Environment/Nature

Roy Spencer attacks Anti-Defamation League for denouncing his use of “global warming Nazis”

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.

IPCC AR5 WG1 Decadal variation in global temperature (IPCC)

IPCC AR5 WG1 Decadal variation in global temperature (IPCC)

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.

NIST measured spectrum of carbon dioxide absorption bands

NIST measured spectrum of carbon dioxide absorption bands

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.

Model performance vs. measured global average surface temperature (IPCC AR5)

Model performance vs. measured global average surface temperature (IPCC AR5)

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 means 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.

25 replies »

  1. From the essay, “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.”
    Actually they regard “greenhouse gas theory” as the dragon, and thus themselves as “dragon slayers.” This is why one of their books is titled, “Slaying the Sky Dragon: the death of the greenhouse gas theory.” Interestingly, evokes some of the same imagery as the twelve-part video series “Resisting the Green Dragon” put out by the Cornwall Alliance. They maintain that environmentalists are anti-Christian proponents of a false religion, and not too subtly implying that they are in league with the forces that will bring the Antichrist of Revelations to power.
    Please see:

    In heartfelt interviews for the documentary, these activists claim that the environmental movement (The Green Dragon) is promoting an anti-religious agenda: Parshall derides the Green Dragon’s “lust for political power” and “spiritual deception,” and calls the environmental movement “deadly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ”; Fischer labels it a “threat to the Christian faith”; Perkins claims that environmentalists are “pointing people away from God and into humanism” and support “an unbiblical view”;…
    The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection
    http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/the-green-dragon-slayers-how-the-religious-right-and-the-corporate-right-are-joining-fo

    Similarly, its national spokesman E. Calvin Beisner uses the terms “anti-biblical” and “blasphemous” to describe Spencer’s “global warming Nazis”:

    Beisner now boasts that approximately half of all Protestant pastors are skeptical of climate change, and charges that “the root of belief in catastrophic, man-made global warming is anti-biblical” and “blasphemous.” (ibid.)

    There is also some overlap between the sky dragon slayers and green dragon resisters. For example, in “Slaying the Sky Dragon: the death of the greenhouse gas theory” on of the authors is listed as:

    Benjamin B. Phillips (Unites States) Benjamin is assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at South western Baptist Theological Seminary’s Houston Campus and a research fellow of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a national network of clergy, scientists, economists, and other experts committed to helping the poor and caring for the environment. Research Fellow at the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, see http://www.ResistingtheGreenDragon.com

    There is overlap in terms of their views. The Cornwall Alliance’s “An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming” states as its first two articles of belief:

    1. We believe Earth and its ecosystems–created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence –are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.
    2. We believe abundant, affordable energy is indispensable to human flourishing, particularly to societies which are rising out of abject poverty and the high rates of disease and premature death that accompany it. With present technologies, fossil and nuclear fuels are indispensable if energy is to be abundant and affordable.

    In this document, they also state:

    What We Deny

    3. We deny that carbon dioxide—essential to all plant growth—is a pollutant. Reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures, and the costs of the policies would far exceed the benefits.
    An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming
    http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/

    It should perhaps come as no surprise that the national spokesman of the Cornwall Alliance E. Calvin Beisner is associated with other orgaizations involved in the disinformation campaign surrounding industrial climate disruption. He

    … is a CFACT board member and an “adjunct fellow” of the Acton Institute, which is primarily funded by groups like ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations and the Koch brothers. Beisner is also an adviser to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which is financed by the oil-backed Earthart Foundation, the Koch brothers, and ExxonMobil.(ibid., “The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers”)

    You can find out more regarding the Cornwall Alliance’s ties to the fossil fuel industry here:

    The oily operators behind the religious climate change disinformation front group, Cornwall Alliance
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/06/19/206237/the-oily-operators-behind-the-religious-climate-change-disinformation-front-group-cornwall-alliance

    … as well as watch a short video meant to promote their “Resisting the Green Dragon” video documentary series.
    Finally, it may be of some interest that a close colleague of John Christy is on the Cornwall Alliance Advisory Board:

    Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D., Principal Research Scientist, Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL, and Lead Scientist, NASA Aqua AMSR-3 Satellite Remote Sensing Program
    Cornwall Alliance Advisory Board
    http://www.cornwallalliance.org/about/cornwall-alliance-advisory-board

    This colleague is also listed as one of the prominent signers of their “Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming”:

    Dr. Roy W. Spencer (Principal Research Scientist in Climatology, University of Alabama, Huntsville, U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer aboard NASA’s Aqua Satellite, and author of Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor);
    Prominent Signers of An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming
    http://www.cornwallalliance.org/blog/item/prominent-signers-of-an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/

  2. I’m troubled by the attack the personalities on the ohter side instead of thire arguments. of course evangelicals are fools, but there’s no point in going down that road. as eleanor roosevelt said, great minds discuss ideas, good minds discuss events and small minds discuss people. this post is not about ideas or events as much as it is about people.

