Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand

by Bryan Walker on April 28, 2011

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the SandJohn Cook’s website Skeptical Science is held in high regard for its patient examination of the arguments put up by climate change deniers and its marshalling of the answers mainstream climate science provides. The result is quietly devastating as the scientific inadequacy of the deniers’ arguments becomes apparent.

Cook has now collaborated with environmental scientist Haydn Washington in a book which puts denial in all its forms under the spotlight of reason and challenges readers to recognise it for the delusion it is. Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand not only focuses on the deniers who claim that the science is wrong but also, as the subtitle indicates, conducts a telling examination of the full range of societal denial. Some denial is active and aggressive, but the persistent refusal of society to adequately face up to the reality of climate change is also a form of denial, one which the book addresses with urgency.

The science is explained first. The chapter which covers the basics of climate science is a model of clarity, remarkably comprehensive within the space available to it. It shows why the increases in global temperature since 1960 cannot be explained without anthropogenic forcings. In describing the carbon cycle it acknowledges that the emissions from fossil fuels and deforestation may seem small in comparison to the other fluxes of carbon, but points out that it is as perturbations of an existing balance that they have such a powerful effect. A clear explanation of feedback mechanisms, Hansen’s “guts of the climate problem”, is included. Runaway climate change, meaning becoming locked into accelerating temperature that may stabilize some 6-10 degrees higher than today, is the uncomfortable ultimate possibility that feedbacks and climate surprises open up.  When it comes to defining dangerous climate change the chapter refers to Hansen’s view that the collapse of the ice sheets would be the critical event, with the subsequent coastal devastation and its economic impact making it very difficult for humanity to do much to reverse the changes. The authors finally note the new factors that are emerging in the science to suggest that the forecasts of the pace and impacts of climate change are understatements.

Moving on to climate change denial arguments, the book perceptively groups them under five headings which incidentally show how little most of them have to do with genuine science. Conspiracy theories form one group; they were exploited to the utmost in the Climategate affair. A second is the quoting of fake experts as opposing the consensus; any scientist will serve, no matter how far removed from climate study. Impossible expectations provide a third grouping; deniers reject models, for example, on the grounds that they do not provide certainty. Misrepresentations and logical fallacies characterise the fourth group of arguments, such as the claim that because climate has changed in the past current climate change must be natural. Finally comes cherry picking, both of data and of published papers; the claim that global warming is good falls in this category and the book provides devastating tables of the positives and negatives of global warming to show that such a claim is made against the enormous weight of evidence to the contrary.

Denial of consensus science has a long history. Climate science denial has antecedents in campaigns against the science relating to tobacco, acid rain and the ozone hole amongst others. The denial campaigns are always heavily funded by industries whose interests are threatened by the science. At this point the authors focus on one of the latest instalments of the climate change denial movement, Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth. They respond to him with the mainstream science he rejects. The blustering confidence he displays makes it unlikely that he and his like will be disturbed by the calm statements of the science offered here, but hopefully those statements will help other readers see that a professorship in geology doesn’t add weight to claims that attract no support from those engaged in the real climate science.

At this point the book turns its attention away from the denial industry to address the more subtle denial which pervades society and prevents our engagement with the urgent task of addressing climate change. These chapters use sociologist Stanley Cohen’s illuminating categorisation of denial into three varieties. Literal denial is the argument of the climate deniers and the denial industry. Interpretive denial is what we see from governments who talk much but do little. Implicatory denial engages most of us – it’s not that we deny the knowledge, but we don’t incorporate it into everyday life or act on it. We evade the issue. There is an elephant in the room but we don’t want to notice it.  Not only do we want to ignore it, but we don’t want to talk about ignoring it. Our “self-interested sloth” means we avoid the question and thus deny it.

