Climate Change Truthers
You may be aware of a movement of conspiracy theorists labeled 9/11 truthers. These benighted souls refuse to believe that al-Qaeda terrorists intentionally crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center, killing thousands of innocent people. Instead they blame the government or other shady characters. Their beliefs are not important but the mindset exhibited by the truthers is. You see, they will not stand for any debunking of their theories or even doubts about their beliefs. In this way they are a reflection of the mindset that infects believers in anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Climate change true believers also will brook no dissent nor tolerate any deviation from their conviction that humanity is destroying Earth's climate through CO2 emissions. Obsession, irrational thought and religious adherence to unsubstantiated theories are not limited to political conspiracy nuts.
Members of the 9/11 Truth movement dispute the results of official investigations of the September 11 attacks of 2001. They deny that al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners and intentionally crashed two planes into the World Trade Center buildings and one into the Pentagon, with the fourth unintentionally crashing in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They claim this explanation contains significant inconsistencies which suggest, at the least, a cover-up, and at most, complicity by insiders. Considering all the information that has been uncovered regarding the mass murder committed by terrorists on that day one would think that only the most unhinged among us would doubt what happened, but that could be wrong.
Lev Grossman of Time magazine has stated that support for the 9/11 Truth movement is not a “fringe phenomenon,” but “a mainstream political reality.” Others are not so charitable, relegating truthers to the lunatic fringe. Regardless, who and what the truthers are is not my primary reason for mentioning them on this anniversary of one of the most barbaric acts of the 21st Century. What I wish to discuss is the stiff necked intolerance with which they treat those who doubt truther doctrin.
If you pay a visit to the 911truth subreddit web page you will find the rules for posting listed along the right-hand side of the page. Here is the introductory paragraph, taken verbatum from that site:
Welcome to 911truth! The purpose of this subreddit is to present and discuss evidence showing that the US Government's version of the events of 9/11 cannot possibly be true. Submissions or comments supporting the official version, including links to sites purporting to “debunk” the 9/11 Truth Movement (depending on context), are considered off-topic here.
A list of posting rules follows. Rule number one states: “Stay on topic. Off topic comments are subject to removal.” Basically we will stand for no disagreement and we don't want to hear your stinking evidence that what we say isn't true. This caused me to reflect a moment that wonder, does this attitude remind you of any other group of delusional fanatics?
For example, the site realclimate.org states this on its “about” page: “The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.” Of course, they get to arbitrate what science is valid and what isn't. And aren't the economic impact of carbon emissions policies, when weighed against their benefits, of great importance to the AGW debate? No matter, this site is not alone. Other sites “remove the politics” from the debate by claiming to concentrating solely on the science. So do those backing AGW limit themselves to reasoned scientific debate? Hardly.
For example, speaking on Australian national radio climate campaigner Naomi Oreskes claims that “ A shadow of ignorance and denial had fallen over people who considered themselves children of the Enlightenment.” Of course the arguments of the derogatorily labeled deniers should be discounted. In an article on Politico, titled “Ignore the climate change deniers,” Dylan Byers cites the BBC and Slate:
BBC journalists are being sent on courses to stop them inviting so many cranks onto programmes to air ‘marginal views’ ... The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues. (from the Telegraph)
Obviously, the topic most abused in this way was the reality of global warming. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention at all. ... But more broadly, most TV news shows do this, especially when they are done with a talk show format. It’s all too easy for a news program or other venue with a biased ideological objective (cough cough Fox News cough Wall Street Journal cough) to bring on people who sound authoritative, but who are in fact simply cranks or contrarians with outlandish claims. (from Slate)
Slate's Phil Plait goes even farther:
Just as we’d be a whole lot better off if all our politicians acknowledged the reality of reality, and our media kicked folks who think otherwise to the curb. I applaud the BBC for its stance (as well as The L. A. Times and other venues), and hope to see a lot, lot more of this in the near future.
