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ETpro's avatar

What science will global warming deniers move on to denying when Earth's climate is very obviously ruined and causing massive disasters?

Asked by ETpro (34208 points ) May 19th, 2013

We face a rather dismal future now just with the CO2 level (400 PPM) currently in Earth’s atmosphere. If we stopped all fossil fuel consumption today, and switched entirely to clean energy, we would still continue to warm throughout this century, warming enough to threaten human populations and cause mass animal and plant extinctions. Yet instead of stopping or even slowing emissions, we are continuing to ramp them up. The models for the climate over the rest of this century with continued and increasing CO2 emissions are truly frightening. And these models don’t even take into account the likelihood that rising temperatures will trigger the release of 1.4 to 2.8 trillion metric tons of currently ice-trapped methane, a greenhouse gas that is 75 times more harmful in its first year in the atmosphere than is CO2. The ”Profits before people!” crowd brought the USA alone 350,000 deaths a year in defense of profits for Big Tobacco before they finally conceded that smoking isn’t actually good for you and nicotine is actually addictive. When the disaster these same science deniers are enabling through their opposition to anything that might limit Big Coal and Big Oil’s profits finally impacts them so painfully they can no longer claim global warming is a hoax, what will be the next scientific fact they claim is a all lies?

It’s interesting that most of today’s deniers, if they are old enough to have been around when Big Tobacco was waging it’s disinformation and junk science campaign against the very clear science showing the severe health risks of smoking; were science deniers then, too. Same people. Same “Profits before people!” agenda. Just a different set of scientific facts to deny. Today, the scientific consensus is just as solid that the planet is warming rapidly, the CO2 levels in our atmosphere are rising rapidly, and human activity is causing it as medical evidence against tobacco use was back then. We see stark evidence of global warming all around us in
receding glaciers, melting Arctic sea ice, and the increase in number and intensity of extreme weather events.

Just as with tobacco, eventually the mountain of evidence for anthropomorphic global warming will grow so massive that only the truly insane will be able to deny it. But the deniers will move straight on to denying something else science has established. Any idea what it will be? Be brave. Take a SWAG. To be sure, it will be some sort of a profits before people issue.

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46 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

I imagine the next step is to deny the benefits of water sanitation. We’ll hear all about wastewater treatment turning us into zombies, water fluoridation being a Communist plot, and how this could all be cured by allowing more good old American feces into the water supply.

Then, of course, gravity will be replaced by a new theory of intelligent falling.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

That trickle-down economics is viable and effective.

flutherother's avatar

Mathematics will be next and they will tell us two and two makes five.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m going with Flat Earth! Come on, do you see any bend? No!
Round Earthers want us to think Australians walk upside down? Ridiculous . They all would have such headaches.
And those pictures from NASA? All photoshopped.

bossob's avatar

Chemically tainted food is the only way to feed everyone on the planet.

ragingloli's avatar

They will deny that the Nazis were right wing extremists and instead claim that they were left wing.
Oh wait, they are doing it already.

ETpro's avatar

@SavoirFaire @SadieMartinPaul, @flutherother, @LuckyGuy & @bossob It’s sad but true that @ragingloli,‘s “Oh wait, they are doing it already.” disclaimer applies not just to denial of Nazi politics but to everything all of you mentioned.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I believe that the so-called deniers are actually believers, but are prisoners of their political party, and specifically the crackpot Tea Party wing that simply is far removed from reality.

My strong belief is that most intelligent politicians realize (and hear from their constituents) that global warming is real. But political money and power is in the hands of those who have the most monetary gain to make by denying warming, so if these politicians want to be reelected (and who doesn’t?) they have to go with the money influence, not with their populations, or with what reality tells them.

