up the air conditioning and hire their own disaster response services for their gated community, so why should they worry?

    Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

    I think it’s more that the logical response to the conclusions of climate scientists necessitates government involvement. Global warming, because of its scale, means governments must respond — and must respond effectively if it is to be of any use.

    This kind of action would punch a lethal hole into the conservative political dam behind which the belief that government is supposed to be a problem, not a solution, has been building for years.

    But at a non-political level I believe it is because conservatives are, at their core, authoritarians. As John Dean says, they are “enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, antiequality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian and amoral”.

    It’s got less to do with political ideologies, more with psychology. Authoritarians would hate a government that acts as referee for any thing — if you resent fairness and equality, and relentlessly seek opportunities to control others and stack the deck in your favor by any means possible, you will no doubt deeply resent rules and accountibility that thwart those desires. After all, it’s the energy industry in general and the oil companies in particular we’re talking about — Bush and Cheney let them write our friggin’ energy policy.

    It isn’t only an “I got mine; fuck you” thing. It’s also a demand to have unhindered and unrestricted means to fuck over as many people as possible by any means possible in order to “get theirs”. But they disguise it by making it sound fair by calling it “leveling the playing field”.

    An effective government response to global warming would also strike at what is authoritarian in conservatives. They are so deeply rooted against it precisely because such action would benefit everybody.

  23. 23
    MBunge says:

    “I saw Janeanne Garafolo a few months ago and she had a theory on modern conservatives, they will object to anything they must put any effort into. If they will have to lift a finger it is a horrible restriction of all the freedoms of mankind. However they have no problem at all taking all the rights away from others as long as they don’t have to do anything or it doesn’t directly effect them. That is a paraphrase.

    I also think that the modern conservative male is so terrified of the world and his total lack of power, he must drive that giant penis extension SUV to prove that he is still manly, that or go hunting some captive birds.”

    I think what the Garafalo is getting at is more that conservatives seems to have been emotionally and intellectually stunted sometime in adolescence, and the only way to understand them is to imagine they’re all lazy, self-absorbed, smartass teenagers.

    Mike

  24. 24
    jcricket says:

    They’re not really interested in destroying objectivity; they just want to get rid of the parts that demonstrate that they are not the Guardians of All That Is Objectively Good like they think they are. Science is definitely one of those parts.

    I don’t think we’re actually disagreeing, I just think of objectivity as a word with meaning outside what the Republicans define it as. I guess what I was trying to communicate is what you said, the people Republicans use to argue the “reality” of a situation are never qualified to do so.

    The people that are qualified are discounted in an attempt to make objectivity mean “whatever the latest Republican press release says”.

    They want to destroy the scientific method as the arbiter on scientific discussions, and replace it with political appointees and religious leaders as the arbiters. That’s what’s so pernicious. The “War on Science” book has a bunch of really good stuff on this.

  25. 25
    jcricket says:

    As far as I can tell he just seconded infiniti-ed my point that there there isn’t any coherent reason why rightwingers should reflexively oppose climate science.

    Fixed for mathiness.

  26. 26
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    They want to destroy the scientific method as the arbiter on scientific discussions, and replace it with political appointees and religious leaders as the arbiters. That’s what’s so pernicious.

    OK, I getcha now. I think I was misreading your statements about objectivism in your original post because, yeah, we definitely agree on this.

  27. 27
    rawshark says:

    I think what the Garafalo is getting at is more that conservatives seems to have been emotionally and intellectually stunted sometime in adolescence, and the only way to understand them is to imagine they’re all lazy, self-absorbed, smartass teenagers.

    Are you talking about conservatives or people who don’t really know anything about politics but they call themselves conservative because they think it makes them a part of the cool club? I think you mean the second group. Actual conservatives are rich people who want an american aristocracy. They are born from the Tories you know.

  28. 28
    Dylan says:

    It is well established neo-con methodology to demand a war on something in order to rally the American people into voting for them. Hence the interminable wars on drugs, immigration, crime, terror etc.

    I don’t see why they can’t lever this rationale into a useful end by declaring war on climate change.

  29. 29
    Walker says:

    The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

    Republicans don’t believe in, and certainly do not like paying for, externalities. They want to pollute for free.

  30. 30
    GeneJockey says:

    The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?

    They think it’s a gigantic hoax designed by all us dirty Commies to destroy Capitalism. I mean, they REALLY BELIEVE THAT.

