Climate Illogic

Industrial climate disruption1 (aka climate change or global warming) is largely accepted among climate scientists in particular and scientists in general, but it’s a reasonably controversial topic among non-scientists and the public. This is especially true among those non-scientists who are concerned that mitigating or adapting to the effects of industrial climate disruption might restrict their personal freedom, increase their taxes, or cost them their job(s).

Over the course of a decade of reporting on the topic, I have heard hundreds of arguments against industrial climate disruption, and many arguments I’ve heard repeatedly. Unfortunately, the most common arguments also tend to be illogical – they’re not just mistakes, they’re examples of faulty logic.

I launched the “Climate Illogic” series with the goal of not just documenting the most common illogical arguments against industrial climate disruption, but also explaining in clear language why the arguments are illogical. And in the process I’m building a database of ready-made arguments against the most common logical fallacies made by people arguing against the reality of industrial climate disruption.

Galileo and denial of industrial climate disruption
Climate disruption deniers who claiming to be like Galileo battling the Catholic Church are making a fundamentally illogical argument. [The Galileo Fallacy is a Strawman fallacy, which is a suptype of a Red Herring.]

The flat Earth consensus
It’s most illogical for climate disruption deniers to arguing against the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the industrial nature of climate disruption using the flat Earth analogy. [The Flat Earth Consensus is a Weak Analogy fallacy.]

Industrial climate disruption is not a popularity contest
Overwhelming evidence is why the vast majority of climate experts agree industrial climate disruption is real. But climate disruption deniers want you to believe it’s all a popularity contest. [When not a simple error this is an example of a Red Herring fallacy, usually a Strawman.]

Sometimes arguing from authority is the logical thing to do
Industrial climate disruption is sufficiently complicated that arguing from authority – even a consensus of authorities – is not only justified, it’s entirely logical. [When not a simple error this is an example of the Equivocation/Ambiguity or the Vagueness fallacies.]

Don’t be distracted by irrational assertions of global warming catastrophe and crisis
The terms “catastrophic global warming” and “global warming crisis,” as well as their variants, are distractions meant to provide climate disruption deniers an easier way to attack the scientific fact that is global warming. [Both terms are Straw Man logical fallacies.]

Poisoning discussion is easier than countering climate science
In arguments where one side has the clear factual advantage over the other, such as arguments about industrial climate disruption, attacking one’s opponent before the argument even starts is one of the few tactics that has a chance of winning the debate. [This is a form of an ad hominem fallacy known as “poisoning the well.”]

Appealing to history to predict the future is often illogical
Climate change in the past only has bearing on the present if the conditions that led to past climate changes are the same conditions we have now. Since the conditions today are different, relying on the past is an illogical appeal to history. [This is a form of a genetic fallacy (a fallacy of irrelevance) known as an “appeal to tradition.”]

1: “Industrial Climate Disruption” is defined as the consensus position is that the climate is changing, that the emission of greenhouse gases by human industry is the dominant driver of those changes, and that the changes will almost certainly be disruptive to human society and global ecology.