Perhaps the best legitimate reason to deny global warming, climate change, and humanity’s role in it
is: “I’ve lived in a cave for a few decades, and never heard of it.” If that’s you, you share no blame;
no one faults you. Congratulations on your survival.
Quite a few other excuses have arisen lately, and I hope to tackle a few of the most popular here. None
of these are straw men arguments. All of these “reasons” are quoted (and cited) from popular organizations
and politicians. Use the More menu
at upper right to navigate.
Global temperature record, 1880-2012 — source (NASA)
“That one little burp by Mt Etna has already put more than 10,000 times the CO2 into the
atmosphere than mankind has in our ENTIRE time on earth...”
I’m fairly certain these people just invent these numbers out of thin air. In real life,
scientists have a difficult time
estimating how much
carbon dioxide volcanoes pump into the atmosphere:
“The most vexing problem we have encountered in modeling the global carbon cycle is to
calculate the rate of degassing of carbon dioxide due to igneous and metamorphic activity.”
But they do estimate it, at anywhere from 65 to 319 million tons of CO₂ per
year. I could find zero scientific papers countering these estimates or supporting the wild
claim that the number is actually far larger. On the other hand, it’s much easier to calculate
humanity’s carbon dioxide input — and that is
at 40 billion tons per year. That’s 615 times the low estimate for volcanoes, and 125 times
the high estimate for volcanoes.
So no, when a volcano “burps”, it does not in any
way emit more CO₂ “than mankind has in our entire time on Earth”. All the volcanoes,
combined with all other natural emissions of carbon dioxide from the Earth produce fewer tons
of CO₂ than we humans do. Quite a bit fewer.
(Note: volcanoes have certainly been known to affect the Earth’s climate in the past. But
scientists say it’s actually the
sulfate aerosols produced by
volcanoes that have an effect. And that effect is usually cooling, and always very
“Global warming negotiations [are] ‘an elaborate conspiracy in which hundreds of climate
scientists have twisted their results to support the climate change theory in order to protect their
research funding’. Sounds plausible to us.” (emphasis mine)
“Seasoned scientists say they are spending more than a quarter to nearly all their time applying
for research grants, writing many more proposals than they had in the past for far less money.”
Funding for science comes from three major
sources: government grants, corporate R&D departments, and non-profit foundations. Governments sponsor
research because it’s accepted that they can govern better with more information. Corporations sponsor
inquiry in hopes of increased future revenues — think drug companies researching new pills, or Boeing
paying for studies on new wing designs. Non-profit organizations sponsor science for their pet causes —
curing/preventing cancer, for example.
There is evidence that funding introduces bias.
For example, a drug evaluated by the company that makes it will (sometimes) have more favorable results about
the drug than when the same drug is evaluated by a government-sponsored study.
Something like 70% of all research funding
comes from private corporations, but in the field of climate research, the majority of the money comes
from governments — for example, NASA’s satellites, the NOAA’s thermometers, and the
Naval Research Laboratory’s study of the
There is very little evidence
of bias in climate research. On the contrary, many scientists agree with the statement of Stefan Rahmstorf,
when asked if his funding would suffer if he offered a sound alternate view:
“Quite the contrary, I would see it as a path to certain fame! Scientists always strive to find
something radically new and different — just reconfirming what is already quite well-known is
boring, and certainly will not get you the Nobel Prize.”
A letter (.pdf, 345 kb) published
in Science magazine and signed by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences (the nation’s
pre-eminent independent scientific organization) noted:
“This process [the scientific process] is inherently adversarial — scientists build
reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so
for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation...
When some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they
gain the status of ‘well-established theories’ and are often spoken of as
‘facts’... Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community,
fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls
into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that
humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which
What there is evidence for is bias among the skeptics — though few of them are
scientists. They're conservative elected officials
at business media companies like the Wall Street Journal
or businesspersons (example).
Perhaps the questions that should be asked are: Who would benefit the most from climate science being
correct (assuming we act on it)? And: Who would benefit the most from it being incorrect (in which case
we won’t have to act on it)? If there’s nothing to anthropogenic climate change, the
beneficiaries are clearly almost everyone, but most especially those who profit from producing
greenhouse gases: coal companies, oil companies, auto manufacturers, and the beef industry. If
climate science is correct, almost no one benefits, especially the scientists who go with the flow
and just agree with the current consensus. But acting on that science will deeply hurt the bottom
lines of corporations who depend mainly on producing greenhouse gases.
