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Denying the Deniers

May 17, 2011

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 ).

  1. May 17, 2011 1:11 pm

    “Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand.”

    On the shelf next to: “God is Real, only my view counts, not yours.”

  2. May 17, 2011 1:25 pm

    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.

    Nietzsche foresaw it. And climate change has been heralded by everyone in the know from Carl Sagan to Maggie Thatcher some decades now. As I see it the trouble is one side you have heads in the sand and on the other you have caret blanche support for anything that purports to address the problem regardless of its effectiveness.

  3. John Capito permalink
    May 17, 2011 3:28 pm

    As a believer in Climate Change, I’ve never really been privy to the details that Climate Change Deniers use to justify their stance. I’ve decided to pick up this book Bob, not only to enlighten myself but so that I can then mount an argument for my position, should the need ever arise.

  4. Watson permalink
    May 17, 2011 4:58 pm

    As the authors have already accepted, the deniers won’t read this book. That’s why they’re called deniers, not ‘sceptics’ which is a term they have managed to debase. I prefer to use the term ‘climate creationist’:-

    “Rather than undertake science to provide a body of data in support of a special creation, creationists operate in the areas of fringe science picking over the carcass of science like hyenas. Many of us would be more comfortable if creation ’scientists’ actually did basic scientific research and were able to demonstrate that basic science is wrong…

    Creation ‘scientists’ use information out of context, fabricate data, misquote, or use 200 year old data (limited by the instrumentation at that time) to [pretend to] disprove evolution and to disprove elementary physics.’

    And who do you suppose is the author of this polemical attack on creationism/evolutionary denialism? Why its none other than our favourite denier Prof. Ian Plimer from his 1994 book “Telling lies for God”

    You have to admit that for a science based technological society, the amount of credence given by the news media to irrational shouters is absolutely appalling.

  5. christine swan permalink
    May 18, 2011 7:06 pm

    I’m a sceptic. I haven’t converted. As far as labels go, I like “warmist” but won’t insist on it, if “believer” is what the other camp prefers. Some believers sound almost overwrought – I believe, so others must! Remember what the old Jew of Galicia had to say about 100% right.

    • LouLou permalink
      May 19, 2011 12:04 pm

      It is interesting that these man-made-climate believers are likely to be the very types that denigrate the (billions worldwide of) believers in God, for example.

      Perhaps not surprising though. After all, nature abhors a vacuum, and it may just be human nature to replace a belief in traditional religion with one in a newer, “trendier” one e.g. global warming/climate change/whatever Orwellian name they come up with next.

      Only problem is the man-made-climate believers want to impose their beliefs on the rest of us (irrational? non-evidence-based? careless? souls) at a potentially huge financial and social cost for little proven environmental benefit – but evidently a nice, warm fuzzy feeling for them. And if we dare to question this, we’re nothing but ostriches. So much for rational, intellectual, democratic debate!

  6. Peter Pando permalink
    May 29, 2011 6:52 am

    Dear Mr Carr,

    With more than 500,000 petrol-burning vehicles joining China’s traffic jams every month, no matter who accepts climate change doctrine or rejects it, there are looming issues for our economy centred on the effects that massive-scale oil-burning has on air quality and fuel-affordability. We know how scarce commodities were obtained and apportioned by communist bureaucrats, so free-thinking Australians need all the help available to ensure our nation isn’t enslaved by such regime, or driven to a halt by oil-thirsty newcomers to western ways. The ‘us-versus-them’ climate change rhetoric (with the ordinary old ostrich analogy reproduced yet again) is a devastating blot on Australia’s public debate, and gives a communist-style ‘tick-the-box’ ideological power over outsiders to those on government’s HR payroll. If Australian government doesn’t want to see a self-subverting brain-drain it needs smart people to put an end to the polarised debate, not perpetuating its least mature aspects.

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