It’s another example of wilfull blindness.

mattbrowne's avatar

The discussion with the deniers isn’t about science. It’s about emotions. We need to change our strategy. The fossil fuel industry has hired excellent marketing professionals who are aware of the full spectrum of human emotions. Therefore people who are concerned about the climate have to create good marketing strategies as well. Communicating numbers like ‘the 2012 average annual concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 394 ppm’ is not good enough. It will soon reach 400 is not good enough. We need messages everyone can understand. And we need to repeat these messages millions of times again and again, in every forum, every blog, every newspaper, every email…:

1) Denying man-made climate change is like denying that cigarettes are addictive.

2) Denying global warming is like denying an increasing population of the United States.

3) Denying that CO2 and CH4 are greenhouse gases is like claiming that the planet Venus is made of green cheese.

4) Denying climate change is like walking in circles outside the bathroom while your bladder is ready to explode.

5) Denying climate change is like a lobster holding its breath before being dropped into a boiling pot of water.

6) Denying climate change is like sipping iced tea in your front yard just after you received a package of dead fish wrapped in newspaper from Don Corleone.

7) Telling people that CO2 is fertilizer for plants is like telling people to eat more vitamin D pills.

8) Telling people that the use of fossil fuels is cheaper than green technology is like telling people that cars without seat belts are cheaper.

9) Linking a shift to green techologies to the end of modern civilization is like linking a shift to smaller computers to the end of information technology.

10) Blaming global warming on solar activity alone is like blaming car accidents on weather conditions alone.

11) Pointing to colder winters as a sign that global warming isn’t real is like pointing to the occasional smiles of a raped woman as a sign that she was never raped.

Some of these messages were actually created by Jellies. I keep a collection of them. Additional suggestions are very welcome!

We need to hit the deniers hard, creating feelings of embarrassments. We need to make them feel stupid. Too much is at stake here. It’s time to take off the gloves. This isn’t about numbers anymore. It’s about the future of life on our planet.

bossob's avatar

@mattbrowne That’s a great list; thanks for compiling it.

You said: “We need to hit the deniers hard, creating feelings of embarrassments. We need to make them feel stupid.”

I understand what you’re saying, and I agree it would work for rational people who think for themselves. But looking back over the last few years, there seems to be a shortage of rational, thinking types who are capable of feeling embarrassed and stupid.

ETpro's avatar

@elbanditoroso I’d like to think that most Republicans are sane, but 46% of Americans believe that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. They’re nearly all Republicans.

@mattbrowne‘s list may be a tool, and it will probably help win over the open-minded. But I have to agree with @bossob. Most won’t realize they live in a reality based universe till the environment they are busy despoiling picks up a shovel and repeatedly smashes them in the face with it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@bossob, @ETpro – Normally, I’m against hurting people’s feeling, but in this case I have to make an exception. Too much is at stake. I was hoping that some of the messages work for irrational people as well, because the messages are simple. Even the dumbest person will have a feeling that Venus is not made of green cheese, don’t you think?

bossob's avatar

Every once in a while, I stumble across some research that concludes that a certain percentage of the population (in the 30% range) is hard wired to blindly accept the positions of their ‘leaders’ in government and religion. These people can be intelligent, hard working, and ambitious, yet they are willing to let someone else do the hard thinking when it comes to certain areas of their lives. This phenomenon has been observed in many countries and occurs regardless of political and economic structures.

It’s the one explanation I keep returning to when I become flummoxed by the topsy turvy world of the far right: they can’t help themselves.

That leads me to the conclusion that any process that attempts to return to functional pragmatic government in the U.S. will have to start at the top with the ‘leaders’. Fat chance of that happening in the foreseeable future given the current crop of Tea Party politicians.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@mattbrowne I think the problem is that several items on your list are also denied by a large number of those who deny climate change, while the rest are so out there that those who deny climate change will also deny that climate change is anything like them. It won’t be effective because they will either deny the putative analogue or reject the comparison (e.g., “well, cigarettes aren’t addictive” or “it’s nothing like Venus being made of green cheese”).

We have to remember that most climate change deniers believe they have science on their side. They don’t, of course, but there is enough pushback from scientists and pseudoscientists who say that the majority are covering up the truth for those who don’t want to believe to rationalize their self-deception. A few of your points make for good rejoinders to specific arguments—(10) and (11) stand out to me in particular—but they aren’t complete argument in and of themselves.