  3. Otherwise writes:

    I’m troubled by the attack the personalities on the ohter side…

    Why just the other side? And what of actual physical threats being made against scientists?

    Please see:

    Ben Santer answered his doorbell one evening and was greeted by a dead rat on his doorstep and a stream of obscenities from a car speeding away. Katharine Hayhoe has been called a “Nazi bitch whore climatebecile” and received e-mails mentioning her child and a guillotine. Michael Mann has opened mail only to watch white powder fall out and a group of Australian researchers had to be relocated to a secure facility after an onslaught of vandalism and threats of sexual violence against their children. What do all of these people have in common besides being subjected to brutal harassment? They all study climate science.

    Why Would A Climate Scientist Need A Quick Course In Legal Self-Defense?
    BY Joanna M. Foster, 2013-11-21
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/11/21/2979131/climate-scientists-legal-advice/

    … and:

    Australian climate scientists targeted by death threats
    Posted on June 6, 2011 by Rick Piltz
    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2011/06/06/australian-climate-scientists-targeted-by-death-threats

    Otherwise continues:

    … instead of thire arguments.

    Addressed where? In the scientific literature? Its been done in the scientific literature that the IPCC reports merely cite and attempt to summarize. The literature has convinced the overwhelming majority of climate scientists and all major scientific organizations that have seen fit to take a position on the issue of industrial climate disruption.

    Please see:

    Signatories of Statements Supporting the Need to Address Climate Change
    http://climate-guardian.com/signatories

    Do you wish to see the arguments addressed at a level that most people can understand with references that can be followed up by those who wish to know more? That has been done, too.

    As examples:

    Skeptical Science: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
    … or on a far smaller scale, Climate Guardian (my site): http://www.climate-guardian.com/avatar

    The second of those links goes into the greenhouse effect with classroom demonstrations, history, including how the ability of carbon dioxide to absorb infrared radiation was discovered in 1859 and the author concluded that greenhouse gases may play an important role in determining our climate, satellite videos showing the atmosphere becoming increasingly opaque to infrared radiation in the band in which carbon dioxide acts, the absorption spectra and even the basis for the absorption of infrared radiation by carbon dioxide’s bending mode of quantum molecular state of excitation.

    Otherwise writes:

    of course evangelicals are fools, …

    I disagree. First of all, the Cornwall Alliance was an attempt by those who oppose action on climate change to respond to the evangelical Creation Care movement that recognizes the need to address climate change. Second, although I am not religious, I believe evangelicals are quite capable of understanding arguments that, at least in my view, are fairly sophisticated. As a demonstration of my belief, please see an essay of mine that I wrote while with the British Centre for Science Education:

    Religion and science
    http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/ReligionAndScience

    Otherwise writes:

    … as eleanor roosevelt said, great minds discuss ideas, good minds discuss events and small minds discuss people.

    In the above essay, Brian Angliss discusses some of the science. However, there also comes a time to point out that people are engaged in a disinformation campaign designed to promote political paralysis or worse. Particularly when we need to address an issue that may easily threaten the food and water security of hundreds of millions of individuals in this century and may have serious consequences for the next five thousand generations.

    • Tim

      It devalues your argument when you deny obvious facts, e.g.,”evangelicals are fools.” I wont bother to dredge it up again, but that’s been empirically demonstrated time and time again. I’m sure some arent fools in the pure sense (intelligence) but rather simply mentally impaired and delusional, but I think “fools” gets us close enough.

      Why do climate change folks get so worked up over what should be an intellectual debate? It always astounds me that you guys get just as rabid as the deniers do. I understand why they go crazy (see above–they’re fools) but not why you do? You’re supposed to be on the side of science and unemotional reason. Why do you feel such an overwhelming emotional need to convince people?