“Gov. Rick Scott of Florida ... was asked by The Miami Herald if he believes climate change
is significantly affecting the weather. ‘Well, I’m not a scientist,’ he said.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ... was asked this month by The Cincinnati Enquirer if he
believes that climate change is a problem. ‘I’m not a scientist,’ he said.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, when asked by reporters if climate change will play a role in the
Republican agenda, came up with a now-familiar formulation. ‘I’m not qualified to debate the
science over climate change,’ he said.”
Some have theorized that it’s just a way of avoiding the question, knowing that climate change
isn’t a big issue with U.S. voters this election cycle. It’s a way of avoiding the label
“denier” while still getting funds from some of their biggest donors and sticking to the
party’s approved talking points.
Here’s the problem with that logic. None of the U.S. senators and representatives are
scientists, or have been. They are, according to
a list of their
previous occupations (.pdf, page 6), educators, attorneys, career politicians, ministers,
doctors, and nurses. Many hold law degrees and have owned or do own businesses. Yet they are required
to set scientific policy for the nation and to vote on funding for science as part of their jobs. As one
Republican lobbyist admitted:
“Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything. Most politicians
aren’t scientists, but they vote on science policy. They have opinions on Ebola, but they’re not
epidemiologists. They shape highway and infrastructure laws, but they’re not engineers.”
Indeed. Many of them aren’t military veterans either, but vote on funding and structuring the
military. Few of them are economists, but they have to dabble in that too. None of them are
statisticians, but all of them use and spew statistics.
What if you could never make a decision about anything that wasn’t your field? I’m not
an auto mechanic, but I have to decide whether, when, and how to fix my car. I’m not a child-
development expert, but must make thousands of decisions about raising my children. I’m not
a plumber, electrician, or carpenter, but must monitor and make decisions about the state of my
house. I’m not a meteorologist, but I have to make plans and take action based on the future
weather — bring a coat or umbrella, for example (and copies for my children).
In each of these situations, I don’t get to use the excuse “I’m not a...”
What do I do? What do you do? We rely on the advice of experts. I bring a coat because
the local meteorologist told me a cold front would come through this afternoon. I replace part of my
toilet because a plumber identified the problem. I set rules and boundaries for my children because
child-development experts say it’s a good idea. I replaced the tires on my car because a
mechanic said they were showing signs of wear.
I deferred to those who are experts in those fields, even if it’s checking a book or
looking at sources online. I have to evaluate the credibility of the source, and check her
answers against other people who know what they’re talking about.
No, Mr. Scott, Mr. McConnell, and Mr. Boehner, you’re not scientists. But you know who they
are and what they’ve published. You have to act.
In the video, Dr. Muller blasts the climate scientists over reportedly “hiding the
decline” in recent global temperatures, referring to
a scandal a few
years ago, in which climate scientists’ emails had reportedly been hacked and the emails
revealed they’d lied. Muller says in the video that he’ll never read papers by these
Muller and his daughter founded Berkeley Earth in 2010, in
an attempt to study the concerns of the skeptics. And it turned out, the climate scientists had
been right all along, despite their methods.
“From 2010-2012, Berkeley Earth systematically addressed the five major concerns that global
warming skeptics had identified, and did so in a systematic and objective manner. The first four
were potential biases from data selection, data adjustment, poor station quality, and the urban
heat island effect. Our analysis showed that these issues did not unduly bias the record. The fifth
concern related to the over reliance on large and complex global climate models by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the attribution of the recent temperature
increase to anthropogenic forcings. We obtained a long and accurate record, spanning 250 years and
showed that it could be well-fit with a simple model that included a volcanic term and, as an
anthropogenic proxy, CO₂ concentration. We concluded that the record could be reproduced by just
these two contributions, and that inclusion of direct variations in solar intensity did not
contribute to the fit.”
Muller went further, calling himself a “converted skeptic”. Remember, this is after being skeptical of global warming data, and then setting up a nonprofit group to study it for himself.
