Are Climate-Change Deniers as bad as Creationists?

This post will probably open a can of worms and take us WAY off topic. It is a letter I wrote to The Houston Chronicle (which they declined to print), noting that the language and tactics of climate-change deniers sounds eerily like that of creationists:

Predictably, whenever the Chronicle prints a statement of the fact of human-caused climate change, as it did with the publication of Paul Krugman’s excellent editorial, “This close to betraying planet” on Tuesday, June 30, there is always a backlash of ignorant outrage. These tirades sound eerily familiar in tone. They sound exactly like the antievolutionary screeds of creationists. In fact, there is probably considerable overlap between the climate-change deniers and creationists; once you start rejecting inconvenient science, it easily becomes a habit. Climate-change deniers and creationists indulge in the same kind of rhetoric and employ the same sorts of tricks. Unable to win on the basis of evidence and logic, they resort to name-calling. Creationists characterize evolutionists as “atheists” who promote “the religion of secular humanism.” Climate-change deniers call their opponents “pathological romantics” or “eco-zealots.” While engaging in ad hominem argument, it also helps to mischaracterize opposing positions. Evolutionary theory as depicted by creationists bears scant resemblance to the real thing. Similarly, deniers of climate change fatuously say that their opponents want to reverse the industrial revolution or go back to transportation by ox cart. In fact, those leading the charge in warning against climate change, like Secretary of Energy, Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Chu, are the most active proponents of new science and new technology. Another tactic common to both the creationists and the climate-change deniers is to present a skewed version of the facts. Young earth creationists falsely claim that there are no transitional fossils. Climate-change deniers laughably tout the balmy climate that global warming will supposedly bring to New England (the real effects will be devastating). It is little wonder that creationists and climate-change deniers are so much alike. Both groups are motivated by a fundamentalist ideology: theological fundamentalism in the one case, and economic fundamentalism on the other. Ignorance is always dangerous, and doubly so when it is intentional.

About Keith Parsons
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    Are Climate-Change Deniers as bad as Creationists?

    Worse… *Much* worse…..

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    "the language and tactics of climate-change deniers sounds eerily like that of creationists."

    Sometimes they're the same people. You can find plenty of climate change "skepticism" on the ICR and AIG web-sites. The intelligent design crowd at Uncommon Descent are also climate change deniers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07559081710058635050 Pulse

    Off topic for even an off topic post:

    I have no doubt that the planet is growing warmer on average, but how much of this is the result of human action? After all, we appear to be within one of the longest "cool" eras the planet has ever known. Perhaps we're just due for some warmer weather?

    PALEOMAP image.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08053379690193393183 lepouse

    In my personal experience they've been one in the same. I suppose it's not fair to generalize like that, but I've yet to meet someone who is both a creationist and an eco-warrior; the whole "god will provide" or "waiting for the rapture" seems to get in the way of conservationism. And in the same way all atheists I know are intelligent and knowledgeable and therefore are well read in climate change science.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10099905896896905176 GOP Mammal

    I honestly don't know if humans are affecting climate change but too many on both sides are invested in their side to the extent that they will ignore any evidence the other side has.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13609854237747656684 UpUpAndUp

    In response to "Pulse", yes we have been in a cool period but this cool period extends beyond the entire existance of homo sapiens. Yes we're due to get hot again in a million years or so except that our prodigious sudden output of CO2 is changing that million years to something more like 100 years which is too fast for natural adaptation. It's the speed of climate change that is alarming.

    I sympathize with GOP Mammel with frustration in the strident tone of both sides but when you dig into it, the denier side argument is very weak and ignores repeated refutation of their arguments. It's hard to maintain an even tone in the face of such profound denial masquerading as healthy skepticism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13481147678066302280 Terence

    Climate-change deniers are definitely worse. Take your pick: Destruction of the planet or the destruction of minds?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "any evidence the other side has"

    Sorry, but "my political views prevent me from being concerned about the environment" is not evidence. And frankly, that's what it almost invariably boils down to. Not genuine, sensible, healthy scepticism but political convenience.

    Science is meant to avoid all that crap.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Except when it's *anti*-creationists who are climate change deniers, like Australian geology professor Ian Plimer, whose recent book Heaven and Earth has been making waves in Australia.

    Of course, I pointed out years ago that he was unreliable in his anti-creationism. Others are now making the same observations about his anti-climate change book.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10852130802624554276 Maurizio Morabito

    Creationists invariably lose any debate they enter against evolutionists. Climate change skeptics invariably win any debate they enter against climate change believers. What should one make of that?

