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Climate Denial as Religious Faith

December 27, 2010

The persistence of religious instincts is confirmed for some by attendance at Christmas services but for me by the stubborn survival of climate change denial.

Put it this way, the carbon in the atmosphere is on the way to doubling since the start of the industrial era. Short space of time that, a mere 200 to 300 years. But a big change in the chemical composition of the thin filigree of air that surrounds the planet.

In 2005 carbon in the atmosphere was measured as being 380 parts per million. It is now headed for 400 or more in the next few years. On track to be 560 by the end of the century, double what it was before the industrial revolution.

And the deniers say this cannot – repeat, cannot – have any effect on the climate of the planet.

The bulk of climatologists say it will and present the evidence. The deniers are firm that it cannot, as a matter of faith.

Build even more coal-fired power plants, don’t discourage carbon use and rip out Amazonia and the other tropical rainforests. A grand experiment, “mankind’s craziest” according to The Economist but, no risks, just forge ahead is the deniers’ logic.

The view that we can afford business as usual is a religious tenet
and only explicable as such.

  1. Medusa Knows permalink
    December 27, 2010 8:41 am

    There are no climate change deniers. Climate has changed since day dot. There are, however, those that refuse to drink the UN koolaid. Scamming nations with fear of climate Armageddon to redistribute global wealth? That’s capitalism’s attempt to get the little guy to pay everyone’s share after the elitist gluttony and hubris have sucked the system dry. Guess what, Bob? Average Joe can’t pay anymore ‘cos we’ve been taxed into oblivion already. You’re smart. You figure it out. The good thing is, democracy – despite all attempts to kill it, isn’t quite dead yet -we still get one vote each.

  2. Peter Tait permalink
    December 28, 2010 1:53 pm

    Hi Bob,

    Obviously you do not have access to international media else you would know that:
    – Heathrow airport is just reopening after being closed for 4 days
    – French TV news shows a country shut down by snow
    – Moscow airport is closed for 2 days
    – 17 hours of snowfall dropped 20 inches on New York’s Central Park yesterday
    I suggest you send all available global warming to these areas!

    Here in Morioka Japan I have just finished digging the car out. We had 46cm of snow in 2 days. The locals say it is very unusual to have snow before New Year. It is midday, the temperature is 1 degree (up from -3 overnight) and it is snowing.
    Please send some hot air from your copious supply

    Keep praying, your crap detector is broken


    • Bob Carr permalink
      December 31, 2010 9:09 am

      I quote the following (and see the NASA website at as well):
      “Global warming is the long-term increase in globally and seasonally averaged surface temperatures. It is not the case, nor is it expected, that all regions on the planet, let alone all weather stations, will show the same changes in temperature or rainfall patterns. Many stations have shown cooling, and some small regions have shown modest cooling as well. This does not invalidate global warming theory; it is merely the result of regional variation, and an example of how varied and complex the climate system is.”

  3. January 3, 2011 11:43 am

    I think this article brings out well what seems to me the extraordinary dogmatism of most folk labelled variously as climate change doubters, sceptics or ‘deniers’.

    All rational discussion about the future of complex phenomena must begin with acceptance of imperfect knowledge and uncertainty.

    The strongest argument for effective action to reduce emissions, it seems to me, has always been about RISK. “Mankind’s craziest” experiment is a good way of putting it – crazy not because the odds of failure are so high (in truth, they’re unknown and can’t be known), but because the stakes are nothing less than the future habitability of the planet as a whole.

    An entertaining American high-school teacher called Greg Craven has been promoting this approach for years, to great effect. You and your readers may well have come across his work before, but if not I strongly recommend his website and videos: see

    I wrote a short article introducing the ‘risk is key’ argument on my own blog:

    Meanwhile, the general silliness continues. An icy winter in Britain is cited in a sneering way as ‘proof’ the IPPC is wrong. Unfortunately, a few prominent climate change ‘affirmers’ play a similar game, showing a tendency to be equally dogmatic. The horrific Victorian bushfires on 2008 were cited at the time as proof of climate change by at least one leading Green politician and environmentally-concerned ‘public intellectual’.

    Personally, I’m strongly opposed to use of the term ‘denier’ in the context of climate change. It’s derived from prior use of the term ‘denier’ in the context of debate about the history of World War Two. It therefore suggests similar tactics may be brought to bear by a dogmatic and censorious establishment to stifle dissenting voices, up to and including career persecution, prison and physical assault.

    I’m appalled at a tendency on the part of many climate scientists to refuse to debate so-called ‘deniers’, claiming it only lends their arguments credibility. That, IMO, is utter nonsense. It is not in accord with basic principles we derive from the Socratic Tradition and The Enlightenment. Refusal to engage in open debate on a ‘level playing field’ looks shifty and smacks of charlatanism. What can an articulate expert on climate science have to fear from open debate with opponents in his/her principle field of expertise?

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