      Is it because you think if you convince them, then we can take action and save the planet? If so, you’re the fool. The numbers just don’t work. There’s no way to curb the use of fossil fuels to a degree necessary to stop, much less reverse the process.

      Is it because they are dissing science? If so, I don’t think the climate science is quite as rock solid as you think it is. I started my career doing environmental models and I can tell you that it’s a far from precise science. The systems are too complex and the interactions too many for accurate long-term modeling. Yes, something is happening and yes it’s almost certainly to some extent man-made, but what its long term effects will be are not so clear. The fact that all the scientists agree and their models all agree shouldn’t give you much comfort. There’s a long list of things scientists once “all agreed” on that turned out to be horseshit.

      Or is it because their stubborness and refusal to yield to logic offends you? Well, good luck then, because their belief system is built on faith, not logic. They’re never going to yield to logic. If they believed in logic, they’d never make it past day one as an evangelical–virgin birth, really?

      The truth is I think it’s something else. I think you climate-types are just being bullies, or trying to be. I think humans feel an overwhelming need to force others to conform to our way of thinking. I think it is a hard-wired, primal form of aggression, and when you guys go all Clint Eastwood on the climate change denialists, I think you;re just being aggressive for aggression’s sake.

      They’re probably wrong, they’re certainly not going to change, so be kind. Dont demonize them, patronize them.

      • Is it possible to get things more backward than this? That it’s not the denialist trolls who visit sites sympathetic to mainstream climate science expressly to snipe and sneer who are the psychopathological cases, but those who bash these trolls when their rear their ugly heads who are the sick ones. The tactic of treating the denialists as if they were beneath notice was tried for years and didn’t work. Half the US population was persuaded by the fossil fuel industry’s immense disinformation campaign. So the climate scientists and their supporters decided to get up on their hind feet and fight back — only to be shamed for being “aggressive” by the likes of you. I say this, of course, at the risk of being diagnosed as someone with serious anger issues. In my view, anyone NOT angry about the fossil fuel industry psy-ops campaign is either clueless or immoral. There is such a thing as righteous indignation, after all.

        • That’s a reasonable argument for the passion, Kelly, although I’m not a denialist troll. I believe the climate is changing and it’s man-induced. I’m less sure about the likely outcomes and possible remedies, but I’m surely not a denialist. I’m just trying to understand why “non-denialists,” like yourself, get so darned worked up over this.

          And as for denialists visiting sympathetic sites, you want that don’t you, so they can be convinced? Obviously there’s no point in only writing for those who already believe.

        • I think it helps to realize that generally, there are two different senses of the term “denier” that get used.
          One is value neutral and simply stems from the distinction between affirmation and denial. In this sense a denier is simply someone who denies rather than affirms. And as both affirmation and denial might also be contrasted with doubt in the sense of doubting, a denier might also be contrasted with someone who merely doubts, e.g., a genuine skeptic.
          The other sense of term “denier” is more closely related to the psychological concept of “being in denial”,, of refusing to acknowledge a given point no matter the arguments or evidence that supports it, that one is personally committed to the denial of something. . This is the sense of the term that I normally use. I would also argue that one may claim to be a skeptic, but if one claims to be skeptical no matter what evidence one encounters, I would argue that one’s “skepticism” is actually a matter of denial in the second sense, a crypto-denier, if you wish.
          Now if someone is a denier in this second sense, generally either due to their financial interests or ideology, then they are largely beyond convincing. If so, I have no desire to convince them. I am interested in speaking to those who are not committed to denial of the science and are still open to reason.
          Fortunately, the good majority of those who do not consciously accept the science are still open to reason. They haven’t decided, typically because they are new to the subject. They are not deniers in the sense that I use the term. Those who are deniers are a small but vocal minority. Their ability to create paralysis lies largely in their ability to misrepresent the evidence, the science, themselves or their numbers.

      • Second Response to Otherwise, Part I of II
        Otherwise, you state:

        It devalues your argument when you deny obvious facts, e.g.,”evangelicals are fools.”

