January 2010 Archives

Sources and resources for investigating climate denialism

The links here can help one better understand climate denialism and science arguments.

Recent postings at the blog of Anarchist6[zero]6 demonstrate a superb understanding of the psychology of climate denialism in Understanding the Mind of the Denialist.   It follows up with The Ratchet Hypothesis.   and supporting articles like the Purpose of Conspiracy Theories.

Greenfyre has perhaps the best discussion and collection of links on the subject  The reasons for using the term “skeptics” to identify those who question climate science and “deniers” for all others are discussed at:   http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/denier-vs-skeptic/

Greenfyre maintains a listing of the more prominent deniers  



The science site of RealClimate hosts a wiki that names the deniers   it Includes links to other debunking sites as well as lists of individual climate deniers     Well reasoned and crafted responses to common contrarian Arguments.

Wikipedia on Climate Change Denial

Denial campaigns have been attributed to individuals or groups that are funded by special interest groups whose financial interests are challenged by efforts to combat climate change, and have in particular been attributed to those associated with the energy lobby.  Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot and Ellen Goodman, among others, have described climate change denial as a form of denialism.   As a pejorative, other commentators have criticized the term as an attempt to delegitimize skeptical views, and for injecting morality into the discussion about climate change.

Note that there is extensive discussion on this issue.. and a serious investigation should include reviewing the Wikipedia History of the article edits.   No matter what your search, Wikipedia remains an excellent source.  It is now clear that man-made greenhouse gases are causing climate change.   The rate of change began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term

England’s Met Office asks: Do climate scientists really agree about climate change?   Yes.  The overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree on the fundamentals of climate change — that climate change is happening and has recently been caused by increased greenhouse gases from human activities.
The core climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was written by 152 scientists from more than 30 countries and reviewed by more than 600 experts.  It concluded that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in man-made greenhouse gas concentrations.

Getting Skeptical about global warming skepticism   http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php   A summary of what the science says on each skeptic argument.


DesmogBlog’s Disinformation Database   http://www.desmogblog.com/global-warming-denier-database   An extensive database of individuals involved in the global warming denial industry.
DeSmogBlog thoroughly investigates the academic and industry backgrounds of those involved in the PR spin campaigns that are confusing the public and stalling action on global warming.   If there’s anyone or any organization,  ( i.e. scientist, self-professed “expert,” think tank, industry association, company) that you would like to see researched and reported on DeSmogBlog, please contact us here and we will try our best.

Myths vs. Facts in Global Warming: This news and analysis section addresses substance of arguments…   http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths   The main fallacy noted is that most arguments are facts out of context while others are simply false representations.   When the facts pertaining to the arguments are viewed in context relevance becomes obvious.   Global warming is happening and it is human caused.

Anti-global heating claims - a reasonably thorough debunking   http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2007/07/23/anti-global-heating-claims-a-reasonably-thorough-debunking/

Classic essays

How to talk to a Climate Sceptic   http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php   They have been divided and subdivided along 4 seperate lines: Stages of Denial, Scientific Topics, Types of Argument, Levels of Sophistication. This should facilitate quick retrieval of specific entries. Individual articles will appear under multiple headings and may even appear in multiple subcategories in the same heading.

In the politics of denialism we should remember the late Johnny Rook’s essay: Why Climate Denialists are Blind to Facts and Reason: The Role of Ideology  http://climaticidechronicles.org/2008/06/18/why-climate-denialists-are-blind-to-facts-and-reason-the-role-of-ideology/

Don’t forget the videos Naomi Oreskes PhD….


Scientist and renowned historian Naomi Oreskes describes her investigation into the reasons for widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of scientific consensus.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio   She probes the history of organized campaigns designed to create public doubt and confusion about science.

Global TV News segment on the PR efforts by the oil and gas industry and the junk scientists that support the climate change denial lobby in Canada and the US.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIGrkVoa78o  Also features desmogblog.com.


Global warming messages for children of all ages

Preparing our children for their future is the most awesome responsibility we can bear.   As we discuss global warming, the first thing we can do is listen.   It is they who are preparing us - if we choose to hear.

Build-A-Bearville presented a controversial video for kids at Christmas time.   It plays in the background as children play the RPG style game at www.buildabearville.com.   Perhaps because it is telling your kids that global warming is going to melt the north pole, kill Santa and all the polar bears, it was deemed too political for including in their library.


Asking a few mothers about global warming, I learned no matter how old their children, there is some anxiety about climate change.  Some mothers are quite careful about bringing up the subject.   Karen Hall in Seattle advises “Be careful about feeding them obsessions.  I would not say anything, just put off talking about it because kids can care too much about things and you don’t want them to carry collective guilt.   With pre-teens, we just don’t want to add to their emotional burdens.  I don’t say anything.”   She prefers to listen, but later in conversations she told her teenagers that limiting human population is key.   “The people who have the most children are often the least able to properly raise children”.   And later her son wants to talk of solar power and federal energy buybacks, and the cost of electricity at different times of the day.