If we really want to change the conversation, I wonder if the best thing to do might not be to drop all talk of “believers” and “deniers.” This sort of talk seems to treat the issue as if it were still an open question or a matter of opinion. There are too many people who take terms like “science denier” as a badge of honor for such rhetoric to do any good. Instead, we need to discuss the issue the way we discuss goblins or phlogiston. People who believe in these things are just wrong.

mattbrowne's avatar

@bossob – If the 30% number is correct, wouldn’t this mean that the total number of stubborn climate change deniers merely following their leaders is less than 15%? About the other half would follow Democrat leaders who are concerned about man-made climate change. This leaves 70% people who can be influenced. A lot of them might be undecided and a good marketing campaign could convince them of the dangers.

mattbrowne's avatar

@SavoirFaire – You are making very good points. Perhaps the strategy must be this:

A) Start with thought-provoking simple messages, like the ones above
B) Back it up with science, when the messages are challenged

I believe that in the meantime the vast majority of people in the West know that nicotine is addictive. This was different 30 years ago. That global warming is real can easily be shown by reading thermometers all across the earth over several decades. This isn’t really science. It’s checking the temperature and recording it, which a small child can do. A greenhouse gas experiment in some chemistry lab is also a straightforward thing to do. But if “science denier” is seen as an honor badge such experimental proof won’t do any good.

Shinimegami's avatar

I deny Creation Science, ID, Climate Science, Numerology, Astrology, Phrenology, Cheiromancy, Alchemy, other dubious ideas some call “Sciences”. Some real sciences or studies less firm of others. You build “Straw Man”, is illogical, if have only bad reasoning have no facts. Why “Global Warming-Climate Change-Global Climate Variation” have many name changes like “Genesis 1 & 2-Creationism-Creation Science-Intelligent Design”? Make me suspicious when change names, swindler Al Gore use it scam much money, is more beliefs not science, etc.!

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami Yes yes! Al gore used his millions to drown out the message of the helpless fossil fuel industry, because they only earn 40 trillion dollars a year while Al Gore earns perhaps as much as 50 million. ~

Shinimegami's avatar

@ETpro, you evade issue, not reply when some scientists say “climate science” use false premises and bad reasoning, you sound like bllind believer of quasi-religion of “GW-CC-GCV”. You not comprehend some “sciences” and philosophies less firm of others. You build more straw men. Is easy observe Al Gore is treacherous, unprincipled crook, sell out own sister when receive bribes. Many men own fossil fuel firms. Al Gore use “GW-CC-GCV” scam greatly increase his assets. Al Gore is your holy prophet, is really wholly profit. He put money first, even far ahead of family.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami I am sorry, but I have no idea what you are trying to say. I know English is not your first language, and I try to make allowances for that, but it becomes difficult in complex debates.

From what I could parse of what you wrote; No, Al Gore isn’t anything like my prophet. The Koch Brothers are worth 100 times what Al Gore is, and were fabulously rich before he was even born. They are deeply invested in Fossil Fuel exploitation and they have been funding, junk science and think tanks to push scientific disinformation efforts for over 30 years. It’s utterly ridiculous to compare the two and claim they are on even playing fields.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami Actually, The original question said nothing about Al Gore. In my personal opinion, he is far from a holy man or prophet. He’s also not a scientist. I think he tried with what skills he had to sound a warning about a very real threat, but I look to scientists and specifically climatologists to provide accurate information about the level of threat that continued expansion of CO2 releases into the atmosphere will pose to human existence.

Regarding solid evidence, there has been a great deal of it lately. This just came out today. If you believe that the facts shown there are being controlled by Al Gore, it is you and not me that considers him a deity, an evil one perhaps, but omnipotent nonetheless.