Our avoidance is understandable, the book grants. Climate change is deeply disturbing. It threatens our confidence in the continuity of our self-identity and the constancy of our social and material environments. We fear change, somewhat ironically in this case since that fear ought to mobilise us to prevent a highly threatening change. We are fixated on growth economics and unable to give proper consideration to ecological sustainability. Indeed our ecological ignorance is profound and is compounded by our failure to understand exponential growth. We have an alarming readiness to gamble on the future. The media haven’t helped: they have failed to communicate clearly the causes of climate change and portrayed the science as controversial. Politicians have found it all too much to handle.

How do we roll back denial?  First, we face reality. Yes it’s grim, but it’s not hopeless. The authors have no truck with despair. Literal denial is answered by science. The interpretive denial of the politicians can be changed by public pressure. But the implicatory denial in which we are mired requires a re-examination of our values and our ideologies.  The consumerist society will no longer serve. The authors envisage a dream of the ‘great work’ of repairing the earth as propounded by Thomas Berry in his book of that title. Consumerism has failed. We need an eco-centric ethic, which considers the whole of nature. The writers discuss this at some length, putting in a plug for a steady state economy as one which makes sense in a climate change world.

They believe there are people – though by no means everyone yet – willing to break with delusion and denial and it is with such that the book seeks to communicate. Much detailed discussion follows as to what is involved, including a survey of the “wealth of solutions” which offer good grounds for optimism that large emission cuts can be achieved at moderate cost. Renewable energy is the key, going hand in hand with a reduction in consumerism, and the authors explain how they see it working out without recourse to nuclear power, to the questionable technology of carbon capture and storage or to geoengineering.

The book is compact and well referenced. It carries an eloquent foreword from Naomi Oreskes. It is lucid and compelling in its discussions. It adds a weighty voice to the summons to face the physical and ethical reality of climate change, to have done with denial and to set about the still achievable task of repair.

[Purchase via Hot Topic affiliates Book Depository (free shipping worldwide), Fishpond (NZ), Amazon.com.]

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Byron Smith April 28, 2011 at 7:23 am

Excellent review and thanks for the reminder to have a look at this book.

one of the latest instalments of the climate change denial movement, Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth
If only it were one of the latest. At 2009, it’s unfortunately getting quite old given the stream of misinformation being pumped out.

Julie April 28, 2011 at 9:08 am

I like the five types of climate change arguments. I have heard a few people use all five types in the space of a five minute conversation. I checked the Christchurch library and the book isn’t available yet but it looks interesting so I may have to order it online.

Gareth April 28, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hi Julie – Bryan’s review is timed to coincide with publication day. I expect it will find its way into libraries in due course.

Julie April 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

Thanks Gareth. Good to know. I will have to check back at the library.

Bryan Walker April 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

Julie, today’s publication day is in the UK. The Australian release will be mid-May and I presume that’s when it will be in NZ. But the library can pre-order if you persuade them it’s a book they ought to have, which it certainly is.

Gosman April 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Steady state economy is just another way of stating a centralised Socialist society.

When will Climate change campaigners realise they will have a long hard battle trying to impose this sort of system regardless of how ‘TINA’ they paint the picture?

Solutions to the problems posed by AGW need to come from across the political spectrum if there is any hope of rapid action.

Macro April 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm

When the chips are down Gosman. eg WW2 (and the consequences of continual BAU will result in a world where “natural” disasters create virtual war zones – eg Brisbane after the floods, Pakistan, Ethiopia, etc); then a centralised regulated economy and the rationing of resources is the only possible solution. The Market will still operate, and black marketeers will still try to make their “killing” as they did in England in the 1940’s – to the detriment of everyone else. But the need to get away from the fixation on neo-liberal consumerisim is becoming more and more urgent. Of course solutions need to be accepted by all across the political spectrum. Unfortunately, the predominance of theory by economists today is still the fixation on past – and failed – ideas.
These ideas of continual growth, marketing, and consumption are unsustainable, unethical, based on false science, and demonstrably harmful to the planet. They cannot be allowed to go unchallenged any longer. The concept of a steady state economy is at least one reasonable, responsible, attempt to find a way forward, and we need to do it soon.