        Outside of the United States, where evangelicism is largely conceived of as a middle way between liberal christianity and fundamentalism, evangelicism is regarded as largely synonymous with protestantism. It holds to the belief that religious salvation is acheived by faith in Christ’s atonement for the sins of humanity. In the West, it is generally distinguished from Roman Catholicism, where according to its doctrine, religious salvation requires the sacraments and recognition of the Pope’s authority on earth.
        Regardless, if one argues that all evangelicals are mentally impaired and delusional, then one might as well argue the same with respect to all protestants, christians or religious individuals. And at all levels of generalization, I would regard this as a sweeping generalization and bigoted view. You offer nothing in its defense other than your bald assertion that it has been “empirically demonstrated time and time again.” You are of course entitled to your views, but this is not the place for the expression of your religious bigotry. So yes, lets set it aside.
        You state:

        Why do climate change folks get so worked up over what should be an intellectual debate? It always astounds me that you guys get just as rabid as the deniers do.

        The debate has already taken place in the peer reviewed literature. It has convinced the overwhelming majority of climate scientists and all major scientific organizations that have seen fit to take a position on the issue of industrial climate disruption and that it is important that we address the problem, sooner rather than later.
        Now the conclusions of science are never known with absolute certainty. No matter how many lines of evidence lead to a conclusion or how small the likelihood that some alternative to the dominant view may be true is, at least in principle, it is possible that some new evidence might come along in support of an alternative. But if we are talking about the existence of atoms, plate tectonics, or the earth orbiting the sun, the chances that the dominant view is incorrect is vanishingly small.
        However, if someone believes they have a new argument or new evidence they need to make their case in peer reviewed scientific journals where people who are familiar with the major issues of the field will be able to judge what they present. Skipping this and going immediately to the courtroom of public opinion is perhaps the surest indication that someone believes they have no scientific case to make.
        If they keep making arguments that were shown to be invalid (e.g., that the greenhouse effect violates the principle of conservation of energy and is therefore wrong or that the greenhouse effect requires heat to flow from what is hot to what is cold and therefore violates the second law of thermodynamics and is therefore wrong) then something else is likely going on.

        • OK, I’ve been over this before, but I will do so again, just for you. It’s wrong to be prejudiced against someone for things they can’t control, like sex, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It’s perfectly fine to be prejudiced against people for behaviors they ostensibly can control. For example, we discriminate against smokers, pedophiles, lazy people, etc, etc. In that religion is a choice, being prejudiced against the religious isn’t bigotry, it’s simply a valid decision to discriminate against a harmful set of behaviors. (Unless you believe they can’t help it because they’re fools, which is my point exactly.)

          I can’t believe I’m actually wasting my time arguing with you. I feel ashamed, like I just stole lunch money from the smallest kid on the play ground. It was fun, in a mean way, but enough is enough.

        • Otherwise, you write:

          It’s perfectly fine to be prejudiced against people for behaviors they ostensibly can control… It’s perfectly fine to be prejudiced against people for behaviors they ostensibly can control. For example, we discriminate against smokers, pedophiles, lazy people, etc, etc. In that religion is a choice, being prejudiced against the religious isn’t bigotry, it’s simply a valid decision to discriminate against a harmful set of behaviors.

          But while there are choices involved in one’s religious belief, the religious belief isn’t an act in the ordinary sense, like crossing a street or pulling a trigger. It is a worldview that helps one conceptualize the difference between right and wrong, and therefore the individual is able to use it as a guide to their actions. Now you may not be religious, but I would presume that you have some sort conceptual framework through which you identify the difference between right and wrong.
          This isn’t something that can be grounded in science. There is no scientific experiment you can perform to demonstrate that it is wrong to kill another, that one ought to be productive or live one’s life with integrity. Value judgments ultimately require something beyond that which can be demonstrated by empirical science.
          Empirical science can identify what is the case, but by itself, it cannot identify what ought to be the case. For that you need a framework that is grounded in something else, whether it be religion or philosophy, however tacit it may be.
          Now you might try to argue that your ethical system can be rationally demonstrated to be the correct one, that it is sufficient normative guidance for living one’s life, and that all else that is required is knowledge of facts. But can you actually demonstrate this? To the satisfaction of any rational individual?
          Personally, I believe that what is most important about religion is tacit rather than explicit, and while religion itself isn’t an over act, it provides the individual with guidance in how to act. I would even regard it as knowledge of how to act, closer to knowing how to ice skate or ride a bicycle, than knowledge of what is.
          But with religion this knowledge of how to act is embedded within a metaphoric tradition. In my decidedly non-religious view, different traditions act almost as different languages in which one can nevertheless possess the same understanding.
          At some level, I believe most people understand this. They probably don’t regard one-another’s religious traditions as fully equivalent. I don’t. But to judge someone solely on the basis of the religious beliefs from which they receive moral guidance without being able to justify the source of one’s own moral guidance and without knowledge of what they regard metaphorically rather than literally is, in my view at least, clearly a form of bigotry, Outside of those that embrace some form of fundamentalism, I suspect my view, at least in this regard, is the dominant one.
          If anyone is interested in learning a little more regarding my views of the nature and role of metaphor in human life:…

