10 Failed Climate Change Denial Arguments

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 28 2013 7:45 AM

10 Failed Climate Change Denial Arguments

Sun doesn't cause global warming
GLOBAL WARMING DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY! With apologies to Morbo.

Photo by Phil Plait based on NASA images

If you think the climate isn’t changing, well, I've got some bad news for you. It is.

Of course the climate’s changing. It always does. The problem is on top of that incredibly slow natural variation, the climate is changing due to human influence, and it’s changing fast. Droughts, floods, ice caps melting, fires raging out of control, temperature records broken on a daily basis: This is the new normal.

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That hasn’t stopped people from denying the change and in fact seems to stoke them like dry air and heat waves stoke wildfires. Rebutting the reality-challenged challenges to reality is a full-time job, but Hank Green makes it look easy. Green—one half of the Vlog Brothers—claims he loves simple, powerful ideas.

I believe him. I’ve watched a lot of his videos, and his ability to discuss complex ideas in bite-size pieces is manifest. But he recently put out one which simply slams the door shut on 10 climate change denial arguments, elegantly and with much alacrity.

Nicely done! I laughed out loud when he covered “The Sun’s getting hotter” with a simple, exasperated “No.” The Sun causing global warming is one of the sillier claims of the deniers, because in fact for the past decade the Sun has been less active than usual, but that same decade has been the warmest on Earth. The huge and rapid rise in temperature we’ve seen on our planet isn’t correlated with solar activity at all.

Yet some people still make this ridiculous claim, along with a legion of others. That’s why I’m glad to see some steam gathering behind the idea of media not giving any air to fact-free opinions. I wrote about the L.A. Times decision to stop printing op-eds from climate change deniers (at least when they twist facts to support their position), and now DeSmogBlog notes that the Sydney Morning Herald is following suit.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Mind you, this is not a free speech issue, nor is it silencing reasonable but dissenting opposition. The point is that you’re allowed your own opinion, but not your own facts. You can’t say that warming has paused, or the Arctic ice is rebounding, or whatever is the latest made-up fictoid* used by deniers. If you can’t make your case without making stuff up, then you can’t make your case.

That sounds quite logical to me. I applaud these venues for the decision, and hope it catches on.

Tip o’ the thermometer to @gateian on Twitter.

*I made that word up on the spot as I wrote this, then decided to see if anyone had thought of it before me. I see I’m not the first; the Urban Dictionary has it listed, with precisely the meaning with which I use it here. Still, I like it, and I think I’ll continue to use it.

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