The conversational finesse happens during those teaching moments.  The informed dialog can include phrases like “I have no idea”, and “I am not sure how to answer that” and “we don’t know right now”.   Honesty is key.

Right now I want to say something like:

I’m sorry… we are all sorry that our climate is gradually getting warmer.  This means stronger weather.   People and industry are the biggest cause.   We have been putting too much pollution into the air.   We are trying to fix it and clean it up, but it is very hard to stop.  The best we can do is try to make it less bad and try to adjust to the changes.  As you grow up, the world will look a little different than today - you might see the sea levels rise, it may be warmer, or wetter or dryer.   Sometimes we may have some really bad weather.   You are very smart and adaptable.  And you will have some good ideas about what to do about it.   We want you to be happy and healthy and do what ever you can to find some solutions.

Like any important subject, we must honor the emotions without feeding fear.  It should be an authentic dialog using simple, positive words.   We want to exchange concerns and useful advice.  Kids are worried, and they already know there are not clear solutions.   And they need all the support we can give.  I am happy that schools are doing all they can - but it is distressing to learn that the influential Texas State Board of education is pushing textbooks that offer “different views on the existence of global warming” and are suppressing the science that “that our climate is warming and that humans are responsible”

Our media is a battleground for the hearts and minds of our children - just like the Joe Camel tobacco campaign…now it is Clean Coal, and pushing out science from common view this is a message war.   Popular media disappoints us by ignoring and denying this problem.   But the importance of the global warming message is right up there with “look both ways”, “wash your hands”, “cover your cough”.  Perhaps we should just add a phrase like “just try to adjust to it”.

Every parent will decide what to say and when.   Kim McGilivray in Seattle says “the one story I would want my kids to know to help them face the future is simple: believe your instincts, and let nothing deter you from following them”. We should encourage them only “to grow and expand in the best directions to nourish their souls.”

Julie in Boston says about her grandchildren ( twin toddlers ): “I don’t know whether being wild, smart, etc., will cut it under the circumstances that will exist.”

Pamela, a Seattle mother of 3 young adults - just advises them to “don’t have babies. Get conscious and be aware”.

Laurie, a mother of two teens in Massachusetts advises, “moms get your kids to stop being doped up on their flat screen tv’s and get them into the real 3D world.”

Gail in New Jersey says it with an elegant photo in her blog WitsEnd http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2010/01/oh-this-is-what-i-want-for-children.html

Finally, the concluding words to gifted high school students from climate journalist Ross Gelbspan: to Brookline High School observing the International Day of Climate Action.

If you let yourself be paralyzed by fear, then you will be forfeiting your sense of future - as well as your responsibilities as citizens of the global community. But if you view the climate crisis as the overriding challenge of your generation, it leaves you with two tasks - one to finish and one to begin.  If you put your efforts into rewiring the world with clean energy, you will win that battle.  The trends are in your favor.  And if, in the process, you can take back some of the political power of the coal and oil industries, that will give you the kind of empowerment that is critical to your second task - which is helping create a new kind of society out of the rubble. 

You will encounter some chaos and some breakdowns in the future. Some may be frightening.  But it is precisely those breakdowns that will create the space for people who can help reconstruct a society which is truly based on principles of social justice.  The crisis will be giving you the opportunity to help shape a global society in which exploitation is replaced by much more equality between rich and poor, in which of all the planet’s inhabitants have the right to participate in a truly democratized world and, ultimately, in laying the groundwork for a whole new era of peace - peace among people and peace between people and nature.

But do remember this.  You will be pioneers at the leading edge of history.  But you will also be flying blind.  There is no body of expertise — no authoritative answers — for this challenge. We are crossing a threshold into uncharted territory.   And since there is no precedent to guide us, we are left with only our own hearts to consult, whatever courage we can muster, the intellectual integrity to look reality in the eye and an uncompromising dedication to a human future that reflects the combined hopes and ideals of every single person in this room. 

         — Ross Gelbspan (2009)

It is really not helpful to ignore or suppress the problem.  The only thing we should withhold from children is our anxiety — but not withhold our concern.   Sharing our thoughts, and speaking to the issue is an expression of our love and our faith in them and their future. Denying facts, avoiding the issue, and steering them away only makes their lives more difficult.   This is an important choice.

RP 1-10

Wonderful messages aimed at kids:


Site helping inform children of climate change:

   Family Science Days during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5617318652349295608#   A teenager’s view of Global Warming. 14 year- old film-maker Ruby Reynolds explores what we’re doing to the planet and what we should be doing, now to slow down the process of global warming.