          The Importance of Metaphor
          http://climate-guardian.com/metaphor

        • Timothy

          Your last two posts have been logical and moved the discussion forward. Good for you.

          Defining denier was excellent and fair. You’re right, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing and all that.” If people agree to the argument, but refuse to take action, then in that sense they are just as bad as deniers. I will accept that criticism.

          Your post on religious beliefs was equally thoughtful. You’re right of course, people have the right to believe whatever they like. It’s actions we care about. In W. Africa there are religions that believe child sacrifice is acceptable. Say that spread to the U.S. Would I care? Nope, not as long as they don’t act on it. As long as religion is a belief independent of action, it’s none of my business.

          However, it is simply not bigotry to discriminate against behaviors and actions. We all pay taxes so our court system will do just that.

      • Second Response to Otherwise, Part II of II

        What we are facing really isn’t all that different from the disinformation campaign surrounding cigarette smoking. You could ask why not just treate the health effects of tobacco as the subject for an intellectual debate rather than trying to actually deal with the health issues surrounding the use of tobacco, but this would strike people as silly. The same is true here, except the stakes are far greater than those of any one individual or generation.

        We know that cigarette companies were aware of the health effects of tobacco even as they denied it. They were aware of the addictive properties of nicotine and they denied this as well. We know this due to internal documents. Yet they had think tanks with scientists that would claim the opposite of what they knew. For them, this isn’t an intellectual discussion to discover what is true but a disinformation campaign to sow doubt, creating paralysis, preventing any attempt to address the problems resulting from the use of their product.

        The same is true here as well. In fact, I put together a list of 32 organizations that were involved in both campaigns. I have links to sources with references in each case.

        Please see:

        Blowing Smoke: 32 Organizations…
        http://climate-guardian.com/smoke/

        Hypothetically, you might argue that people that there is no point in actually trying to discuss how to reduce smoking since once people have started they are hooked and just won’t stop.

        However, the first step in dealing with a problem is being able to recognize that it exists. Then you can look into programs for quitting, nicotine gum, the patch, electronic cigarettes or what have you. You can look into trying to keep people from starting to smoke in the first place. You may not be able to bring an end to all smoking-related health problems, but you can at least look for ways to reduce the number of people who smoke and how much people smoke.

        The same, I submit, is true in the case of industrial climate disruption. We may not be able to eliminate our emissions, but we may at least be able to reduce our emissions. We may not be able to reduce them much this decade. But however much we are able to reduce them will be better than not reducing them at all and sooner is always better than later.

        In any case, there are points you try to make where you get fairly incoherent, arguing that we should engage in intellectual debate :

        Why do climate change folks get so worked up over what should be an intellectual debate?

        … with those who in your view are beyond the reach of intellectual argumentation:

        I understand why they go crazy (see above–they’re fools)

        … then arguing that it is irrational to try to convince those that you believe are irrational:

        Well, good luck then, because their belief system is built on faith, not logic. They’re never going to yield to logic.

        Or when you argue that “the numbers” show that we can’t reduce global warming to a degree that would be worthwhile:

        There’s no way to curb the use of fossil fuels to a degree necessary to stop, much less reverse the process.

        … and yet such numbers would have to come from models which you argue aren’t reliable:

        The systems are too complex and the interactions too many for accurate long-term modeling…. The fact that all the scientists agree and their models all agree shouldn’t give you much comfort. There’s a long list of things scientists once “all agreed” on that turned out to be horseshit.

