Denying the Deniers
It’s a pleasure to launch a book so desperately needed. From 2008 the believers in climate change – rational, evidence-focused, concerned types – started to be challenged by the deniers. The mainsprings of denial are worth examining. That’s why this new book by Haydn Washington and John Cook was worth launching. I did it with pleasure and pride.
It’s called Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand. It deals with the different aspects of climate change denial, the different manifestations of this obsessional passion. I won’t regurgitate them.
My own view is that people don’t like the threat of a rupture – a terrible rupture – in the human narrative. They threaten us. But we’ve had them before and we know that they are real: the outbreak of World War I, the Great Purges of Stalin, the Holocaust were all shocking, unforseen and beyond the imaginings of any science fiction writer. They were ruptures in our human narrative.
So too, with human activity changing the functioning of the planet. It is an understandable human reaction to fling this frightful news back in the face of the scientists. The poor bastards are simply bearing witness.
The bulk of the book assembles and rebuts the arguments of climate change deniers. I like this example – climate change deniers saying that extinction of species has happened before and is in fact normal. This comes from Plimer, for example. Plimer doesn’t reference any of the experts in the field (and the authors list them). Further he doesn’t counter the argument that because extinction has occurred in the past this precedent hardly justifies humans taking action to hugely speed up the process and wipe out thousands of species.
Plimer’s common technique is to cite another in his own camp. One is Lomborg (who is now actually accepting the science of climate change after years of denying it). Another denialist approach is to dismiss all the actual experts in these fields of science as fools who don’t know what they’re doing.
So it is with the argument that there have always been changes in global temperature. As Washington and Cook point out, invoking the scientific consensus, it has never happened at the speed we are now seeing. Currently global warming is the most significant for the last 10,000 years.
The book is being launched in Canberraby John Hewson and a special edition being distributed to all federal MPs.
( By the way, Australia’s one carbon trading scheme is the NSW G-gas Scheme, launched by me in January 2003. My government’s other actions on this front were : banning clearing of native vegetation by landowners – a huge anti-greenhouse step – and ambitious new energy standards for housing reducing their g’house impact by 60 percent. Queensland followed us on native veg, our actions enabling Australia to reach its Kyoto targets ).