  31. 31
    Peter Johnson says:

    The earth is billions of years old, and God was too short-sighted to create a global thermostat so that 21st century humans could enjoy 72.8 degree comfort 24/7. But if we raise taxes high enough, if we punish the right eeeeeevil industries, if we set up the proper commissions and committees (with the right nannies, er, partisans, er, “experts”)… we can have temperature Utopia! Gee-wilikers, we’ve got a barn, let’s have a dance!

    I’m afraid that’s not far off from what we hear from a lot of the commenters here on this subject. Living in a pretty cold climate, it’s hard for me to see how a few degrees increase is going to do much harm.

    And then there’s stuff like this, if you’re actually interested at all in fact:

    If the Earth was laboring under an accelerated greenhouse effect caused by human produced CO2, the troposphere (the layer of the earth’s atmosphere roughly 10-15km above us) should heat up faster than the surface of the planet, but data collected from satellites and weather balloons doesn’t support this fundamental presumption.

  32. 32
    jcricket says:

    Living in a pretty cold climate, it’s hard for me to see how a few degrees increase is going to do much harm.

    Bad, bad spoof.

  33. 33
    canuckistani says:

    Hippies care about the environment. Dirty, smelly hippies. So obviously it’s the duty of every conservative to oppose them. HIPPIES, DAMMIT!

  34. 34
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    The “War on Science” book has a bunch of really good stuff on this.

    But wait, it’s the Democrats who are waging war on science! Really!

  35. 35
    Tayi says:

    I think a lot of people actually oppose doing something about global warming because if the world goes to pieces it means Jesus is Coming Back Soon. Seriously. Natural disasters are supposed to be harbingers of the apocalypse, so even those who wouldn’t advocate actually trying to accelerate climate change in order to magic Jesus back sooner do see the situation as inevitable and not particularly frightening.

    And before you scoff at this viewpoint as being too crazy for public consumption, consider that our President considers himself an evangelical Christian. Millenialism is an infection, but it’s a common one.

  36. 36
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    It seems amazingly convenient how warming critics shift from outright denial, which serves the fossil fuel interests who fund their movement, to a state of overwhelmed apathy at the sheer magnitude of the problem, which serves the fossil fuel lobby just as well.

    First, the “fossil fuel funds their movement” meme is just as meritless as “they’re only in it for the sweet, sweet grant money.”

    Also, as even a cursory reading would’ve revealed, that Singer speech was nothing about the overwhelming magnitude of AGW, but of the “unstoppable” natural climate cycle. So you’re addressing a “shift” that never occurred.

    Climate science isn’t really partisan in any meaningful way

    If the recommended remedy for global warming was for everyone to drink a glass of wine per day, you’d be right. However, anti-US boondoggles like Kyoto have been represented to be real “solutions,” and this pits the anti-UN, pro-big-business sector (generally, Republicans) against the pro-UN, environmentalist, wealth-redistribution sector (generally, Democrats). Both sides knew that Kyoto would do nothing about global warming, but US businesses were going to lose money, which made one sector happy and the other one, not so much.

    As for the nonpartisan nature of the issue, I’d also address the Leftist Elites, who decry global warming while flying private jets and consuming 20X more energy than they “should.” Obviously, their action prove that they care little about CO2 emissions, so why would they jump this particular bandwagon, except on purely partisan grounds?

  37. 37
    MFB says:

    The previous poster completely exemplifies what is wrong with the right-wing denialism about global warming; it is factually incorrect, incoherently jingoistic, trivialisingly partisan and dishonest.

    Point is, assuming that global warming is a real danger (which virtually no relevant scientist denies is at least a possibility) then we ought to do something about it for fear of what might happen. But right-wing denialists do not want to do anything (partly because they are paid not to, but also because it appeals to a false sense of superiority — “I am cleverer and more honest than you hippie moonbats!!”), therefore pretend that everyone supporting action is wrong, and move from this to pretending that the science is wrong, too.

    Note that the previous poster is quite right in criticising the Kyoto Protocol, but the reason for criticising it is actually that it amounts to only a small fraction of what needs to be done. Whereas the previous poster actually wants to do nothing at all, in the hope that he has a powerful enough air-conditioner in his SUV to keep global warming out.

  38. 38
    Person of Choler says:

    chopper Says: “i love the one about how CO2 lags temperature in the past million years as if that proves anything.”

    I don’t know what it proves but, if CO2 increases lag temperature increases, it makes me wonder why lowering CO2 levels will stop warming.

    Unless, of course, CO2 is endowed with the property of retroactive causation.

