You Must Be Ignorant or Dishonest to Dismiss Climate Change

There are for the most part three types of people who don’t accept climate change: dishonest people, ignorant people, and dishonest ignorant people. In all of the times someone has argued with me against climate change, they’re almost always in one of these categories (usually the last one).

Did NASA “fudge” the numbers? Well no, they didn’t. Regardless, that wouldn’t explain why the rest of the pile of evidence from independent research from the UK, Japan, Denmark, and every other science-producing nation point in the same direction. Are they all part of this conspiracy to “fudge” numbers? I can think of few more absurd conspiracy theories.

So let us unpack this “fudge the numbers” claim. What actually happened was that Goddard (where NASA gets its temperature data) had drastically different temperature results than most other countries. Berkeley scientist Zeke Hausfather explained that this was because Goddard’s measuring stations were often in completely different locations between measurements, and these measurements were not even taken at the same time of day (Hausfather, 2014). Blunders like that done over eightyish years skewed the results. This wasn’t some conspiracy by liberals to deceive the public. The process was transparent and perfectly understandable, and it showed why multi-nation projects are important if one nation gets strange results.

Moving along, deniers of climate change like to ad hominem good scientists like Michael Mann (Mann, Bradley, & Hughes, 1998), Naomi Oreskes (Oreskes, 2004), and James Hansen (Hansen et al., 1988), thinking they can justify climate denial by inventing mole-hills to dismiss the mountains of evidence those scientists have produced. All the while, they are oblivious that they would actually have to dismiss thousands and thousands more scientists in order to really justify climate denial (e.g., A. Muller, Rohde, Jacobsen, Muller, & Wickham, 2013; Christy & Spencer, 2019; Marcott, Shakun, Clark, & Mix, 2013; Mears & Wentz, 2017; Met Office Hadley Centre, n.d.; Santer et al., 2017; Stenhouse et al., 2014; Tokyo Climate Center, 2019; Verheggen et al., 2014; Wahl & Ammann, 2007). In fact, there wouldn’t be many climate scientists left to accept if they dismissed all the ones whose research confirms AGW.

“But Al Gore!” Al Gore is not a scientist, and he has no peer-reviewed papers on climate change; anything he said is completely irrelevant to whether or not climate change is real and human-caused.

“Climate change won’t cause the apocalypse!” I never said it would. My position is that the average global temperature is increasing, fossil-fuel burning by humans is the primary driver of the last 200 years’ warming, and the economic and ecological costs of this warming warrants admitting it is true and taking reasonable steps towards its mitigation. Believing that you can justify tar and feathering this reasonable position by
pointing to people who say the world will end in 12 years because of climate
change is a terrible, dishonest, fallacious argument. People who don’t accept climate change aren’t “skeptics,” they are delusional. Skeptics are interested in evidence; denialists are just grasping at anything to allow them to justify their prior political worldview.


Categories Climate Change

1 thought on “You Must Be Ignorant or Dishonest to Dismiss Climate Change

  1. I would add one more category, based on my experiences. I have a former coworker and current friend who was a brilliant engineer and scientist who’s a « skeptic. » I would place his denial firmly in the ideologically motivated camp. I don’t believe he’s dishonest or ignorant, but he has some traits that strongly predispose him to this stance. He’s very contrarian and hates when everyone agrees on something. He’s highly libertarian in his politics. His preferred approach is kind of socratic. He takes one position that we think is true, say the historical ice core record, and drills down on how we know that until you arrive at some foundational element of the data collection and processing that someone like me, a non-expert, doesn’t know about or understand. Based on that he says there is room for more skepticism than is typically acceptable in scientific circles.
    Of course, to do this he has to ignore some rather obvious top level truths that we know, or show why solid facts might be wrong. He also frequently gets upset over how skeptics are painted and gets angry at the straw man of the worst prognostications on the « alarmist » side. Trying to show him a reasonable stance such as yours and mine has been somewhat helpful.
    It’s a tough nut to crack. Of course, he’s also rather disappointed that he can’t seem to get me to be more skeptical either. It’s such a charged topic that we’ve basically had to table it.

    Liked by 2 people

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