        Given the lack of cited evidence and incoherence, I don’t see much need to address that. Nevertheless, for those who are interested in the accuracy and utility of climate models, I would suggest:

        Climate Myth: Scientists can’t even predict weather
        https://www.skepticalscience.com/weather-forecasts-vs-climate-models-predictions-intermediate.htm

        Climate Myth: Models are unreliable
        https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models-intermediate.htm

        Are the Models Untestable?
        http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

        • There you go again. You start out with a reasonable argument, then degenerate into name calling, labeling me incoherent, which is wrong. Read any of my 150 blogs, five published books or twenty four articles and show me examples of my incoherency. I’ve been wrong and I’ve been turgid, but never incoherent.

          Oh well, I will drop off now. Obviously, you and the others here don’t want an honest discussion, you want to make strident points and have everyone shout “Amen.”

          Which, by the way, is exactly what you hate so much about the other side.

        • Oh, and by the way, I’m pretty mathematical. It’s one thing to be able to predict the use of fossil fuels and the CO2 released (which is easy) and the net effects on a complex dynamic system (which is hard) and the long term effects (which is very, very hard) Saying that you can do the first and not the latter two isn’t inconsistent.

  4. As I’ve pointed out before, the word “denier” does not automatically invoke Holocaust denial.

    True. Unless off course they actually invoke it by direct comparison. Here are some quotes. What do you think?
    http://www.populartechnology.net/2014/02/skeptics-smeared-as-holocaust-deniers.html

    Here is an analysis of why the ADL and in particular Shelley Rose are being hypocritical. See some of the excellent comments with references too.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/03/the-silence-of-the-anti-defamation-league-suggests-they-endorse-defamation-of-climate-skeptics/

    Spencer has been an example of years of tolerance. He finally snapped, and as you can see based on good reason.

    • I think that the ADL probably should have called out some of those, specifically those that draw direct comparisons to Nazis and Hitler. As I wrote in the OP, “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. (emphasis original)” Most of the quotes provided at those links are not comparison to the Nazis.

      As for me, I’m on record opposing direct comparisons to Nazis in general.

    • Good of you to admit, S Jones, that Spencer has “snapped.” I guess that means that from this point on it is okay to ignore what he has to say. What a relief. / / As for the Holocaust context: just as I think it is totally legitimate to do a comparative analysis of the discourses of global warming denial and the discourse of evolution denial (that is, Creationism or Intelligent Design), so it is also legitimate to compare the discourses of global warming denial and that of Holocaust denial. Such an analysis might cast light on the mechanism of all of these sick discourses. To perform such a comparative analysis is NOT to compare anyone to a Nazi, of course. It’s to study the way language is used in certain political contexts.

  5. Just a note here, Kelly. While Otherwise and I argue about things – a lot, in fact – and I disagree with his take on some of what he’s saying in this thread, I can attest that he isn’t a denier. He says so, explicitly enough, and he’s telling the truth. You don’t know him, and we all know how the Internet can amplify the noise in a discussion at the expense of the signal. You don’t know me, either, but I founded and run S&R, so hopefully this gives me at least a bit of credibility to testify on behalf of someone I know personally and fairly well.

    If you’ll get past that and engage with the more nuanced point he’s making this will be a more productive conversation. His most interesting point, as I see it, is that there’s no practical way to address carbon output in time to save us. This means one of the following, as I see it.

    1. we’re doomed, probably to extinction
    2. the climate is going to change, although it’s not possible to say for certain exactly how, which means we may not be totally doomed, although the future is certainly going to be different
    3. if we can’t solve the problem by reducing carbon output, then it means we’re going to have to do it another way – tech innovations that can scrub the atmosphere? I don’t know – I read, but I’m not a scientist.

    In any case, even though we might disagree, we’re all smart people and we’re acting in good faith. Let’s talk TO each other’s points as best we can.

    • You claim that Otherwise is not a denialist. I suppose that term need to be defined. As I say, the main objective of the fossil fuel industry disinformation campaign is to keep the government from intervening in and regulating the industry and hurting their immense profits. One way to do that is to question the science that established the reality of AGW. That is Roy Spencer’s way. Another way is to accept the reality of AGW but come up with a hundred and one reasons to do nothing. Both accomplish the goal.

      What makes me very suspicious of your friend Otherwise is his claimed cluelessness as to why people who support climate scientists sounding the alarm about AGW get so very upset with those who are doing either one or two. You might as well ask why the townspeople get upset at the snake-oil salesman who is selling an elixir to cure whooping cough that has turned out to be poisonous and killed a dozen children.