_R2D2 April 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Firstly, Gosman’s main point was that promoting far left measures was not going to successfully encourage democratic societies to adopt measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. You responded by arguing that people will demand it when natural disasters become unbearable –but wouldn’t this be too late? If you want to avoid dangerous climate change you need to reduce emissions before weather events get this bad. So from what I can see Gosman is right.

On economics, sorry Macro but you have no idea what you are talking about. Once again you somehow argue that all economists follow one school of thought and that this is based solely on continual growth. And that continual growth is not possible. Economics is a method of assessing an issue, many different economists draw many different conclusions and apply many different schools of thought.

‘A steady state economy’

You seem to confuse economic growth, which is based on increased welfare, with consumption. Yes the main proxy used for welfare is GDP per capita, but no economist (that I know of) argues GDP per capita is a water tight measure of welfare, only that it is the best/easiest/most transparent we have. If we are comparing economic welfare of people today to those of a thousand years ago we ALWAYS look at non consumption measures, such as life expectancy, freedom, health, leisure, etc. But when comparing this year to next it is best to use GDP per capita because it is an easy consistant measure.

A ‘steady state economy’ would suggest that in a 100 years time life expectancy, freedom, health, leisure, etc would not have changed – when I hope they do! (for the better). Even in the last few months we have seen an increase in world welfare with the freeing of Egypt from a tyrant – hopefully other nations can soon follow! So perhaps you should direct your argument at the unsustainablity of current practices (if you believe this) such as economies based on oil or unstainable externalities. Whether or not we can maintain our current welfare in the short to medium term with a change in the form of our economy remains to be seen, but I have no doubt in the long term economic growth will always occur.

Macro April 30, 2011 at 2:06 am

“You responded by arguing that people will demand it when natural disasters become unbearable –but wouldn’t this be too late? If you want to avoid dangerous climate change you need to reduce emissions before weather events get this bad.”
Exactly!
That is my whole point! Unfortunately we are pushing it up hill with people such as yourself and Gosman totally wedded to continuing to advocate an economy that got the planet into the state that it is now in.
Decarbonising our economy is NOT going to be achieved by BAU – ie continuing to pursue a neo-liberal market-driven consumer focused economy (which I will continue to maintain is the economic model of the majority of the western professional economist) The majority of whom are employed as advisers to banks, large corporations, govts and other organisations and who do not wish to bite the hand that feeds them ie they are very much inclined to follow the status quo. Market instruments supposedly designed to restrict Carbon ie cap and trade or carbon taxes are only sops. These mechanisims on their own cannot on their own achieve the reduction in carbon emissions required.
I totally agree that GDP as a measure of growth is not a particularly good one (for heavens sake I helped convert the thing from pounds shillings and pence to dollars and cents when working in the research branch of the Dept of Statistics in 1967.)
You totally misrepresent and misunderstand the concept of a steady state economy.
Sooner or later R2 you are going to have to come to the realisation that the Western World has been living way beyond sustainability for far too long. I don’t like it – you certainly don’t – and the rest of those who read these pages don’t either – but the plain fact is that our extravagent lifestyle is hurting the planet and it’s going to bite us on the bum if we don’t do something about it! And that MIGHT mean a less easy lifestyle! Maybe we can change the way we do things – travel less, use public transport, (heaven forbid!), walk, cycle, eat less meat, ban polystyrene meat trays (an example of designed rubbish if ever there was one – used one and sent to the tip) and so on.

_R2D2 May 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

My comment did not argue BAU was needed. My only points are that:
– Gosman’s point on promotion of far left solutions is correct and your response misses the point he made
– A steady state economy is not needed to reduce emissions to levels suggested by the IPCC

You dont address these points in your response but instead go on some ramble about economists and MY world view (that you seem to know little about).

Im not going to respond to your unfounded accusations about economists.