“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”
It’s also worth noting that the alleged perpetrators in the scandal were exonerated by every body that investigated them, including the House of Commons (UK) Science and Technology Committee, the Science Assessment Panel, Pennsylvania State University (for some reason), U.S. EPA, The U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Science Foundation.
Excuse #11: NASA / NOAA Altered Historic Temperature Record
“In that same 1999 report, he showed that US temperatures peaked in 1934, and declined through the rest of the century... But in the year 2000, NASA and NOAA altered the historical US temperature record, which now shows that there was about one degree centigrade US warming during the century before 1989.”
“Fox News host Steve Doocy gave the doubters some ammunition on June 24, 2014. In a segment on Fox and Friends called ‘News by the Numbers’, Doocy drew viewers’ attention to the year 1934.
‘That’s the hottest year on record in the United States,’ Doocy said. ‘At least until NASA scientists fudged the numbers to make 1998 the hottest year to overstate the extent of global warming. The 1930s were by far the hottest decade in the United States.’ ”
(The PolitiFact story also references Tony Heller’s blog, where he writes under the name Steven Goddard.)
First, it’s important to note that U.S. climate date is not global climate data. Global warming is based on averages of temperatures recorded all over the globe.
Second, these deniers apparently ignored why the numbers changed. They just assumed there is a huge conspiracy. Heller actually accused one particular scientist of being responsible for it, giving this reason: “...NASA climate scientists under the leadership of Dr. Hansen have demonstrated nearly complete incompetence in forecasting, and they have tampered with data to try to hide their mispredictions.”
The Why is very simple, according to several eminent scientists:
* New weather stations replaced old ones
* Time-of-day recordings were changed
* Some new weather stations are in different locations than old ones they replaced
“Before 1940, most followed Weather Service guidelines and recorded the temperature at sundown. Through the second half of the century, there was a gradual shift to recording morning temperatures. This change produced the appearance of a cooling trend when none existed.”
There is still a problem with some of the data, as PolitiFact notes. Some of the current methods “infill” for missing stations:
“As part of its adjustment process, USHCN infills missing stations based on a spatially-weighted average of surrounding station anomalies (plus the long-term climatology of that location) to generate absolute temperatures... Regardless, it has relatively little effect on the results.”
However, even after correcting for this infilling (correction done by Berkeley Earth), the numbers are still close:
“Last spring the Environmental Protection Agency proposed emissions standards that virtually prohibit new coal-fired power plants. As we await implementation of these strict new rules, additional regulations that will affect existing power plants, refineries and other manufactures are sure to follow. Analyses of these measures by the American Council for Capital Formation, which studies economic and environmental policy, show that they will raise both electricity rates and gas prices — costing jobs and hurting the economy ...
Instead of pursuing heavy-handed regulations that imperil U.S. jobs and send jobs (and their emissions) overseas, we should take a step back from the unfounded claims of impending catastrophe and think critically about the challenge before us.”
Representatives from oil-rich states like Texas and Oklahoma (almost all of them Republicans, coincidentally) regularly warn of the dire economic consequences if we enact any legislation, rules, or treaties designed to reign in greenhouse gas emissions. Jobs will be lost, they say. Profits will be cut. Your power bill will rise.
None of them admit the cost of business as usual.
Climate change is already damaging the economy, stripping 1.6% from the global GDP. Fortunately for us in the U.S., the greatest impacts are being felt in “developing” countries.
$1.2 trillion lost each year
4.5 million deaths attributable to fossil fuel pollution
By 2030, cost will rise to 3.2% of global GDP
A recent series of Reuters special reports (Water’s Edge) detailed much of the infrastructure damage the U.S. is already paying for due to rising sea levels. The first installment (Insidious Invasion) listed the millions we’re already spending. For example, NASA has already spent $43 million over the past five years to fortify the shoreline of Wallops Island, Va., with sand, to keep a launch facility from flooding. A third of that sand has washed away already. A nearby beach (Chincoteague) is losing 10-22 feet a year, causing damages from flooding that have already cost $3 million. Charleston, S.C., is currently spending $200 million in flood control projects. In Norfolk, Va., the mayor is asking for $1 billion for flood control gates, higher roads, and better drains. These are just a few of hundreds of examples.
