Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Facile Denialism

I feel like I'm seeing more hardcore denial regarding climate change -- not just people who believe that man has no influence on today's climate, but who deny even that there has been any warming, that atmospheric carbon dioxide has a greenhouse effect, or even (as I saw in a blog comment the other day) that the Stefan-Boltzmann law describes blackbodies.

For example, Alan Caruba, a climate writer for the conservative organization Accuracy in Media, writes:
Plainly stated, CO2 emissions have zero effect on the weather or the climate.

Just for fun I wrote to him and asked how he explains the discrepancy between the Earth's surface temperature (about 14°C) and its blackbody temperature as observed by satellites (240 W/m2, or -19°C), and all he wrote back was "Global Warming was and is a hoax. Trying to dazzle me with your CO2 BS won't work. I have read and heard to much CO2 crap at this point to care. It has zero affect on the climate and you know it."

I don't think he even understood the question, let alone had an answer. And this is the person some organization pays to write about their position on climate change? Do they honestly think they're convincing anyone, anyone at all?

I think it was Andrew Revkin who said this, but it does seems that the more such crude, facile denials appear the more you can be sure that not only is manmade climate change a huge [probably unsolvable] problem, but the more even the denialists know it too. It seems they can't even go to the trouble any more of even trying to make an argument.


Dano said...

I think it goes in waves. The clueless gullibles seem to get this way after some finding or event that refutes their self-identity. Soon there will be some tiny event - like a climate scientist farting at a dinner - that will get these dim-bulbs going again. Just wait. You'll see.



Steve Bloom said...

Reading Krugman daily, it's striking how the same syndrome affects economics. That there are joint roots in the Reagan-era wingnut think tank proliferation seems clear, although the seeds were planted earlier.

IMHO this is the gaping hole in Oreskes' analysis. You can't really understand climate denial without understanding its broader context.

In terms of who's being convinced by any of this denial, I think the primary intent is to preach to their own choir to keep them motivated and focused. There's also the effect on the Overton Window, and in AIM's case in particular trying to give denialism a veneer of respectability so that the media can keep treating both sides equally.

It's a little ironic that you quote Revkin on this subject since he has his own version of the problem.

Steve Bloom said...

Here's a recent example of climate-related Congressional testimony from a fellow at AEI, supposedly one of the more respectable think tanks. As Krugman says, there's not a lot of thinking that goes on at those tanks.

I waited with bated breath for the AEI guy to analogize to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but sadly was disappointed. Anyway, now this guy is a member of the Hartwell Group. Perfect.