Byron Smith April 30, 2011 at 5:18 am

Even in the last few months we have seen an increase in world welfare with the freeing of Egypt from a tyrant
Actually, we’ve seen tens of millions forced back into poverty due to rising food prices, which were (one of) the triggers for the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Why are food prices rising? A complex variety of reasons, among them, unstable weather consistent with anthropogenic climate change including severe droughts in Russia, Australia, Argentina, China (all major grain producers) and floods in Australia and Pakistan. When you look into the other causes, many of them are also closely related to questions of sustainability. Our ability to feed ourselves is at the heart of these questions.

I have no doubt in the long term economic growth will always occur.
On what do you base this expectation? It is this faith in future growth that is precisely under question.

_R2D2 May 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm

In 200,000 years of history. Unless we somehow lose knowledge (possible) and never gain it back again (I dont see this as possible) economic growth will continue.

_R2D2 May 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm

On Egypt, the food price rises had already happened at the time of the revolution. Welfare increased with an increase in freedom. It may decrease again for another reason, increase again, etc. But in the long term I am hopeful that welfare, as it has for millennia, will continue to rise.

An example is this blog post. It doesn’t consume resources (well materially). Yet here we all are enriching our lives with discussion. 20 years ago this wouldn’t have occurred. So this is increasing our welfare as human beings and not an unsustainable practice. Who knows what innovations will continue in the future to allow future humans to further enrich their lives.

CTG April 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

R2: “A ‘steady state economy’ would suggest that in a 100 years time life expectancy, freedom, health, leisure, etc would not have changed”

That’s a logical fallacy. GDP is not a measure of welfare, so it does not follow that if GDP were to remain constant that welfare would also remain constant. Nor is it the case that welfare can only improve if GDP increases.

Brian Easton has been writing about this a lot in his Listener columns lately. He has been arguing for some time for economists to adopt a better measure of economic health that takes welfare into account. With such an index, it would be perfectly possible to see what economists currently consider a “steady state economy”, i.e. flat GDP, as economic growth once welfare factors are included.

(R2, who has long bitterly complained about the use of tree rings as a proxy for temperature, uses GDP as a proxy for welfare. What delicious irony!)

CTG May 3, 2011 at 7:10 am

Oh, and R2, it appears that Jeremy Grantham doesn’t agree with you about limitless economic growth. In fact he says:

Rapid growth is not ours by divine right; it is not even mathematically possible over a sustained period.

.

But then, what does he know? He only manages a $100 billion investment fund, so I’m sure he doesn’t know as much about economics as you do.

_R2D2 May 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Your comment is bizarre. Did you read my post?

One of the main points of my post is that GDP does not measure welfare, and then you say I am using GDP as a proxy for welfare. Please have another read and withdraw your above comment.

CTG May 4, 2011 at 7:00 am

Withdraw? Why? All I did was twist your words and use them against you to mock you. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Tell you what, you withdraw all the countless smears against climate scientists you have made over the years, and I will withdraw that comment. Deal?

CTG May 4, 2011 at 7:15 am

And I assume the resort to tone trolling means that you have no reply to the Jeremy Grantham comment? Do you still insist that (purely) economic growth is unlimited in a world of finite resources?

_R2D2 May 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

What do you mean by purely?

What is ‘tone trolling’? Do you think I’m on here to strategically create doubt in the arguments for my evil desire to stop action to prevent global warming? Im just here to have an interesting discussion. I can’t help my point of view and to suggest that it is ‘trolling’ is insulting and small minded.

I have always said that:

Changes in economic output is the result of changes in stocks of physical capital, human capital and natural capital, and these stocks are subject to changes in technology (including changes in knowledge).

Natural capital can go down as a resource is used or degraded. But it can also go up as technology and knowledge change. For example, the value of sunlight will go up if technology allows conversion to electricity more economically. The value of hydrogen will increase if fusion energy is harnessed.

As technology and knowledge are continually increasing, the quantity of these stocks per person will always increase also. As these stocks increase economic output per person will also increase.

In thinking about what economic growth will look like it is important not to think only about consumption of monetary goods. Services and non-monetary goods are also important. Increases in medical knowledge, decreases in work hours, improvements in quality of life through free societies, decreases in crime, reduced discrimination, etc.

