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.