There are a lot of people out there—unqualified, un-degreed, un-peer-reviewed people—who actively reject the consensus among climate skeptics. These people are rank deniers.
These bold casuistry mongers should cause us grave concern. If they can refuse to admit something so obvious as the inaccuracy of climate models, who knows what else this temerarious rabble would deny? You know which historical incidents I mean.
Deniers! How they vex me!
Listen: I and my fellow skeptics have taken great pains to present a coherent, logical picture of the vast uncertainties inherent in predictions of the future. We have written article after article, blog posts by the thousands, appeared on interviews too numerous to count, published books, lectured across the globe.
And every time we look, it’s better than we thought! Yet the simple facts we preach won’t sink into the skulls of deniers. Our words just bounce off their ears and fall to ground where they are gleefully trampled.
Who knows what mischief this unschooled mob is capable of? Should we allow their dangerous, unpatriotic—even treasonous!—follies to taint the views of ordinary folk? Should we do nothing as their paranoid ravings run roughshod over peer-reviewed research? Perhaps arresting and jailing the most obstinate of the denialists will give them pause.
One candidate and serial abuser of reason is reporter John Gibbons. You won’t have heard of him unless your unrewarding occupation is compiling a nosology of climate skeptic denialism.
Unlike me, for instance, Gibbons does not have a PhD from an Ivy League university; neither has he submitted his ravings to the scrutiny of peer-review; nor is he a scientist of any kind. Apparently his main qualification to opine on matters climatic is his willingness to believe the worst.
Like all big-name deniers, Gibbons is probably deep in the pocket of Big Green (Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, etc.). In one way, we can understand the Gibbonses of the world, can we not? All that money—the walls of the offices of Big Green are practically papered with greenbacks—would tempt all but the most stalwart. Money bends minds, billions blinds them.
As an example of how badly public discourse has degraded, Gibbons somehow managed to insert a piece of propaganda into the Irish Times. (Follow the money here: I smell a payoff. The IT has known ties to Big Green; their ads have appeared in the paper, for example.)
Gibbons also posted a modified version of his screed on his website Think or Swim.
Our man is upset at Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, whom Gibbons accuses of being a “statistician or economist.” Actually, Lomberg is a political scientist, or applied economist, who uses statistics to show that mankind is likely to be able to handle any calamity the climate might throw our way.
Lomborg’s sensibility does not satisfy Gibbons, who raves that Lomborg is not an official climatologist. He frets that Lomborg is “hip” and “articulate”, that Lomborg is “telegenic” with a nice smile. Somehow Gibbons has convinced himself that these are damning words.
What angers Gibbons most is that Lomborg presents the view of the skeptical consensus with such clarity and verve. Gibbons says that listening to Lomborg “makes about as much sense as consulting a neurosurgeon or a hairdresser for advice on investing in derivatives.”
But I think it’s obvious what really worries Gibbons. If Lomborg is heeded, Gibbons and other denialists will be out of a job. If the public listens to actual scientists and not to deniers, then contributions to Big Green will dry up: Greenpeace will become an endangered philanthropical species.
If you have the stomach for it, it is worth your time scrutinizing Gibbon’s article, for his methods are typical.
Note the employment of a classic logical fallacy. To whit: in no place does Gibbons refute any of Lombergâ€™s skeptical consensus arguments. Instead, Gibbons, in a long passage of histrionic rants and raves, shakes his fist at Lomberg’s hair and teeth, while simultaneously claiming that Lomberg’s specialty is theatrics!
Notice, too, that Mr Gibbons is not a climate scientist, nor a statistician, nor an economist. Yet he feels qualified to weigh in on these topics. Contradictions this blatant never faze the denier. He has his beliefs—he cherishes them, gazes upon them with the eyes of a lover. Mere words will never convince him that his darling is ugly.
But because I am always willing to help out troubled souls, I pointed out these facts to Mr Gibbons in a comment on his blog. I asked why anybody should listen to him since he isn’t a scientist. I explained how impugning skeptical arguments about the climate made him a denier.
“Denier!” I wrote. “Nyah nyah nyah!”
Not surprisingly, Mr Gibbons did not have the guts to post my comment.