  39. 39
    Barry says:

    “I don’t know what it proves but, if CO2 increases lag temperature increases, it makes me wonder why lowering CO2 levels will stop warming.”

    Perhaps I can’t read English any more, but I interpret ‘CO2 increases lag temperature increases’ to mean that ‘CO2 levels increase (decrease), and then temperatures increase (decrease)’. Which is what would be expected, in a system with mucho thermal mass.

  40. 40
    Person of Choler says:

    Barry, I think the research alluded to found that CO2 increases sometimes follow temperature increases, rather than precede them.

    If event “A” happens after event “B”, it is hard to understand how “A” can cause “B” mucho mass notwithstanding.

  41. 41
    chopper says:

    chopper Says: “i love the one about how CO2 lags temperature in the past million years as if that proves anything.”

    I don’t know what it proves but, if CO2 increases lag temperature increases, it makes me wonder why lowering CO2 levels will stop warming.

    Unless, of course, CO2 is endowed with the property of retroactive causation.

    the problem is, you’re confusing natural one process with another. this is typical in the denier movement.

    if you look at the past million years, you see an inexorably slow rise and fall in temperature followed by a similarly inexorably slow rise and fall in CO2. this is due to a slow change in the amount of solar insolation at the earth’s surface due to orbital dynamics. the earth’s tilt changes over time in slow cycles, so does the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. this causes the earth to heat up which releases CO2 from water ice and the oceans, creating a feedback loop which leads to more warming.

    the rise in temperatures we’re seeing now isn’t due to orbital dynamics. not only are we not at a point in the cycle where insolation is going up, but temperatures are rising faster than these cycles explain.

    the cycle of rising temperature due to insolation leading CO2 is not what is causing warming here. it’s simple chemistry that CO2 causes warming, and we’ve added lots of CO2 to the atmosphere. two different processes.

  42. 42
    Abe Froman says:

    It is well established neo-con methodology to demand a war on something in order to rally the American people into voting for them. Hence the interminable wars on drugs, immigration, crime, terror etc.

    I don’t see why they can’t lever this rationale into a useful end by declaring war on climate change.

    Because the war on drugs, immigration , crime, and terror have gone so well……

  43. 43
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    The previous poster completely exemplifies what is wrong with the right-wing denialism about global warming; it is factually incorrect, incoherently jingoistic, trivialisingly partisan and dishonest.

    Me? Really? ‘Cause all I said was that it’s an understandably partisan issue, and why. You seem to be proving me right, what with the “right-wing denialism” rant. You can call names all you want, but you didn’t back any of it up with your cartoonish post.

    Point is, assuming that global warming is a real danger (which virtually no relevant scientist denies is at least a possibility) then we ought to do something about it for fear of what might happen.

    So because the scientists that you believe are “relevant” say it is “possible” that warming might cause a “danger,” we ought to “do something.” Out of “fear.” Wow. Compelling. And not at all jingoistic, or fear-mongering, or trivial!

    Hey, admittedly, I don’t believe that the loudest of the CAGW hysterics are believable (they’ve been caught pants-down too often)… and yet I ride my bike to work most days, leave the SUV in the garage during the week, have all the cool twirly lightbulbs and consume 1/50th the energy of Al Gore, John Travolta, or John Edwards. So who’s “doing something,” and who’s just yapping?

    Whereas the previous poster actually wants to do nothing at all, in the hope that he has a powerful enough air-conditioner in his SUV to keep global warming out.

    Well, that’s “factually incorrect, incoherently jingoistic, trivialisingly partisan and dishonest.” Probably not what you were trying to prove.

  44. 44
    jrg says:

    I’d also address the Leftist Elites, who decry global warming while flying private jets and consuming 20X more energy than they “should.”

    There was a great piece about this on Fox news the other day. They had a video clip of Al Gore getting off an airplane.

    That’s when it hit me. None of this “climate change” stuff really matters because Al Gore’s job description requires him to fly.

    Besides, it’s not like he buys carbon offsets or anything.

    Both sides knew that Kyoto would do nothing about global warming, but US businesses were going to lose money, which made one sector happy and the other one, not so much.

    Because it’s inconceivable that international agreements to deal with climate change are meant to deal with climate change. I know this because my tin foil hat keeps out the George Soros mind control rays.

    Besides, even if global warming is real (like most of the international Democrat scientists say), It will be their fault because they warned us, and they want to be correct for having warned us, just like the dirty hippies did when they warned us about occupying Iraq.