This is all money that’s being poured into the sea — the oceans continue to rise (and much of our East Coast is sinking), and our expensive projects are being washed away. Working to stop climate change would — eventually — keep this money from being wasted at fighting symptoms.
Excuse #9: I Saw A Website That Said It Was A Hoax
(This is the only excuse I’ll list here without a link. There are too many of them to link to, and besides, I don’t want any more traffic heading their way.)
The largest, most exhaustive source I could find for opponents of human-caused climate change are hundreds of websites with names like Global Warming Hoax, Forbes.com, and Global Climate Scam. Many of them have lists like “10 Myths About Global Warming”, where they purport to “bust” the myths, one by one. These sites are generally homogenous in their use of ALL CAPS, exclamation points and lack of sources, spell-check, and correct punctuation.
When they do mention sources, they often name a person who they say is a scientist but don’t cite any certification, or they name a person working at a university you’ve never heard of. They almost never link to any published scientific reports (though they sometimes link from one hoax site to another). Most of these sites appear less credible than most blogs and make little effort to assuage that assumption.
Most people will never admit this is where they get their “information”, but they then post this “information” on Facebook, in tweets, and — somehow — Congressmen end up repeating these fictions. If you run across one of them, I hope you’re able to tell the difference between a baseless assertion and a scientific study.
“For the week of December 15, 2008 alone, HAM Weather Service reports 1,537 record low temperatures in the United States and 1,110 record snowfalls — not exactly what one would expect while on the way to climate catastrophe owing to global warming.”
Note the key words: “in the United States”. The author goes on to list several specific places that we think of as warm: Southern Louisiana, Las Vegas, etc. These locations are all cold right now, so global warming must be over.
Why it’s difficult to believe the average temperature of the Earth’s surface and oceans is increasing because of one day’s weather in one location blows my mind. Even one winter’s weather on one continent is not a sign of what’s happening over the entire Earth. All through the recent winter (2013-14), when it was numbingly cold here in mild-weathered Central Texas, Australians were melting with record heat.
Is it that people don’t understand how large the Earth is? Or do they think that the whole world has the same weather at the same time? Travel more, if you need to, to understand this. There are going to be days when it’s freezing in Chicago but hot and dry in Brazil. Whatever is happening this minute, where you live, is not happening at some other location.
Or is it that people can’t understand the passage of time? “I can't remember what warmth feels like, because it’s been so cold for two weeks.”
Excuse #7: I Thought Of Something The Scientists Haven’t Thought Of
“I went to Maryland and asked repeatedly two things which I’ve never been able to get answers on. One was, I said: ‘What ended the Ice Age?’ And the lead scientist at NASA said this, he said that what ended the Ice Age was ‘global wobbling’. That’s what I was told. This is the lead scientist down at Maryland; you’re welcome to go down there and ask him the same thing. So and my second question, which I thought was an intuitive question that should be followed up: ‘Is the wobbling of the Earth included in any of your [climate] models?’ And the answer was no.”
Just like the something you thought of that “proves” global warming isn’t happening or that man didn’t cause it, you can trust that scientists have already thought of it. In this case, despite Stockman insisting that he couldn’t get answers, he then related a story in which a NASA scientist answered him. In the same committee meeting, immediately after his story, scientist John P. Holdren explained to Stockman that wobbling happens over thousands of years, 22,000, 44,000, and a hundred thousand year cycles.
“In fact, Holdren says because of previous wobbling, we should be in a cooling period as we speak. ‘But the warming inflicted by human activities has overwhelmed the effect of global wobbling,’ he said.”
Every day, someone who’s not a scientist and in many cases not even a fan or supporter of science, will blog or comment about something the scientists have forgotten to take into consideration. “They forgot to account for the Sun!” I saw recently. Really? The thing that’s most responsible for all life and all climate and energy on the Earth? You think they forgot about that? No. They didn’t. They’ve taken the sun into account. As well as the Earth’s orbit, the Earth’s axial tilt, and the wobble. They actually have thought about all those things, over the course of many decades of study, that you just now thought of off the top of your head.