You may wonder how these fall into the capital stocks equation. Human capital is a very broad term, it is not simply the number of people. In fact if it was it could never change in a per capita term. Increased medical knowledge, decreased working hours, free societies etc all are considered increases in human capital.

bill May 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

What is ‘tone-trolling’?

You’re at it again, R2!

I’ve also accused you of selective tone-trolling – you know, when I pointed out that while you were routinely very sensitive indeed to Warmist ‘nastiness’, the worst grotesqueries of John D and the egregious Joe F were apparently water off a ducks back to you – and it turns out you can’t even be bothered spending the 20 seconds in Google required to define the term, and instead demand to be fed like some squawking fledgling. JFGI!

Plus it seems rather self explanatory. From the name.

(Tip: while you’re there you might like to look up ‘concern troll’, too!)

_R2D2 May 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm

All this pigeonholing is really just a way of disregarding a point that has been made without having to actually address the point. It’s a form of ad hominem argument – “Oh R2, you are just a [xyz] troll”. In reality a comment that is made is not one trolling strategy or another, it’s just different points of view and attitudes. I don’t accuse people who disagree with me as being some cliché. I just address the comments. You guys should do the same. But then I guess this comment is just ‘concern trolling’ so you will ignore it.

John D May 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

“Tone trolling”
This is the executive summary (Eli Rabbett did a pretty good definition)

If you request that everyone be nice to each other, you are “tone trolling”

If you are rude and abusive and on the same “side” as the blog’s point of view, you are OK.

If you are rude and abusive and your opinions are on the opposite side of the blog’s point of view, you are, er, rude and abusive.

Ergo, if you give someone the thumbs up for saying thanks, that person must be “OK”.

If the “bad” person (such as me, a “Non-Genuine-Person ™), says thanks, then make sure that you click the red button.

Funnily enough, most of you couldn’t understand it when someone (not me) started a rash of down thumbs for saying thanks, yet when you vote me out of existence for saying exactly the same thing, this seems OK and fair by your books.

This is, by the way, why I lost my rag and called you “cockroaches”, because I was extremely pissed off at the time that even a simple one word kind gesture got voted off the blog.

Oh, for the sake of the overly sensitive Doug, I am EXTREMELY SORRY and APOLOGETIC for my use of the cockroach word, although I wouldn’t like to suggest being nice to each other as that would be tone-trolling.

CTG May 5, 2011 at 7:29 am

“Do you think I’m on here to strategically create doubt in the arguments for my evil desire to stop action to prevent global warming?”

Yup.

So, are you going to take back your smears against Trenberth, Mann, Jones et al? It’s not a good look when you are trying to occupy the moral high ground if you go around casting baseless slanders.

_R2D2 May 5, 2011 at 11:23 am

What smears?

CTG May 6, 2011 at 7:13 am

It would take far too long to list them all, so let’s just go with your most recent smear on Trenberth.

In that you said that Trenberth privately believes global warming is not happening, using the “travesty” quote as evidence. It had been very well explained several times previously that the travesty quote did not mean that Trenberth doesn’t believe in global warming, so there is no conceivable reason why you could think it did.

Your misuse of that quote in that context had only one purpose: to attack Trenberth’s credibility. It was mean-spirited, slanderous and false.

When I pointed this out to you, you didn’t retract the smear or apologise for it.

So you can clarify things for us now: do you still stand by your accusation against Trenberth?

_R2D2 May 6, 2011 at 9:19 am

Smear
4. to slander

Slander
2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: a slander against his good name.

All I did in that post was post a quote. Hardly a smear. Can you do better? Seems a bit minor to justify your above stance.

CTG May 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

No, you posted two quotes. The way that you presented these quotes was:
1) That the two statements were about the same topic, i.e. whether AGW is real or not
2) That the second statement contradicted the first statement, and therefore
3) Trenberth was trying to deceive the public into thinking AGW is real when he in fact believed it was not.