    The previous poster completely exemplifies what is wrong with the right-wing denialism about global warming; it is factually incorrect, incoherently jingoistic, trivialisingly partisan and dishonest.

    It only seems that way to you because you don’t have your head up your ass.

    The first class that Democrat “scientists” take in college is “Introduction to Climate Science: how to Destroy America and Make Baby Jesus Cry”.

    Scientists actually study science because they are interested in politics. Duh.

  45. 45
    rawshark says:

    Both sides knew that Kyoto would do nothing about global warming, but US businesses were going to lose money, which made one sector happy and the other one, not so much.

    but the one side that was unhappy didn’t say they were unhappy because they would lose money, they said there was no issue. They said the other side is making shit up. They said the other side has an agenda. They said, they said, they said….
    Considering you had to toss the dig about one side being happy US businesses would lose money I feel safe assuming you agree with the tactics of the right. If the people won’t stand with you based on the facts of the situation, change the facts. Denying global warming because it would effect some industries won’t be nearly as successful a strategy as saying the issue is a myth perpetrated by the america hating leftwing, right?

  46. 46
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    None of this “climate change” stuff really matters because Al Gore’s job description requires him to fly.

    Has an “argument” ever been offered in worse faith than this one? Yeesh. And Al Gore has a job description? That requires him to fly in private jets? Or else, what — he gets fired? Is he a test pilot now? BTW, you really don’t want to talk about Gore’s “carbon offsets,” do you? I guarantee you won’t like that discussion.

    Because it’s inconceivable that international agreements to deal with climate change are meant to deal with climate change. I know this because my tin foil hat keeps out the George Soros mind control rays.

    Whatever. As I said, it’s inconceivable that Kyoto specifically could’ve “dealt with” climate change in any meaningful way. Anyone who read the first two pages of the thing should’ve known that.

    You’re not very good at the whole spoof thing, either.

  47. 47
    jrg says:

    And Al Gore has a job description?

    He’s a politician and activist. Can you find an example of a modern American politician who has never ridden in an airplane?

    You’re not very good at the whole spoof thing, either.

    It’s pretty hard to spoof someone who thinks that international scientists are pushing for action on climate change because they want to damage America’s economy.

    Your argument is moronic. It’s a hard point of view to spoof because it can’t be dumbed down much further.

  48. 48
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    but the one side that was unhappy didn’t say they were unhappy because they would lose money, they said there was no issue.

    Were you asleep in the late 90’s? Of course, almost every US Kyoto-rejector said that the costs were over-punitive and exorbitant! Even the Democrats in the Senate unanimously voted to reject Kyoto, largely because the sense was that the accord “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States,” as the Resolution put it.

    Some also argued the premise of catastrophic warming. And some argued that Kyoto would do virtually nothing about CO2 emissions (and, of course, the countries that did implement the Kyoto protocols have shown us that this criticism was correct). The three arguments are entirely exclusive.

  49. 49
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    Can you find an example of a modern American politician who has never ridden in an airplane?

    I also can’t name another one who’s made a movie trying to frighten people into thinking that New York and Florida will flood away because of burning fossil fuels, either.

    And why do you keep leaving out that it’s a private jet? Does it hurt your pretend-argument too much?

    Hey, I also can’t name a modern American businessman who has never ridden in an airplane! Or a modern salesman! Or a modern lawyer. Or a modern doctor. Or a modern teacher. Or a modern student. Or a modern plumber. Or a modern pilot.

    Man, we’re excluding a lot of people from having to care about global warming, aren’t we? Pretty soon, we’ll be down to just the minimum-wage workers who have to change their behavior. After all, everyone else’s job description requires them to fly!

    Private jets for everybody!

  50. 50
    rawshark says:

    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop Says:

    but the one side that was unhappy didn’t say they were unhappy because they would lose money, they said there was no issue.

    Were you asleep in the late 90’s? Of course, almost every US Kyoto-rejector said that the costs were over-punitive and exorbitant! Even the Democrats in the Senate unanimously voted to reject Kyoto, largely because the sense was that the accord “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States,” as the Resolution put it.

    Right. Like I said that strategy doesn’t (and of course didn’t) work so you try one that does work. Say the whole issue is a fabrication of america hating leftists with an agenda. That gets the Fox-News-right-wing-radio crowd on your side of the issue. Now you can pretend it doesn’t exist. If you just said Kyoto doesn’t make enough of a difference people would still think something needed to be done.

  51. 51
    jrg says:

    Private jets for everybody!

