Since last month is, yet again, a record-setter for abnormally high global average temperatures, I thought now would be a good time to post this list of tactics used by denialists to deny, obfuscate, misdirect, or otherwise impede our willingness to take action to reduce global warming.
#1. Deny that global warming exists. Contradict or disparage the data. Accuse scientists of cherry-picking, and publishing biased interpretations. Dismiss all signs of global warming as “just weather.”
#2. Where global warming is undeniable, deny that it is man-made. Compare the emissions of a single car to the emissions of a volcanic eruption, in order to make man-made sources of carbon seem trivial. Point to climate variations in prehistoric times as evidence that the climate change is a purely natural phenomenon. Ignore the fact that “natural disasters” are also natural.
More below the fold.
#3. Where man-made global warming is undeniable, question or deny that any negative consequences will result. Emphasize the amazing versatility and adaptability of humankind and of human science. Ignore any millions/billions of poor people from third world countries who will suffer the worst impact of global warming. Remind people that we all have air conditioning and other comforts now (if we’re well-to-do Americans).
#4. Where man-made global warming with negative consequences cannot be denied, claim that the cost of doing anything is too high. Emphasize the uncertainty of success, and the impact on the economy. Warn of impending job loss due to reduced profits. Insist that concerned individuals should just be content to reduce their own carbon footprint, and leave everyone else (especially industry) alone.
#5. When it becomes clear that we must do something, co-opt the remediation effort, and subvert the process to funnel yet more cash into industry profits. Claim to have been on the right side of science the whole time, and to be the only people capable of addressing the problem. Announce impressive projects without regard for feasibility, and devote significant portions of the budget to PR.
#6. When it becomes clear that industry efforts are ineffective, deny that anyone could possibly have foreseen the consequences of man-made global warming. Pretend to have discovered the problem only recently. Insist that earlier data was badly flawed, and/or deliberately distorted to promote unsavory political agendas.
#7. When all else fails, blame liberals, secularists, and scientists for everything. Claim that God is judging us for our failure to listen to conservatives and our refusal to punish people for being different. Ask why, if we knew about global warming so far ahead, did we not do something about it then? Imply that liberals, secularists, and scientists are causing global warming on purpose, as part of an evil plot to use natural disasters against conservatives.
Reading this over, I realize it sounds hopelessly cynical. At the same time, looking back at the history of tobacco regulation, of leaded gasoline, and of the Iraq war under Dubya, I have to say there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. It’s only a matter of time before we see all 7 gambits being used in connection with global warming as well.