Friday, May 25, 2007

Deniers Declawed

David Suzuki has an opinion piece, which recognizes some of the challenges in the climate change debate:
For some, however, doubting the science of global warming has taken on an almost religious zeal. Those blessed with “knowledge” shake their heads sadly at people who are concerned about a warming planet and are trying to do something about it. They pontificate about how the public has been misled by a few (usually European) academics who rely on “faulty” computer models, socialist biases, or both.

Talking to these people is hard because they come armed with obscure-sounding references about things like the “medieval warm period,” “solar flares” and “hockey-stick” graphs. They seem so sure of themselves that the media still routinely feature these so-called global warming skeptics in opinion articles, television interviews and especially on talk radio.

Media outlets love these guys (yes, they are mostly men and they tend to be the same, often paid, “experts” over and over again) because it stirs things up. These guys specialize in arguing and confusing people, the same way tobacco industry lobbyists did and still do. Having people argue on talk radio is that medium’s bread and butter. And what better way to get people riled up than to have a self-proclaimed “expert” tell everyone that global warming is a myth?

The problem is that some people believe it. Or, more often, it creates just enough doubt for people – including politicians – to ignore the issue. And that’s dangerous.

Suzuki directs people to this series by the New Scientist, which debunks all the usual counters.

Interesting, that Suzuki calls the doubters "religious" in their zeal, because that is another one of the denier criticisms. I've expressed the same frustration as Suzuki, not as eloquently, that we don't have time to debate with these people, and the media does a disservice in fueling what are marginal opinions.

How many times have we seen a blog post on climate change, only to met with a wayward SDA reader, armed with some rogue study to challenge the entire concept. The denier crowd seize on every fringe opinion, all the while ignoring the fact that for every one example to question, you can provide a thousand to support. It is a fruitless and tiring debate, because there is a stubborn mentality that only needs tertiary support to give comfort. In other words, why bother, let's move on.

However, as Suzuki points out, the problem is that the issue is so complex, people that are otherwise occupied, can be influenced by conflicting messages. That doesn't translate into censor, because there are still unknowns, but it really is irresponsible to search the globe for every dissenter, in a fashion that suggests more weight than the true reality. Arguing degree is one thing, arguing the existence seems like old news.

12 comments:

knb said...

As I've said many times here, I think that journalists have self-defined. They seem not to have a mandate anymore and I'm not sure how to force that. Harper may be helping by ticking them off, but they still seem to be in the "Crossfire" mode. I wonder if there are any young journalists coming out of school who are interested in the craft, or are the current installments considered to be their role-models?

I heard an interesting interview with Gore Vidal today. His view of current media makes me look as if I like them. He spoke to some of the Suzuki points, but focussed on who owns them and what they are asked to do. It was depressing. It made me feel as if no one has any honour anymore.

Suzuki using the term religious, is quite brilliant. Turn the tables and argue it with fact.

I can't remember the troll who comes here, biff?, who pastes ton's of bogus links. He's certainly one of the disciples.

Stupid or just trying to spread the lie? I'm not sure, but while he's wasting our time, nothing is being done.

Closet Liberal said...

Scott Adams covers the uncertain everyman view quite ably today in his post here:

My favorite lines:
This is one of the many, many cases where ignorance has utility. I can’t do much to stop global warming, but I can do plenty to ignore it and not worry myself into a coma before I drown in melted glacier water.

the last thing I read alway seems the most persuasive

The comments illustrate Suzuki's point. And that's whats really scary, and why I think the Green movement is doomed to failure. Too damn many on the no side that have bought into the denial cause with religious zeal. We can't win that argument in time.

But I'll be yelling "I told you so!" from my little yellow raft floating on the melted glacier water. Gotta get some satisfaction somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I'm gonna be one of the bad guys here.

Kind of anyway. Firstly I'll be good.

Climate Change is happening. Its very likely changing the earth as we know it for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, regardless what we do next.

We need to put on some brakes and we need to learn how to adapt.

Now I'll be bad.

Global Warming has been good business for Al Gore, David Suzuki, anti-American promoters, and carbon brokers.

Al Gore is back on the political map in the US. Just in time for the primaries. Good for Al.