    Tell you what… I’ll keep driving a fuel efficient car, riding my bike, telecommuting, and saving energy around the house whenever possible. In other words, I’ll keep conserving.

    You can keep dragging Al Gore into the discussion about global warming (as if his behavior is even relevant), and charging climate scientists with being anti-American.

    You and the Republican party are on record as global warming deniers who have no interest in reducing consumption of middle eastern oil. Thankfully, most voters are waking up to the fact that neither position is held in the best interest of the American people.

  52. 52
    Konservative thinker says:

    Global Warming can’t be real.

    It was cold last night;I woke up & had to
    get a heavier blanket.

    That proves GW is fake.

  53. 53
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    Right. Like I said that strategy doesn’t (and of course didn’t) work so you try one that does work.

    Didn’t work? Because….we ratified Kyoto? Sorry, but that “strategy” worked perfectly. 95-0 in the Senate. We never accepted Kyoto, even after Democrats pretended that they were for it for partisan gain (because Bush was against it) after Clinton left office.

    And good thing we didn’t. Ask Canada (CO2 emissions UP 30% since ratification) or Japan what great deal Kyoto is.

  54. 54
    Ellison, Ellensburg, Ellers, and Lambchop says:

    You can keep dragging Al Gore into the discussion about global warming (as if his behavior is even relevant), and charging climate scientists with being anti-American.

    Strawman for sale!

    Look, Al Gore (who is somehow “irrelevant” despite his fellow travelers showering him with awards) is a hypocritical, disingenuous, opportunistic douchebag — that is without argument — but he only contributes a very small part to my skepticism of the Chicken Little crowd.

    You and the Republican party are on record as global warming deniers who have no interest in reducing consumption of middle eastern oil.

    You don’t read very well.

  55. 55
    mark says:

    Just back in the 1970’s top scientists were stating that the earth is cooling and another ICE AGE is on the way. Now, it’s popular to say the earth is warming, but who are we to know since our data goes back…how long? I heard from a recent report that the Sun is actually HOTTER than it was 20 yrs ago. Could that be a possibility? I don’t deny that Earth has been getting warmer, I just question that it’s caused my humans. Let’s chat in 2030 and I bet the next ICE AGE is around the corner and Al Gore’s son will be preaching to burn more fossil fuels!!!

  56. 56
    joe says:

    I think the deniers on this thread make their motives very clear.

    Liberalism is able to formulate a set of policies to address the problem, and conservatism is not.

    If people recognize that there really is a problem, as they are, they are going to expect their political leaders to come forward with solutions, as they are.

    And the conservatives cannot hope to compete.

  57. 57
    cugel says:

    chopper Says: “i love the one about how CO2 lags temperature in the past million years as if that proves anything.”

    I don’t know what it proves but, if CO2 increases lag temperature increases, it makes me wonder why lowering CO2 levels will stop warming.

    Unless, of course, CO2 is endowed with the property of retroactive causation.

    Lowering CO2 levels stops global warming the same way stopping drinking shots of Tequila leads to sobriety! The idiot who drank 2 more shots in the last 20 minutes isn’t suddenly going to sober up, but at some point he has to stop drinking and then WAIT to sober up.

    And the right-wing nut jobs who deny global warming science or complain about “democrat scientists” are like some drunk at the bar who says “Clearly it doesn’t work! I haven’t had a drink for the past half-hour and I’m still not sober, so why would I stop drinking?”

    It’s just the fault of those damn “abstensionists” who are telling me to stop drinking in order to save my liver. My freedom requires me to have 15 shots a night! You’re infringing on my freedom!

  58. 58
    Baudolino says:

    “Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe?”

    No, but there’s something inherently liberal (or, at least,
    non-libertarian) about admitting that we face a problem,
    any problem, that will require collective action to solve. The invisible hand just isn’t going to cut it. So, since every problem is best solved by individuals acting in their own selfish interests (ex hypothesi), any crisis that actually demands collective social action must be a hoax.

  59. 59
    jrg says:

    Look, Al Gore (who is somehow “irrelevant” despite his fellow travelers showering him with awards) is a hypocritical, disingenuous, opportunistic douchebag—that is without argument—but he only contributes a very small part to my skepticism of the Chicken Little crowd.

    Which is exactly my point. You are not basing your criticism of GW on science, you’re basing it on your hatred for Al Gore.

    You don’t read very well.

    Because refusing to do something about GW and outright denial of GW is such an important distinction.

  60. 60
    Person of Choler says:

    Well, Cugel, you must be right. The irrefutable logic of the Tequila / CO2 equivalence analogy and your concise and lucid presentation of it removes any lingering doubts that I may have had about global warming.