Excuse #6: Global Warming Has Stopped / Paused / Is On Hiatus
“The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have
been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century
Well, it’s just not true. Like many who’ve been stupidmongering with the “pause/hiatus”, this
writer either failed to understand — or deliberately misled his readers. As climate scientists
have made clear for years, global warming has slowed to a rate less than previous predictions.
has not stopped.
“For average climate records, 30 years is like one data point,” said Loeb, reiterating that while
the Earth is warming more slowly, it is still warming. “It’s really forcing us to look at our
models and observations and ask questions.”
“There is no statistically significant warming trend since November of 1996 in monthly surface
This is almost the same as the pause/hiatus reason; it’s just a different way of saying it.
It’s still not true. Despite author Patrick Michaels including graphs of 1998-2010 temperatures,
he handily ignores how small a time period 12 years is, and further made the mistake of not
noticing that the Earth is steadily warming.
“Climate scientists note that while the underlying long-term trend is unmistakable, it can be masked by short-term natural variations.”
Choosing 1998 as a starting point for these graphs is disingenuous at best, since 1998 was —
at that time — the hottest year on record. Not every year reaches that bar. However, 2005 beat
1998, and then 2010 did it too. 2014 was the warmest year on record, and then 2015 surpassed it. In
15 of the 16 warmest
years on record have been in the 21st Century, and each of the last three decades has been
warmer than the previous one. Even the coolest year of the 21st Century was warmer than the
“Putting aside for the moment the question of whether human industrial CO₂ emissions are having an effect on climate, it is quite clear that they are raising atmospheric CO₂ levels. As a result, they are having a strong and markedly positive effect on plant growth worldwide. There is no doubt about this. NASA satellite observations taken from orbit since 1958 show that, concurrent with the 19 percent increase in atmospheric CO₂ over the past half century, the rate of plant growth in the continental United States has increased by 14 percent. Studies done at Oak Ridge National Lab on forest trees have shown that increasing the carbon dioxide level 50 percent, to the 550 parts per million level projected to prevail at the end of the 21 century, will likely increase photosynthetic productivity by a further 24 percent. This is readily reproducible laboratory science. If CO₂ levels are increased, the rate of plant growth will accelerate.”
This particular author went on to say that global warming would “increase the rate of evaporation from the oceans”, thereby increasing worldwide precipitation, and lengthen the growing season, “thereby increasing still further the bounty of both agriculture and nature”.
This is also not true, despite how reasonable it might sound.
“However, while experiments on natural ecosystems have also found initial elevations in the rate of plant growth, these have tended to level off within a few years… The regional climate changes that higher CO₂ will bring, and their effect on these limiting factors on plant growth, such as water, also have to be taken into account. These indirect effects are likely to have a much larger impact than CO₂ fertilisation. For instance, while higher temperatures will boost plant growth in cooler regions, in the tropics they may actually impede growth. A two-decade study of rainforest plots in Panama and Malaysia recently concluded that local temperature rises of more than 1°C have reduced tree growth by 50 per cent… Studies of past climate changes suggest the land and oceans start releasing more CO₂ than they absorb as the planet warms. The latest IPCC report concludes that the terrestrial biosphere will become a source rather than a sink of carbon before the end of the century.”
There are several other sources on this subject, and most are far too complicated to discuss here. But the short answer is: no, it’s not as simple as “more CO₂, healthier plant life”.
Excuse #3: The Climate Has Always Changed Naturally; Our Actions Don’t Matter
“I don’t know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable. Climate is always evolving
and natural disasters have always existed... I do not believe that human activity is causing these
dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it… I have never denied the
climate is changing. That shouldn’t surprise us. The climate is always changing.”
This isn’t a myth; it happened. Everyone (except
Young Earthers, that is) accepts that
the Earth’s climate has shifted radically over the eons, from the Ice Ages to the very warm years.
There are three problems with using this as a reason to deny the importance of today’s anthropogenic
“The closest match to present-day climate change in the geological past is an episode known as the
Palaeo-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), around 55 million years ago. During the PETM the average global
temperature rose by between 5 and 8°C in just a few thousand years — but even this relatively rapid
change is slower than the current rate of global warming.”