The only possible interpretation of this is as an attack on Trenberth’s professional standing.

However, 1) above is false. The two statements were on completely different topics, as I showed in my reply to you. 2) and 3) therefore do not follow – Trenberth does not have different public and private views on the reality of AGW.

So, you made a false statement about Trenberth that if true would have been damaging to his professional reputation. Seems like the very definition of slander to me. The only other factor to consider is intent.

Did you genuinely believe that the “travesty” quote indicated Trenberth does not believe in AGW? I would find it very hard to believe so, as this had been discussed many times previously on this site, including in articles on which you commented.

If that was your genuine belief, I’m sure you can now see how damaging your post was. You surely would want to apologise to Trenberth for your unintentional implication that he is a fraud, right?

On the other hand, if you knew that the travesty quote didn’t mean what you implied, … well, I think we can draw our own conclusions.

bill May 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

John, you also called us all ‘N*zis’. Repeatedly. Remember?

The thumbs up and down buttons are gone. While they did provide some sport, it’s time to move on…

And R2, you’re actually tone trolling there, if anything. I know people who perceive themselves as individualists object to categorisation, but when behaviours are observed to occur with frequency – often with depressing frequency – inquiring minds will begin to define types and nut out strategies for dealing with them.

John D May 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

John, you also called us all ‘N*zis’. Repeatedly. Remember?

No, I don’t remember. Perhaps you can provide some evidence to back up your claim.

I once made a comment alluding elements of the “liberal” elements of society to the said political movement ( I am not the first to do so, and books have been written on the topic).
However, I don’t recall calling you this name, and certainly not repeatedly. If I am wrong, then I apologise.

It does seem a curious perversion of Godwin’s law that any mention of the said political movement invokes squarks of indignation, regardless of whether it was a direct comparison or not.

rockytom April 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Gareth,
John’s book is due out in the US tomorrow (the 28th here). I just completed the following email to the local paper that has been publishing a great deal of nonsense from said ignoramuses:

Dear editor,

Please publish the following letter under the title “Deniers.”

Global warming deniers are becoming fewer and fewer in the face of overwhelming evidence of climate change, but they are still around misleading the public with their disinformation and misinformation gleaned from internet sites, Fox News, and Republicans like Barton, Inhofe, Limbaugh, Palin, etc.

Some say that global warming is not happening because some glaciers are growing. Of course some glaciers are growing in areas where snowfall (accumulation) exceeds ablation (melting and sublimation). But glaciers all over the world are melting and sea level is rising. All one has to do is check the satellite data, which give a global view instead of the view of coal companies supporting some web site in West Virginia. Which are you going to believe?

One denier stated in this forum that global warming couldn’t be happening because he had taught geology for 35 years. This does not qualify him as a climate scientist and he is wrong. Another denier stated that his high school biology teacher told him CO2 was good for plants. Really? My high school, college and grad school teachers taught me to look at the evidence and objectively make decisions.

Temperatures always fluctuate, but global averages since the mid-1970s have been steadily increasing along with CO2 since 1958. Diurnal minimum and maximum temperatures are coming closer together worldwide; summer and winter averages are getting closer together. Spring is coming earlier and winter later. More energy in the atmosphere is resulting in more severe storms in many areas that are seeing 100-year floods weekly as well as tornadoes, over 500 in the US alone in April 2011. Continue to deny and suffer the consequences; but, unfortunately, we all will.

Earth is warming and President Obama was born in Hawaii, but these facts won’t assuage the deniers.

G. Thomas Farmer, Ph.D.

715 Homestead Circle
Las Cruces, NM 88011

575-532-7040

pmagn April 30, 2011 at 9:02 am

Looking forward to reading it in snook form.
BTW, al’s new ebook is outstanding format
Our choice
http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=120290654717579&id=139434822741700

CTG May 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

It’s great that John Cook has done this. The best thing about the website, which I hope the book also does, is that you can see the whole gamut of the denialist arguments, and how self-contradictory they are. It is obvious that there is no actual alternative theory that can explain how the atmosphere works if CO2 sensitivity is either very low or zero; all they have is a series of nitpicks.