    I am now a recovering denialist.

    Thank you for showing me the light.

  61. 61

    […] The question was asked yesterday why conservatives deny global warming.  To help answer the question, readers were pointed to an interesting piece over at Balloon Juice hypothesizing that the energy industry has blockaded the sunlight of truth, as it were, in a fashion similar to that done by the tobacco industry decades earlier.  In that post, Tim F. correctly noted that science is really non-partisan, and that confronting and averting disaster should be in everyone’s best interests, including that of conservatives: The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe? […]

  62. 62
  63. 63
    Brachiator says:

    The problem for me is that it seems to be part of human nature for some people to look for, to hope for, or to desperately cling to the idea of a looming catastrophe that threatens human existence. Religious zealots work a variation on this theme by looking on storms, plagues, and outbreaks of disease as evidence of a displeased deity. Some environmental zealots have always seized on various predictions of catastrophe in order to justify their fear of the future and their desire to impose their will on everybody else. Their solutions typically entail rolling back technology, reducing the population, and universally adopting drastic lifestyle changes that sacrifice human happiness in order to protect or save the planet.

    The enviro-zealots’ proposed solution is the mirror image of an evangelicals insistence that if only we all embraced the baby Jesus, got married, and suppressed teh gays, then the world would automatically become a happy place. The enviro-zealots analog for this is the idea that if only EVERYONE adopted the same pre-approved package of renewable, sustainable, and ecologically-friendly earth-first proposals, then mother Earth would be happy and love us all up forever.

    The science to me is very persuasive that global climate change is real and that human activity contributes significantly to it. But strangely, the perception has shifted from the view that even the worst case climate change scenario would see a mix of positive and negative effects (see Greg Easterbrook’s article “Global Warming: Who Wins and Who Loses” in the April 2007 Atlantic Monthly) to the current insistence that unchecked global warming will unleash a catastrophe of biblical proportions, complete with human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

    You even have some goober named Kurt Campbell, insisting on the New York Times Opinion blog that climate change will alter the “natural order of the planet,” a quasi-religious notion that is absolutely meaningless (Avoiding Climate Change: Why Americans Prevaricate and Delay on Taking Action,” November 13, 2007).

    Then there is the little thing about how some want to use science to get everyone to accept global warming, and then want to shout “to hell with science” in coming up with supposed solutions to global warming. For example, the New Scientist link notes that “A simplified summary is that about 50% of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, 25% due to clouds, 20% to CO2, with other gases accounting for the remainder.” It also notes that currently the science suggests that the effects of water vapor dissipate after a few days. The climate change models currently account for water vapor, but I have not seen anywhere that the models account for a scenario in which every car and truck is replaced by a hydrogen vehicle which spews water vapor. But this kind of blindness is inevitable with people whose pre-packaged solutions reject anything that smacks of fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

  64. 64

    […] Great observations by John Cole: At least for Iraq and creationism this movementarian absolutism has an element of self interest to it. Contrariwise the farther you step back from the climate “debate” the less sense it makes. In fact it looks almost exactly like the tobacco “debate” that was really settled some time in the 50’s, but stayed alive for decades after because of a brilliant and blindingly cynical PR campaign by the tobacco lobby. The entire gamut of false front astroturf groups, slanted studies and bogus experts forcing the appearance of a debate comes straight from the tobacco playbook. The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe? […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Great observations by John Cole: At least for Iraq and creationism this movementarian absolutism has an element of self interest to it. Contrariwise the farther you step back from the climate “debate” the less sense it makes. In fact it looks almost exactly like the tobacco “debate” that was really settled some time in the 50’s, but stayed alive for decades after because of a brilliant and blindingly cynical PR campaign by the tobacco lobby. The entire gamut of false front astroturf groups, slanted studies and bogus experts forcing the appearance of a debate comes straight from the tobacco playbook. The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe? […]

  2. […] The question was asked yesterday why conservatives deny global warming.  To help answer the question, readers were pointed to an interesting piece over at Balloon Juice hypothesizing that the energy industry has blockaded the sunlight of truth, as it were, in a fashion similar to that done by the tobacco industry decades earlier.  In that post, Tim F. correctly noted that science is really non-partisan, and that confronting and averting disaster should be in everyone’s best interests, including that of conservatives: The only question is why the right wing felt such a compelling need to get behind it this time. Is there something inherently liberal about avoiding catastrophe? […]

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