Our favorite camera shy environmentalist is finding out, just like Greenpeace, that baby seals are good for business. He now has all the publicity, glory and rapt attention groupies of a hot rock band. Dr. Suzuki, take off your shirt!!

People that have political reasons to kick the US have a beautiful segue, a wonderful opening, and a criticism free pulpit. The media is blind to the glass houses of all the people chucking rocks.

The carbon brokers are all going to get very, very wealthy by trading things worth nothing to the earth's atmosphere.

Tomm

knb said...

Tomm, take your political and cynical glasses off.

Do you not think that any of these people do this because they believe in it?

On the other side, there is no belief, it's just about bashing and disputing.

If that is what you are true to, so be it. Don't take legitimate people there with you.

Point of fact, this should not be a political issue at all. It should be what we all concentrate on.

I won't be around to see the result, but I'm here now and I'll fight against ignorance so that truth may come in the future.

Anonymous said...

knb,

We need to do something. We are in agreement.

Where we differ is the need to do "exactly" what the Kyoto Trade Agreement, Elizabeth May, David Suzuki and Stephane Dion stridently demand.

Bullfeathers!

You know my views, because I have made them before. Adapt or die.

At some point all the global political posturing has to become real. I don't mean buying credits from Russia. By real I mean all nations working together to build the better mouse traps that are required and the planting of trees and the reforesting of the planet.

Canada is not a villian in this piece. Canada remains a global solution because we have 10% of the world's terrestrial green lungs. Perhaps we should replant the mountain pine beetle ravaged forests in BC instead of pointing at Harper like he is the body snatcher.

Suzuki, Gore and May are not hero's. They truly believe what they are saying, yes, but why are they finding villains where they don't exist. Why are they picking horses like this is some horse race?

The environmental groups decided back when C30 was introduced, to not play ball with any of this. They saw the global warming issue as a political wedge to get rid of Harper. Does this sound like groups that are truly caring about the environment or groups that cynically don't like right wing politics and ultimately hate more than they love?

Don't fall into the trap of partisanship on this issue. Just because Suzuki received a Doctorate in genetics in the 60's and got himself a TV show does not make him hero material. What would make him a hero to me would be for him to quit playing politics and get his hands dirty. Live what he preaches.

Tomm

Oldschool said...

You are right about climate change . . . it has been changing since the last Ice Age . . . no one has ever explained how the miniscule amount of CO2 that human activity creates effects the temperature on the planet. The science is never settled . . . anyone who says science is settled is nuts . . . Ask David S if the fruit-fly evolution has stopped . . . of course not . . . David is only interested in keeping contributions coming . . . he has lived off of society all his life, and should stick to what he knows . . . BUGS!!
Global-warming shtick will get us $3 a litre gas, rules, regulations and unemployment. Look at the latest brain-dead move by enviro ministre Broten in Ontario . . . banning burning used motor oil . . . making the announcement at an oil recycling plant that has just bought land to expand . . . soooooo lieberal!!!!!

The earth is not warmer today than it has ever been, nor is it cooler today than it has ever been . . . . Kyoto is about removing rights, global socialism (which appeals to most Canucks), and money . . . nothing more!!!

Anonymous said...

Old School - what a pathetic person. Old School must have alzheimers or something.

Can you believe what he wrote - I shake my head.

Dumb, dumb, dumb and more.

Steve V said...

old school

Go to the link, it debunks your asinine logic :)

canuckistanian said...

oldschool is biff, so don't waste your time...he's a lost cause.

Dante said...

Climate change is and has been an important issue. If pro-kyoto activists would just pick up after their own horse droppings and acknowledge when a claim is found to be bullshit (ie hockey stick), decent folk can make up their minds as to who is right on the balance of evidence that is believable. By blindly supporting guys like Suzuki who advocate population density while owning a number of very large properties.

Steve V said...

"If pro-kyoto activists would just pick up after their own horse droppings and acknowledge when a claim is found to be bullshit"

Good grief.

Steve V said...

"found to be bullshit (ie hockey stick)"

Read up, and when you're done, do you mind picking up the verbal diarrhea :) Thanks.