      The post above is about Roy Spencer, right? Who is a denialist, right? Why does Otherwise weigh in here to criticize those who would treat Spencer with contempt? What response does he expect from those of us who are sick to death of the Roy Spencers of the world? I agree with James Hansen, that the fossil fuel company execs who fund the disinformation campaign should be tried for crimes against humanity. As for their reps in the field, well, for them I think the traditional punishment for snake-oil salesmen. It involves a bucket of hot tar, a bag of chicken feathers, and a split rail. As Voltaire put it, Ecrasez l’infame.

      • I made clear that I disagree with some of what Otherwise says. But denier is a word with a definition. He doesn’t deny that climate disruption is real and he doesn’t deny that human activity is a contributor.

        This means he is by definition not a denier. Now, go from there.

        • Thanks, Sammy, but you don’t need to defend me. I’m just amusing myself pulling wings off flies here.

          Kelly and Timothy

          It’s that froth-at-the-mouth vehemence that puts me off, although I admit I can get froth-at-the-mouth myself from time to time, like whenever someone says the word “Dick Cheney.”

          The difference in me and the deniers is that I dont come at this particular issue from an ideological position. I don’t believe that human exploitation of oil is God’s will or any of that nonsense the evangelicals believe. It’s just that I think that most human problems are tractable, but not this one. However, I certainly hope I’m wrong.

          Here’s the problem:

          1. We have already released a tremendous amount of CO2 into the atmosphere that most scientists predict will have consequences for many, many years to come.
          2. Our OECD lifestyles are predicated on intensive energy use, which will continue to require heavy use of fossil fuels. We’ve seen time and time again that people simply will not curb their use of resources. People now drive more and bigger cars than they did before the fuel crisis of 73. They live in bigger houses. They travel on jets more. People may pay lip service to conservation and throw a plastic bottle or two in the bin, but they will not reduce their lifestyles in significant and meaningful ways. (See my recent post on St. Eustatius.)
          3. Even if we in the OECD curbed our lifestyle, there are billions of people in the developing world who aspire to similar lifestyles, and they will continue to increase their energy intensity.
          4. The mechanisms to curb fossil fuel use are clumsy and weak (e.g., carbon taxes) and the infrastructure supporting continued fossil fuel use is huge and strong. The tobacco industry is nothing compared to the oil industry–in size, power, ruthlessness, or invested base. If Iremember right, Exxon ranks as one of the top fifty nations on earth.

          So add it all up–the damage is already very far along and will continue.

          Our only hope to fix it is a climate counter cycle or some self-correcting dynamic ecological mechanism or some new technology, not yet on the horizon.

          Should you give up and sit down in the middle of the road with your head in your hands and wait to die? Of course not. You (and the efforts of others like you) may do some good at the margin, and anyway, there’s nobility in trying. (I was in Peace Corps to try to combat third world poverty. I still send money to people like the ACLU and SPLC. I get fighting the noble fight.)

          In short, I’m arguing you CAN’T do much, but not that you SHOULDN’T.

          However, there is a way to do it and a way not to do it. I am arguing that you shouldn’t sink to the same puerile, personal, fetid level of the opposition. When your side uses the word denier just to piss them off (because you know it’s fucking perjorative, come on,) that it’s childish on your part.

        • Otherwise. I call them “deniers” not because it’s pejorative or “just to piss them off” but because that’s what they are, deniers, as opposed to true sceptics. By your logic, I should not call the guy who picks my pocket a “pickpocket” because that’s pejorative and it’s likely to piss him off. Frankly I don’t care if it pisses him off. He’s an effing pickpocket, for Christ’s sake. / / If I misidenified you as a denier, sorry. But I can’t disagree more with your view that this is merely an intelllectual discussion and people should recognize it as such and be civil. It’s not an intellectual discussion. It’s a war. Tell Michael Mann who, when he opens his mail, sometimes finds that it contains white powder, that this is merely an “intellectual discussion.” Tell the Australian climate scientists who had to have special police protection because of death threats to them and their families that this is just an intellectual discussion. This view is at best naive and at worst accomodationist. / / Your attitude here recalls to mind the story of the end of Archimedes. When an enemy soldier burst into that great man’s study, the latter quite civilly asked “Please do not disturb my circles” — this right before the soldier sawed off his highly civilized head with his sword. But I suppose I’m offending against your comments policy again, Mr. Smith. If so, you are perfectly welcome to remove this and the rest of my barbaric posts.

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