Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How to respond to global warming deniers

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalizing its 2007 report, the BBC helpfully examines "10 of the arguments most often made against the IPCC consensus, and some of the counter-arguments made by scientists who agree with the IPCC."

For each argument, the so-called "sceptic" presents his/her case, which is then rebutted with a "counter." I would hasten to add that many of these arguments aren't really arguments at all, at least not in the scientific community, given that widely established facts are known, consensus achieved. The case made by global warming deniers are driven by what I will henceforth call the three "ayes": ignorance, ideology, and industry.

This case is given credence (and a platform) in the media, if not in the scientific community, largely because its backers are powerful and because cowardice and unprofessionalism run amok in newsrooms everywhere. These backers, many of them from the energy industry, buy up advertising space, generating revenue for the conglomerate-sized parent companies of major media outlets. To say that they or their mouthpieces, from lobbyists to pundits, are merely sceptics is to make them seem reasonable. They're out there spinning lies, pushing a partisan and pro-industry agenda, not contributing to some admirably healthy debate with genuinely skeptical objections to the consensus on global warming and the climate crisis.

Still, they're out there, a lot of them, well-funded and influential, and for that reason we who do not deny global warming but see it for what it is, namely, the most pressing crisis of our time, potentially a world-catastrophic phenomenon, need to be prepared to challenge their claims and assertions, to respond with the truth to their lies and distortions.

It is not an argument, and they are not skeptics, but the BBC has nonetheless provided a useful tool. Make sure to read it and to keep it handy.

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