Yes, there are no open minds there. But then these are not scientists, these are media acolytes who worship at the alter of climate change. They believe all bad things are caused by humans and refuse to consider any other prospect. But media airheads are not the only cheerleaders for AGW. Even US President Barack Obama has weighed in on the matter. In a recent speech Obama said denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese and that others duck the question. He elaborated:
They say, 'Hey, look, I'm not a scientist.' And I'll translate that for you: what that really means is, 'I know that manmade climate change really is happening but if I admit it, I'll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot,'
It's always good to claim that you are the one being muzzled when silencing your opponents. Obama's address to about 8,000 graduates from the University of California, Irvine, comes two weeks after he announced a contentious plan to dramatically cut pollution from power plants. Obama is certainly not a scientist but he is undeniably a climate change true believer.
What about among scientists? Surely they would not arbitrarily silence their colleagues out of prejudicial belief—they are supposed to follow the facts, the scientific method. Ask Dr. Roy Spenser, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr, Dr. Judith Curry or any number of other respected scientists who have offered contrarian views what kind of treatment they have received from their colleagues. The case of Dr. Pielke, who only mildly deviates from the AGW party line, is instructive.
At the beginning of 2014, Roger Pielke Jr. was named as a contributing writer for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. Shortly after that, Pielke, a climate policy scholar and political scientist at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, published an article at on that site titled, “Disasters Cost More Than Ever–But Not Because of Climate Change.” This article was a direct reflection of his testimony before the US Congress.
Critics pounced immediately in blogs and on Twitter. That harsh reaction was then reported and commented on at Salon, Huffington Post, Slate, the Columbia Journalism Review, and elsewhere. Eventually Pielke resigned from the site. Keith Kloor, a blogger at Discover, interviewed Pielke about the uproar the FiveThirtyEight post generated:
Well, that first piece was written on a subject that I have written on many times before (and perhaps as much as anyone) – disasters and climate change. The short essay was perfectly consistent with the recent assessments of the IPCC. The fact that some folks didn’t like it was not surprising — most anything on climate change is met with derision by somebody. What was a surprise was the degree to which the negative response to the piece was coordinated among some activist scientists, journalists and social media aficionados. I think that took everyone by surprise. I learned some new things about certain colleagues and journalists — both really good things and some really pathetic things. Seeing a campaign organized to have me fired from 538 also taught me a lesson about the importance of academic tenure.
Bear in mind Pielke says he accepts that humanity is having an effect on the climate and that his findings echo the IPCC reports. But even mild dissect from the radical view of CO2 emissions—that they are creating a looming climate crisis—was enough for him to be attack mercilessly in the media and online. The global warming true believers managed to hound him off the site, in effect costing him his job (fortunately he still has his post at the University of Colorado). This type of response, aimed at stifling scientific dissent, has been repeated over and over. Climate alarmists insist that there is no debate, yet science always allows debate and reexamination of theories.
Dr. Judith Curry, formerly Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, publicly doubted climate science dogma and went from colleague to outcast almost overnight. Her sin? She publicly stated that there is so much uncertainty about the role of natural variation in climate change that she doesn't know what's going to happen. She admits a catastrophe is possible, but warming could also turn out to be not such a big deal. As a result, warmist bullies like Joe Romm attacked her mercilessly, along with sites like Real Climate and Climate Progress. Scientific American labeled her a “climate heretic” and proclaimed: “Judith Curry turns on her colleagues.”
These are responsible, thoughtful scientists who have been attacked, whose only crime is to not agree 100% with the supposed consensus view. The message is clear, toe the party line or we will destroy your reputation and ruin your career. Does anyone think that such reprehensible behavior should be part of science?
The fact is, if your science is truly well founded, if there is incontrovertible empirical evidence to back up your theory, then all the ad hominen attacks and attempts to muzzle the dissenters are not needed. The very fact that such attacks take place show that those so adamantly supporting AGW are of the same mindset as the 9/11 truthers. In other words, close minded pedants who cannot even imagine that they might be wrong. I am not saying that climate change alarmists are the same as terrorists, but I am saying that close-mindedness and even vindictiveness can afflict us all. They are not terrorists, but they are, in essence, climate change truthers.
On a more somber note, as we remember the atrocity that was the World Trade Center attack, we should be aware of other barbaric acts being committed around the world. Those committing these heinous acts often justify their actions in the name of religion, usually to the horror of most who follow that religion. The perpetrators of such crimes against humanity will not vanish if ignored, they will continue their blood soaked ways until good people build up the courage to eradicate them. Longing for piece will not protect us. Those who deny evil exists are fools—just take a look at the videos on YouTube. Evil must be confronted and destroyed.
Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.