There is a lot of similarity here to the debate over evolution. I am reading Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth at the moment. It follows much the same lines as Heads in the Sand; laying out the scientific evidence in support of evolution, and then one by one destroying the creationists’ nitpicks. Of course, the creationists do at least have a competing theory – it’s just that they have absolutely zero evidence for their theory, and mountains of contradictory evidence. Their denial tactics are similar though (strangely enough, it’s often the same people involved in both denial campaigns). They try to attack individual details of the evidence for evolution, even though their attacks are often contradictory. Sometimes it’s just outright denial.

There is one hilarious passage where Dawkins recounts an interview he had with a creationist. She says that if there were ever intermediate forms between man and ape, there would be fossils to prove it. Dawkins says that the fossils do exist, and he can take here to a museum to show her them. She spends the rest of the interview blindly ignoring the existence of these fossils, trying to change the subject whenever Dawkins mentions them again, accusing him of aggressively forcing his beliefs on her and so on. Does that sound familiar?

So, we need to keep patiently compiling the evidence, keep calling out the “skeptics” when they contradict themselves, and eventually the politicians will realise that they can’t keep hoping it will just blow over, and they have to act.

Richard C1 May 1, 2011 at 10:21 am

“and eventually the politicians will realise that they can’t keep hoping it will just blow over, and they have to act.”

The deniers often try to deride us for it, but here in Europe the politicians are acting. Sure, every now and then they need to be reminded, and the banking crises isn’t helping. But we keep making agreements, passing laws, and updating targets. Sometimes we slip back a step, but progress however slow is being made.

Thomas May 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Heads in the Sand also applies to the ugly sister of AGW: The pending and happening stress of the worlds energy supply and with it the ability or the lack of it to do much of anything major as a species as we trundle towards a state of affairs where we neither have the economic means nor the energy required to take charge of our destiny.
This article here is a somber summary of where things are at:
http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/national/9081-the-peak-oil-crisis-dimming-of-the-globe.html

ArchPrime May 5, 2011 at 11:39 pm

“Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet uncritically embrace any argument, op-ed piece, blog or study that refutes global warming.”

Interesting comment. Interesting in that those bad old “skeptics” are characterised as operatives of some kind of malicious collective identity – as if being sceptical on this topic makes all somehow similar in our motivations and behaviour – one of the evil “others” who wilfully refuse to receive the truth.

I feel nothing in common with those with those who are rabidly conservative or who otherwise somehow stand to gain from rejecting the consensus. I am simply able to think and evaluate the best argument presented by either side, and so far am not sufficiently convinced on balance of evidence that the modellers projections are reliable enough to in themselves to justify more alarm (and thus the cost of more intervention) than other threats we face –

Interesting also that you could substitute the word “skeptic” for “warmist” and be equally accurate in your characterisation.

There are indeed true believers in both camps, who reject the evidence they don’t like, or don’t bother to independently assess it at all, leaving it to experts to do the thinking for them….

Dappledwater May 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

” Interesting in that those bad old “skeptics” are characterised as operatives of some kind of malicious collective identity”

Or not. I can tell you that is definitely not John Cook’s outlook. And if you ever read the book (I suspect you won’t) he and his co-author elucidate their views on why people, such as yourself, are in denial.

” Interesting also that you could substitute the word “skeptic” for “warmist” and be equally accurate in your characterisation.”

So far the “skeptics” have only come up with sorry list of incoherent and self-contradictory nitpicks. In what way is that the same as the vast body of research and observations which underpin climate science?.

“or don’t bother to independently assess it at all, leaving it to experts to do the thinking for them”

Ah, the Galileo canard huh?. So what’s causing all the warming then, if not human fossil fuel emissions?. Undetected and inexplicable natural cycles don’t cut the mustard here, so don’t try that one on.

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