Shinimegami's avatar

@ETpro Again, cruel unprincipled man say cannot understand me, de facto attacks evade real issues. You blindly believe Al Gore, try excuse him, blame someone else, then deny that. Christians apologize Bible errors same manner. Never hear of Koch brothers, hear much of Al Gore, is villain. Are many oil companies. You say something ridiculous, that not true. You deny excesssively.
Al Gore is heartless thief, swindler. He not want warn anyone, just want create con game. Climatology not mature science, comparable of psychology, teleology, etc. at least, surely same level of creation science, astrology, numerology, etc. I say some “sciences” and philosophies less firm of others. You build more straw men and try defame me. I not say Al Gore control everything, is absurdly insulting you claim that. What “THIS”? Is not facts. Believers of GW-CC-GCV” chant religiously, display blind faith of hoax.

ETpro's avatar

No, @Shinimegami I don’t blindly believe Al Gore or anyone else. I believe in the scientific method of inquiry. I go where scientific evidence takes me, and believe what I see till better or conflicting evidence comes along. I’d be utterly delighted if we could, in fact, burn all the fossil fuels on Earth as fast as we wished till cheaper clean, renewable alternatives came along. But the science says we cannot. Whether Al Gore picked up that scientific message or not is irrelevant.

To believe that the effects we are now seeing of global warming are a hoax perpetrated by Al Gore, you have to believe that Al Gore caused the Arctic sea ice to melt. You have to believe that he’s somehow manipulating the unprecedented melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, as well as causing nearly all the glaciers of Earth to recede. You have to believe that Al Gore caused the last decade to be the warmest in the past 10,000 years. You also have to believe he’s making the sea level rise at roughly the rate that science predicts. All these things are FACTS that have already happened. All of them are verifiable. Scientists could NEVER get away with claiming these things happened when they could easily be reviewed and disputed. If you think science works that way, you have a profoundly flawed grasp of science, and that is truly sad.

It is you who is claiming that all this evidence is a hoax perpetrated by Al Gore.

When you level such claims, what do you deserve other than derision for it?

The Koch Brothers are together worth $80 billion dollars. They control most oil refining in the USA. They pour hundreds of millions of dollars per year—far more than Mr. Gore could part with and remain out of the poor house—into funding junk science and disinformation to protect their financial interests in continuing to exploit oil and coal.

ETpro's avatar

By the way, welcome to Fluther. While your English is sometimes difficult to decipher, at least you are able to communicate in it. I know only a few words of Japanese. Your fresh perspective is welcome here.

I will debate as fiercely as an Orca when I think someone is wrong, and that their misinformed view puts us all at risk, which is the case when it comes to “Climategate” sic. But please don’t take that personally. I am not trying to prove you are a bad person, I’m suggesting that you may be operating on bad information. If you are able to show me I am wrong, and I am the one having bad information, I will change my view in a heartbeat. I am not the sort who adopts a position out of veneration to some God or man. If I have to eat my words, I know I will be a better informed person for it.

But you are just way off base claiming I worship Al Gore or any other human or deity, for that matter. Well, maybe I’d worship Beyoncé Knowles if she’d let me, but that isn’t going to happen. :-)

Shinimegami's avatar

I think is mostly or only leftist Democrats of USA blindly believe Al Gore’s “GW-CC-GCV” scam, rest of world have doubts. Science have evidence, mathematics have proofs. Believers of “GW-CC-GCV” 110% certain, that not scientific. Flaws at idea, is not cetain. Some studies firmer of others. “Climate science” not firm like physics, chemistry, etc., more like astrology, phrenology, numerology, cheiromancy, etc. White American Facebook friend say “People” magazine say Beyonce Knowles sexiest woman of 2012, not list Asians however, he cancel subscription. Koda Risa, Ozawa Natsuki, Komatsu Miyuki, Nanao Nao, Akiyama Rina, Kumada Yoko, Suzuka Rin of Japan sexier of Beyonce Knowles.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami It is YOU who is obsessed with Al Gore. It is YOU who first introduced that name. And you have refused to deal with ANY hard facts destroying your claims, instead continuing to have your straw man duel with Al Gore. I tire of this nonsense. And lord knows I son’t need even sexier and more unobtainable women to dream about.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami I just came across this fascinating video on the Slate Magazine website. Perhaps this musical representation of global warming will get past artificial barriers that language introduces. If it fails, and if you continue to insist the warming we are seeing is all Al Gore’s doing, I’d really like to hear your theory of how that one man has influenced global air temperature (the air temperature measured around the planet in a given year and averaged) over a span of years more that twice as long as his own lifetime? Such a claim is very hard to believe, and I will certainly not accept it when you provide not one scintilla of evidence to show that it is true or that it even could be true. By what mechanism did Al Gore control world-wide air temperatures 68 years before he was born? How is he continuing to drive them upward today?

