Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Denialism 2.0 - Even More Dangerous Than the Original

By and large, the pioneers of climate change denialism have moved on.   Those who used to lead the campaign claiming that the theory of anthropogenic global warming is a hoax, a conspiracy, a fraud or  fundamentally flawed, have retrenched.

In his final column for The Guardian, Leo Hickman warns these veteran denialists have morphed into something far more dangerous:

What we are now seeing more of, though, are climate policy sceptics. Yes, some of these are the same characters as before, but who have subtly, artful repositioned themselves over recent years. So rather than claiming that climate science is a hoax, a fraud or fundamentally flawed, they now say the proposed climate policies will have little, if any, impact on the planet's temperature gauge and are therefore a waste of time and money. They know that this is a more tenable (and electable?) position from which to argue their point. (In the UK, only two political parties – Ukip and the BNP - proudly state in their manifestos that they doubt, or reject, climate science; proof, if it were ever needed, that climate scepticism is predominantly built upon a foundation of ideology rather than science. Additionally, the work of James Painter at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford has also highlighted how cultural/media support for climate sceptics varies greatly from country to country.)

John Abraham made an astute point the other day when he said that it rarely gets noticed that climate sceptics have actually conceded a lot of ground over recent years when it comes to the science. Many have begun to adopt a so-called "lukewarmer" position, which means they now accept the basics of climate science but don't think it's worth investing heavily today to prevent or limit a problem that will increasingly hit home in the decades ahead.

...Nothing exposes our species' "future flaw" more than climate change – rarely, if ever, have the history books demonstrated a generation acting selflessly, or with sacrifice, for the sole benefit of generations to come. We are an extraordinary animal in so many ways, but one of our weaknesses is that we operate firmly in the present tense. We jump only when we are in imminent danger ourselves. If not, we prevaricate, delay or turn our heads away. Climate change requires us to fast overcome this flaw…

Hickman, who is moving on to WWF-UK, hits the nail on the head.  The denialists have come up with a better plan.  Instead of their failing campaign to undermine science they've realized it's far easier and more effective to exploit a flaw in human nature, our proven inability to accept sacrifice for the benefit of future generations.


karen said...

I don't understand this way of thinking any more than I understand climate change denial. Doing nothing, or ramping up damage will undoubtedly not help and will more than likely hasten more and worse catastrophes. Even if we are too far gone and cutting our consumption and emissions doesn't do enough good to turn climate change back somewhat, it still will hhopefully not make it worse. Of course, I could never see the sense in gambling of any kind either, so probably my brain doesn't work "right" for these sorts of questions.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Karen. I have long argued that we can't make the future great for our grandchildren and theirs but we still can make it much, much worse for them if we don't arrest our emissions very soon.

Lorne said...

These climate policy skeptics, Mound, are cut from the same cloth as most of our contemporary political 'leaders' who appeal to our selfish natures, encouraging us to think only of ourselves and not the larger world around us.

Although I am a cynic at heart when it comes to our natures, I still believe that under the right conditions and leadership, we are capable of significant and noble sacrifice.

The Mound of Sound said...

Lorne, I do appreciate your hopeful optimism.