The Anti-Defamation League clearly understands that a “denier” is someone who denies the truth of something. Unfortunately for his credibility and legacy, Roy Spencer does not.
Last week, once-respected climate scientist Roy Spencer went off the rails with a rant about how he would start calling unnamed climate scientists and activists “global warming Nazis.” In response, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Southeast Interim Regional Director Shelley Rose issued a statement that denounced Spencer for “trivializing” both Nazis and the Holocaust. Rather than rethink his position, however, Spencer attacked the ADL for hypocrisy.
Last week I wrote a post cataloguing six significant issues with Spencer’s original rant that sounded “more like paranoid ramblings than the words of someone who should be a respected elder statesman of climate science.” In his attack on the ADL, Spencer took his rant even further, claiming that the “denier” description was a form of character assassination, issuing a blanket defense of anyone and everyone who has been called a denier of climate change/global warming, and implying that only so-called “skeptics” like him really care about the poor.
In his ADL diatribe, Spencer repeatedly wrote that the word “denier” was meant to invoke the Holocaust. For example, he wrote
I am calling out the ADL for not denouncing the widespread use of Nazi Holocaust imagery in public statements made by journalists, politicians, and even some scientists over the last 7+ years towards us global warming skeptics….
…the ADL would appear to have decided (based upon their years of silence) that using Holocaust imagery is OK on one side of the global warming issue, but not the other….
For at least seven years, the Holocaust has been invoked, explicitly or implicitly, to malign the character of those like me who point out that global warming (1) might not be all the fault of humans, and (2) might not be a problem serious enough to warrant killing poor people through much higher energy prices. (all emphasis added)
Just because Spencer repeatedly asserted that the word “denier” automatically invokes Holocaust denial doesn’t make the assertion true. As I’ve pointed out before, the word “denier” does not automatically invoke Holocaust denial. It simply means that someone is denying something. If Spencer wants to continue claiming to be a victim, he would do well to offer evidence in support of his claim, something that is in short supply in both this and his original rants. Emotional appeals and crocodile tears are not evidence.
If Spencer and others don’t like being called deniers, then there’s a simple solution – stop denying fundamental realities of climate science. Because, while Spencer’s asserts that the word “denier” is a “lie,” there are massive numbers of people who reject one or more objective facts about industrial climate disruption.
The infrared properties of carbon dioxide (CO2) are not a matter of scientific debate, and neither is the existence of the greenhouse effect that is a direct result of those infrared properties. Individuals who reject that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (such as most of the “sky dragons” of Principia Scientific International) are not skeptics – they are deniers.
Global surface temperature measurements are robust and have been replicated using multiple methodologies by multiple independent teams composed of both climate realists and climate “skeptics”. Individuals who continue to believe that the surface temperature measurements are corrupted are not skeptics – they are deniers.
The original “hockey stick” graph has been replicated with and without tree ring proxies, using multiple different statistical methodologies, and by multiple independent teams of researchers. Individuals who continue to believe that the “hockey stick” is a fraud are not skeptics – they are deniers.
Climategate has been thoroughly investigated by the UK Parliament, the Oxburgh panel, the ICCER, Pennsylvania State University and the National Science Foundation (focused on Michael Mann), and NOAA, and yet the only allegation of misconduct that wasn’t completely debunked was that of Phil Jones and the University of East Anglia not properly sharing data in response to Freedom of Information requests. Individuals who continue to cling to thoroughly disproved allegations of misconduct coming from those emails are not skeptics – they are deniers.
While the rate of global warming (specifically global surface temperatures) has slowed recently, the actual surface temperatures are still within the 95% probability ranges for of the model projections. Individuals who claim that the recent slowdown in rising surface temperatures climate models are all wrong may be simply ignorant of what the climate models say. But people who still claim that the models are all wrong even after being educated about model projections is not skeptics – they are deniers.
Given the examples above and others, Spencer doesn’t necessarily qualify as a denier. However, his apparent rejection of the observed hockey stick(s), his thoughts on Climategate, and his use of oversimplified climate models, among other things, indicate that Spencer is closer to being a denier of industrial climate disruption than a skeptic.
In his first “global warming Nazi” rant, Spencer went so far as to suggest that part of the problem with climate science was people being too educated, a suggestion that I wrote was “profoundly un-American” given how critical education is to the modern American Dream. In his most recent diatribe, however, Spencer arguably went even further, implying that climate scientists and activists who support alternative energy, carbon taxes or cap-and-trade markets, and the like are responsible for the death of 8 million poverty-stricken children every year.
Spencer should have provided a link to where he got his information from, but he didn’t. The likely source is UNICEF, but what Spencer doesn’t mention is that there’s a lot more to poverty than access to cheap energy. Access to medical care, clean water, sufficient nutrition, shelter, and the like. While cheap energy can help many of these poverty-related issues, it’s not a sufficient condition.
Spencer also fails to mention that there are a hell of a lot of climate scientists and activists who are working to help provide energy to high-poverty regions of the world. The fact that Spencer would even suggest that climate scientists and activists don’t care about the poor says a great deal about Spencer himself, and none of it is good.
It’s true that we tend to save the word “denier” for those to reject objective facts rather than those to reject opinions, but that’s why the word has such punch – if you’re denying something, you’re rejecting some aspect of reality. It’s entirely possible that the ADL understands something about “denier” that Spencer is either unwilling or unable to accept – that “denier” doesn’t implicitly equate whomever is so labeled as a Holocaust denier, and even if it did, it’s one thing to compare a person to a denier of an atrocity, but it’s something else entirely to compare a person to the executor of an atrocity.
Given the self-inflicted damage Spencer’s two rants have done to his own reputation, Spencer would be better served by contemplating why others feel the need to describe him as a denier than continuing to rant and rave against those who would describe him thus.