Shinimegami's avatar

No certain evidence GW true, burdn of proof is yours.

ETpro's avatar

97.1% of Climatologists and an overwhelming majority of peer reviewed papers say global warming is happening and human activity is the cause the is the cause. Thermometers seldom lie, and they agree with the aforementioned climatologists. Thirteen of the hottest years since weather records have been kept occurred in the past 15 years. For the first time since man has been plying the oceans in large ships, the Arctic sea ice is thin enough this year that 200 ships have been allowed to take the Polar route. That is four times any previous years number of ships and until recently, there WAS no polar route.

That is hard evidence. It is not evidence that could be fabricated by some hoaxster. Junk science denying that any of that is happening, however, can easily be churned out by the PR firms and right-winged think tanks funded by the $40 trillion per year fossil fuel industry in defense of their enormous profits.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami This article was published yesterday in the Journal, Nature. It documents the early signs that rising Arctic sea temperatures are already leading to releases of methane gas formerly frozen into permafrost and undersea methane clathrates. If gigatons of methane bubble into the atmosphere, then warming and sea level rise will proceed at paces we have not even imagined in our previous climate models. Methane in its first year in the atmosphere is 75 times as powerful in its greenhouse effect as is CO2.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami To add some VERY easy to see evidence, there is video this video color-temperature map of the entire Earth from 1950 to 2012. It takes just 14 seconds to watch, and the meaning is beyond clear.

ragingloli's avatar

inb4 conspiracy

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ETpro's avatar

Ooh, who is posting flame bait on a Global Warming thread. That’s not going to help cool the climate.

Shinimegami's avatar

@ETpro, is quite illogical use only one source. Must look objectively at many sources have opposing ideas if want find truth. I see at other questions you have Confirmation Bias of left wing beliefs. Lunatic Left ideas are your dogmas. Form premature belief they true, then see only data apparently support biases, ignore opposing ideas and data. Like religious fanatic ignore strongest refutation of groundless beliefs, only look at data seem support biases even if weak or absurd. “Climate science” not firm study. Science have no absolute certainty, no 100% proof. Mathematics have proofs, Science have evidence, must look objectively at all evidence. Is illogical claim one source prove anything.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami Aha. Anything other than your right wing bias is lunatic, and you are unbiased? Give me a fucking break! What a JOKE!

ETpro's avatar

I find this article; informative. How many climate change deniers publish in peer reviewed journals. In a recent study, 97% of the climatologists who have published in peer reviewed journals agreed that global warming is real and man made. That is about as much agreement as you are likely to find among credentialed scientists. Of course, to conspiracy theorists, that just proves how huge the conspiracy is. It involves the entire world of science and all the nations in the UN.

But when is the last time conspiracy theorists actually predicted something in detail in advance, and it actually came true? You can consult science and find out the exact location and the time to the exact second where a total eclipse of the sun will occur 1000 years in the future. What can conspiracy theorists make work? Nothing. There is a reason that conspiracists are not published in peer reviewed journals, and it’s not a conspiracy. It is due to the fact that their “work” does not stand up to even the most cursory review of supporting evidence. Here’s an example of the stuff that passes for “conclusive evidence” in the mind of conspiracy theiroists.

ragingloli's avatar

fucking rainbows, how do they work?