“It’s pretty widely accepted now that we’re living through the sixth massive extinction. The fifth
one was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs vanished. Today we’re losing biodiversity at a
similar rate. And this is, of course, an anthropogenic mass extinction. The primary cause is human
“It is obviously true that past climate change was caused by natural forc[es]. However, to argue
that this means we can’t cause climate change is like arguing that humans can’t start bush fires
because in the past they’ve happened naturally.”
“Since 1998, more than 31,000 American scientists from diverse climate-related disciplines,
including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s, have signed a public petition announcing their belief
that ‘...there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane,
or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating
of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.’ ”
“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century
are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations
worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” (emphasis mine)
The following organizations are just some of those who are sure about this: American Association
for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American
Medical Association, American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, The Geological
Society of America, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Global Change Research Program, and
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Their reports contain the following phrases:
“The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring
now, and it is a growing threat to society”, “Comprehensive scientific assessments... clearly indicate...
largely attributable to emissions from human activities”, “Human-induced climate change requires urgent
action... Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change”, “concurs with the scientific
consensus that... anthropogenic contributions are significant”, “It is clear from extensive scientific
evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is
human-induced”, “The evidence is incontrovertible... We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases
beginning now”, “...human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) account for most of the
warming since the middle 1900s”, “It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be
attributed to human activities”, “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently
clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”, “The
global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping
gases”, “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century
is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
Further, the “Oregon petition”
(here) with an
alleged “31,000 scientists” denying global warming has been
debunked as a farce.
To scientists, this is
settled matter: “To them, climate change is no longer a debate over science.”
There was another petition, called by some the “Leipzig Declaration”, with an
alleged 100 climate scientists signing on. It too,
does not hold water.
“[It] is the work of S. Fred Singer, who was also loudly wrong about the stratospheric ozone
problem. [It is claimed] that Mr. Singer’s declaration was signed by more than 100 climate
scientists; but it, too, dissolves under scrutiny. The list contains 80 signatures, mostly an
odd assortment of television weather persons, dentists, lab assistants, civil engineers and others
who, despite their names’ appearing on the list, say they have never heard of it.”
(For you liberals unfamiliar with it, The Blaze is where many conservatives are getting their
news these days. They claim to be “not interested in
left or right”, though they clearly cater to the right.)
“Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) recently  appeared on the radio program... to discuss his
new book... Inhofe maintained that only God can change the climate, and for us to believe that
our actions can alter the seasons is pure ‘arrogance’. He said: ‘...The Genesis 8:22 that I use
in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and
heat, winter and summer, day and night.”
My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be
able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.’ ”
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this is that no climate scientist ever
has said there would cease to be seasons, or cold, or nighttime. Ever. Not once.
The second-most ridiculous thing about Inhofe’s use of scripture here is that the very
same Bible, a book written primarily for a people who lived off the land, makes very
strong indications that humanity should care for the Earth and be responsible about the
ecosystem. Just a few examples:
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
25:24: “Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption
of the land.”
24:4-6: “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens
languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws,
violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the
earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very
few are left.”
2:7: “I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came
and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.”
It’s not even necessary here to get into a discussion about whether scripture should rule
politics, when the scripture itself is very fat with the theme that actions have consequences
— not only in the spiritual world and afterlife — but here and now in the physical
world. It teaches the opposite of Inhofe’s position, which is (apparently): it doesn’t matter
what you do, God will make sure there are no negative consequences.
I might, on some future date, add more points to the above list. For now, if you’re an
here is a decently-written blog entry
(written by a scientist)
that lists “25” debunked arguments against climate change.
I first posted about this on my blog in November 2012. I
posted a much newer edition
in September 2014. I then decided to make it an updatable page on my website instead of blog entries.
Following are some of the comments from that original blog entry:
______________________________ Richard R. Barron says: 2014.09.23 at 18:53
Okay, now that you’ve laid out HOW deniers are denying, please address WHY. My guess? Money.
______________________________ Wil C. Fry says: 2014.09.24 at 08:08
Why is a good question, though often in real life I’m more concerned with *what* you do,
rather than why. Did you help the homeless to boost your image before an election? Bad motive,
but you did the right thing. Did you hand off your keys that night you were drunk because you were
afraid of going to jail? Bad reason, but maybe you saved a life.
