Sunday, February 16, 2014
It's Time. Now, Put Up or Shut Up!
Once in a hundred year floods. Once in five hundred year drought. Once a century this or that. Now that we're beginning to routinely calibrate severe weather events on dynastic scales, climate change denialism.
Writing in The Observer, Henry Porter says it's showtime for the denialists. If they have a coherent theory to support skepticism, it's time they held a convention and laid out their evidence for all to see and refute. If not, it's time for them to step aside and let the grown ups deal with climate change.
They are always the sniping antagonists, rarely, if ever, standing up to say: we believe in the following facts and here is our research. It is a risk-free strategy – at least for the moment – that comes almost exclusively from the political right and is, as often as not, incentivised by simple capitalist gain. Hearing Lord Lawson argue with the impeccably reasonable climate scientist Sir Brian Hoskins on the BBC Today programme last week, I finally boiled over. It is surely now time for the deniers to make their case and hold an international conference, where they set out their scientific stall, which, while stating that the climate is fundamentally chaotic, provides positive, underlying evidence that man's activity has had no impact on sea and atmosphere temperatures, diminishing icecaps and glaciers, rising sea levels and so on.
Until such a conference is held and people such as Lawson, Lord Monckton, Christopher Booker, Samuel Brittan and Viscount Ridley – names that begin to give you some idea of the demographic – are required to provide the proof of their case, rather than feeding off that of their opponents, they should be treated with mild disdain. I don't say deniers should be banned from media outlets, as the website Reddit has attempted to do, but just that there should be agreement that they must now qualify, with argument and facts, for the balanced coverage they receive in such places as the BBC.
At the outset I emphasized "coherent" theory which is something the denialists have utterly failed to achieve. Instead, the denialist community, when it convenes in supposed conferences, is a cornucopia of radical notions that are generally irreconcilable, inconsistent and contradictory, yet always equally embraced. Now, when you've got twelve people in a room, each with his own reality, you're in an asylum.