Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Climate Change Deniers: Intellectual Laziness Personified

Yesterday I commented on the arbitrariness and inadequacy of the Copenhagen Accord, as confirmed by a new report from the United Nations Environment Program and the World Resources Institute.  In the closing paragraph, I offered the following observation:

“The fruits of solving the climate change crisis – renewable energy, a vast reduction in global pollution – will benefit all human beings, regardless of whether the purported dangers of global warming are exaggerated or not.”

Unsurprisingly, I received the following comment from an unabashed climate change denier:

“Boring,

No reasonable evidence apart from a few shaky correlations have emerged to support the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis.
Therefore, considering as we have not even approached the temperatures of the Holocene Maximum (and other historical warm periods) (where CO2 concentrations were low) the whole of AGW theory is falling apart, and most people are seeing the duplicity.

I would not give a penny to help reduce emissions of that life giving gas CO2 let alone encouraging the breaking of our economies to try and stop the world from ending, and most sensible people are doing the same.

In other words ‘Are you Serious?’”

Rogerthesurf, as he calls himself, clearly failed to read my post in its entirety, for his comment fails to respond to my contention that remedying the purported causes of climate change would benefit humanity immensely, regardless of how severe the real potential dangers end up being.  Roger’s comment – torn directly from Fox News talking points – reveals much about the mindset of the average climate change denier.  Full of half-truths and written in pseudo-authoritative language, Roger apparently believes himself to be some sort of climate expert.  But a closer analysis of his response betrays the intellectual laziness – and arrogance – that one would expect from a typical Fox News viewer.

“No reasonable evidence apart from a few shaky correlations have emerged to support the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis.”

First, note how Roger uses the pseudo-scientific sounding title “the ‘Anthropogenic CO2 Causes Global Warming’ hypothesis.”  He even abbreviates this later as AGW, clearly intending to denote its status as an unfounded theory.  (Something leads me to suspect that Roger might treat the “theory” of evolution with equal disdain, but that is for another post.)  Second, observe how Roger makes the authoritative proclamation that “no reasonable evidence” exists to support the “AGW.”  And yet the “AGW” is a “theory” that has been subjected to rigorous peer review within the scientific community, and that a consensus has existed among relevant specialists for at least the last four decades.  So how is it that Roger can speak so confidently – without offering any evidence – about a topic in which he is in stark disagreement with the vast majority of the highly educated scientific community?

“Therefore, considering as we have not even approached the temperatures of the Holocene Maximum (and other historical warm periods) (where CO2 concentrations were low) the whole of AGW theory is falling apart, and most people are seeing the duplicity.”

Here Roger throws out an arbitrary scientific-sounding term to sound more convincing.  Ooh, the Holocene Maximum.  Now, I am not a climate scientist, so I will admit that I did not know what the Holocene Maximum was prior to looking it up on Wikipedia.  But I’m guessing most Americans don’t know what it is either, and I’m also guessing that Roger only knows about it because he read or heard about it on some right-wing propaganda fountain.  And I’m also willing to wager that Roger understands very little about the actual implications of the Holocene Maximum, and how it relates to current climate change.

The Holocene Maximum was a warmer period in the earth’s history, which lasted from approximately 9,000 B.C. to 5,000 B.C.  According to Roger, this is somehow evidence that warming we are currently experiencing could not possibly be attributed to human activities.  Obviously – to everyone but Roger, that is – this is a non sequitur.  No one is disputing that the earth was warmer and/or cooler in the past.  What we are asserting, however, is that the current changes in global climate that we are now experiencing are due to the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – and there is ample evidence to support this, in spite of what our lazy friend Roger would like to believe.

“I would not give a penny to help reduce emissions of that life giving gas CO2 let alone encouraging the breaking of our economies to try and stop the world from ending, and most sensible people are doing the same.”

This last sentence is so chock-full of fallacies I don’t even know where to begin.  But let’s start with his reference to CO2 as a “life giving gas.”  Now, I will not dispute the scientific fact that CO2 is a necessary requirement for life on earth.  But Roger apparently does not understand that too much CO2 is treacherous, as evidenced by our neighboring planet Venus.

Second, no one is “encouraging the breaking of our economies” in order to avert the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change.  It is ignorant – or intentionally dishonest – to make such a ridiculous assertion.  Remedying the causes of climate change should be seen as an opportunity for vastly increased economic and social development.  How could harvesting renewable energy sources do anything but contribute to an explosion in global wealth and productivity?  If the United States lead the effort in developing more effective tools for harvesting wind, solar, wave and geothermal power, the entire world would prosper, with the U.S. riding at the pinnacle of the economic boom.  Such energy sources are undeniably the path of the future, so why delay their advent any longer?  If we devoted a fraction of what we spend on our military to developing the means to harness renewable energy sources, we would be able to leave behind fossil fuels entirely within 1-2 decades.

Finally, no one is claiming that the world is going to end as a result of climate change.  Regardless of what happens, humans and most plants and animals will survive.  However, life will be dramatically different, and the harshest impacts of climate change will lead to untold suffering among billions of people.  Lack of water and food, flooded coastal areas, and increasingly turbulent weather will generate mass migrations of refugees on a scale unprecedented in human history.  And that is what we hope to prevent, but people like Roger still cling to denial because they are simply unwilling to examine their own contributions to the crisis, and rearrange their lives accordingly.

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