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli Isn’t that sad. Laughably sad. The government is messing with our sunlight.

SavoirFaire's avatar

”[It] is quite illogical use only one source. [You] must look objectively at many sources [that] have opposing ideas if [you] want [to] find [the] truth.”

Quite so, @Shinimegami. The mere existence of sources that deny climate change is happening, however, is not a good reason to doubt the existence of global warming or reduce our confidence that it is occurring (that would be to commit the argument from moderation fallacy, or something close to it). Moreover, @ETpro has not been using only one source. He has provided articles from numerous sources, whereas you have provided no sources at all. Instead, you have provided an inarticulate slurry of complaints containing neither arguments nor evidence. So while it is certainly worthwhile to keep abreast of the latest data to see whether or not it overturns the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, you have not yet presented anything of the sort.


“Science have no absolute certainty, no 100% proof.”

You seem to be committing the argument from ignorance fallacy here. We don’t need 100% proof in order for one view to be more reasonable than another. The best available data tells us that climate change is happening. Therefore, we should believe that it is happening unless it comes to pass that new data is gathered that either disproves or seriously undermines the current scientific consensus. That’s how rational belief formation works.

Shinimegami's avatar

@Savoirfaire, I see many people look only at one or few sources have bias they like. Etpro cite one source above, you wrong, cannot or will not see it. Is mostly American lunatic left Democrats believe 110% of GW-CC-GCV, I not American, am objective, not want believe or disbelieve it, just see no conclusive arguments. Burden of proof is yours if you claim it exist, you are illogical, accuse me falsely, show you have bias. Not commit argument of ignorance, just state scientific principle. Is quite obvious you not understand Logic. Science use inductive logic, have no absolute proofs, some people claim GQ-CC-GCV is 110% certain. Mathematics have proofs, use deductive logic.

ETpro's avatar

@Shinimegami You do not get to self define as objective and then label all who disagree with you as biased. Don’t call people lunatics simply because they disagree with you. All you are doing when you do that is showing what a profound level of bias YOU bring to the discussion. If you wish to prove something, cite peer reviewed papers. Provide proof. Don’t spout unintelligible gibberish that sounds sort of like philosophy.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Shinimegami The OP alone cites six sources:

http://globalwarming.berrens.nl/globalwarming.htm
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/03/04/205600/science-nsf-tundra-permafrost-methane-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-venting/
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/05/17/global_warming_climate_scientists-overwhelmingly_agree_it_s_real_and_is.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retreat_of_glaciers_since_1850
http://www.ecowalkthetalk.com/blog/2011/02/01/pen-hadow-melting-arctic-sea-ice-and-how-it-will-affect-asia/polar-sea-ice-melt-nrdc/
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/science/earth/extreme-weather-grows-in-frequency-and-intensity-around-world.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

There are several more scattered throughout @ETpro‘s various replies. This is a simple, objective fact. That you deny something so easily verifiable greatly undermines your credibility.

As for climate change, it is not just American Democrats who believe in it. I believe it, for instance, and I am not an American Democrat. More significantly, consider the various countries that have signed onto the Kyoto Protocol. Even if we only consider signatories with binding targets, that still adds Australia and most of Europe.

If you want conclusive arguments out of a discipline that never even claims to offer them, then of course you will be disappointed. But no one has claimed that science has given us 100% proof that climate change is progressing exactly the way and for exactly the reasons that the current theory claims. The point is that the evidence is overwhelming. That is why it constitutes an argument from ignorance fallacy to demand more. You are mistaken about what it takes to meet the burden of proof in scientific matters, which is why your focus on the lack of a deductive proof here brings you into fallacious territory.

You say I don’t understand logic, but I teach logic. And it is becoming increasingly clear that you have only the faintest idea of how it works. I have not denied that science uses induction, after all. I have only pointed out that the lack of a deductive proof here in no way justifies denialism. That you continuously fail to understand this is why it is so hard to take you seriously.

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