My guess is there are different reasons depending on who they are. The normal person, say Herbert
Average, does not make any money off denying global warming. Herbert has been misinformed by people
he trusts — preachers, politicians, family members, talking heads on Fox News, and so on. Herbert
likes to think he’s inquisitive but really doesn’t have time to do much research or critical
thinking; he works many hours at a low-wage job with no benefits, has children from two marriages
that he pays for, and is constantly getting his truck fixed. He doesn’t have time to worry about
something as incremental as this.
But there are MANY politicians whose top donors are Koch Industries, Chesapeake Energy, and so on,
who simply cannot afford to admit it’s real. Not only would they lose their donors in the next
election, but their constituents would not vote for them. Their constituents drive aging pickups
that get 13 miles to the gallon, and leave them idling in the yard for 45 minutes at a time, just
because they can.
There are many others, and I sympathize with them, who simply share a personal dislike for people
like Al Gore, Michael Moore, Hillary Clinton, etc., that’s hardened into: “I can never agree with
them, even if they’re correct.”
______________________________ shari says: 2014.09.26 at 22:16
As for why, I think one reason is fear. Not so much fear of the climate change, though that may
figure into it, but fear of being duped or taken advantage of. The adamant deniers that I’ve
listened to fear the loss of personal liberty, and think everything that might lead to that loss
must be a conspiracy of some sort. The thinking goes something like this: “‘They’ want complete
control, so they make up this global warming stuff in order to gain authority over the private
citizen. It may start small, like telling me I can’t burn my own trash, but power corrupts, and
there was that story just the other day about (fill in the blank), and it won’t end until cars are
outlawed and we have a one-child policy like China!” Because these folks are in a mental war, and
the climate change people are clearly on the side of the enemy, the whole thing must be propaganda.
On another thought, did you see the recent survey in Britain that showed those who were least
concerned about climate change actually lived more environmentally friendly? They concluded that
group was mostly the elderly, who conserved electricity out of habit, while the young people were
“concerned” but still liked their gadgets and creature comforts.
______________________________ Wil C. Fry says: 2014.09.27 at 09:38
I completely missed that possibility, Shari. Thanks for pointing it out. It makes sense.
However, I wonder how much of that fear is generated (mongered) by a few people with large
interests in fossil fuels and other big business that profit from things that harm the environment
in one way or another.
I remember in Oklahoma, when the gas prices began really spiking in 2005/6/7, and we were
reporting on it almost daily with photos of gas station price signs. LOTS of people in our coverage
area made more money when oil prices rose; they began leaning on our publisher and he eventually
told us to quit publishing photos of gas prices, no matter how high they rose.
There was also quite a bit of pressure to “go light” on stories about environmental improvements,
“tips to save gas”, etc.
As in past surveys, the worst offenders express the least guilt about the size of their
environmental footprint. British, German, and Swedish consumers not only feel the least remorse
but also are the most likely to say they won’t change their ways — even after being told how low
their country has scored on the Greendex.
‘People in the north tend to point to government as being responsible rather than
individuals’, Whan says. ‘There’s a lack of individual ownership of the
Almost the same thing; just looking at it differently, I guess.
I saw a post yesterday, from a Republican (!) that if you use your smartphone for X hours
per day, you’re using as much energy every year as a refrigerator. Not sure if it’s true.
(He neglected to mention that a refrigerator uses less electricity than any other appliance
in your home.)
______________________________ Wil C. Fry says: 2014.09.27 at 09:49
As for “personal liberty”, yes, when Killeen recently announced that recycling would become
mandatory, there was a huge outcry from the “personal liberty” crowd (everyone in town except
me, I think), that it was their right to not recycle. Sigh.
While I have libertarian leanings, as you know, real life gets in the way. How many laws would
there not be, if enough folks behaved responsibly? If no one ever played their music too loud,
there wouldn’t be laws against it. But enough people did it, and enough of them refused to
correct it when asked, so the rest of us made the law.
Basically this process:
1. There’s no law against it
2. Someone points out there’s a problem with it.
3. Behavior is not corrected.
4. A law is passed, restricting personal liberty.
For a libertarian, the problem is in Step 4. For me, the problem is Step 3. :-)