    Belief in climate change is in fact easier to digest for people with fundamentalist religious beliefs than Darwinism. Check out what happened in Turkey a few months ago.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14313398335068416902 tomcubbage

    This is a silly premise. Creationists tend to be fundamentalists and Republicans. Recent poll shows over 90% of scientists who do believe AGW theories are junk science inventions label themselves as Democrats Centerists and Independents. The same scientific community communits that believes in the fossil record also believes in natural sunspots and albedo cycles. A consensus of fools does not make for real science. The author of this piece would get an F if he submitted this article as a collegic logic term paper. In this case Al Gore and his coterie are wrong, and so are the creationists. Both are subject to the maddening of crowds syndrome.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16869416166119261695 Glenn

    For many years I believed in global warming. Then I wised up.

    Some of the arguments that changed my mind were the finding that CO2 levels followed, not preceded temperature change, undercutting the main thrust of global warming theory.
    http://climaterealists.com/news.php?id=1041

    Studies showing that solar effects on climate cannot be ignored are persuasive:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/254/5032/698
    http://www.ilovemycarbondioxide.com/pdf/US_Temperatures_and_Climate_Factors_since_1895.pdf

    Prof. Willie Soon has done some interesting work:
    http://www.heartland.org/bin/media/newyork08/audio/Monday/soon.mp3

    The work of the Israeli physicist Nir Shaviv on how decreased solar activity increases cosmic ray flow which can cool climate is especially interesting:
    http://www.sciencebits.com/CosmicRaysClimate
    http://www.sciencebits.com/CO2orSolar
    This work is speculative but will be given a definitive test at the European CERN research facility later this year and into next year. If it is proven, no matter how bad you think climate-change deniers are, they will have won the argument.

    Recent work undercutting the idea that CO2 creates a positive feedbacks, its effect has been damaging to the theory as well.
    http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/03/radical-new-hypothesis-on-the-effect-of-greenhouse-gases/#more-4314

    Finally, over the last several years, despite increased CO2 concentrations, it has not been getting warmer.
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/warming_not_happening.pdf

    Organizations like England's Met, apparently relying on global warming theory, have issued predictions for "hottest ever" seasons which turned out not to be hot, or even as warm as normal.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/ 2008/ 12/ 12/ dr-roger-piekle-sr-on-uks-met-office-press-releases-on-climate/
    This also damaged the credibility of the global warming viewpoint in my view.

    You can call deniers all the names you want, but it will not put the Humpty-Dumpty global warming theory back together again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13616577731083622873 Chief

    Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. If any group is similar to the fundamentalist/creationist in their closed-minded, only-one-possible-answer attitude, it's the AGW crowd. And it's that way precisely because AGW has become akin to a religion for them. As much as the "science" is touted and that word is referenced, the truth of the matter is that this all comes down to models. And models aren't science. They're full of subjective and biased assumptions and proxies. There's no open minds on the AGW side of the fence. Anyone who hints at the slightest doubt in the religion is effectively tarred and feathered.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16767801004474936795 gcwilliams

    Actually Creationists and AGW believers are nearly identical.
    The both begin with the conclusion and then manipulated the data to fit the conclusion.
    They both believe absolutely with NO proof and NO data to support them.
    They both are fervently intolerant of any dissention to the doctrine.
    Most know nearly nothing about the science of the subject but believe absolutely.
    Neither will ever question the word of the top clergy of the cult. IE Al Gore.

    Fortunately AGW is very near death now.
    Creationism will last as long as people need superstition to console their fear of reality.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    Keith,

    Next time you want to experimentally confirm that the internet is a wonderful environment for annoying people with Causes, I suggest you do it all at once.

    Write something that combines global warming, guns, and Libertarianism, along with our usual hot-button religious topics.

    Then I can read people who couldn't read a physics paper to save their lives telling us all about the climate, commentators with no clue about social science expounding about social violence, and wannabe pundits overly impressed with Austrian philosophers lecturing about economics. And I'm sure some will get in some preaching about Jesus or even against Jesus.

    It should be fun. But on second thoughts, do it when I'm on vacation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    More ridiculous contentless ad hominems . My religion is math and physics and the flat earth anti-scientific papists are those suckered by the anti-life anti-green mongers of fear of the element upon which all life is constructed . Nineteenth century physics shows that the temperature of objects in our orbit are constrained to be about 1/21 the temperature the Sun decides to be . See my CoSy.com for the computations . Somehow the AGW alarmists have managed to fail to understand this basic textbook relationship . CO2 is provably greening the planet and provably NOT significantly changing its mean temperature .

    Who gives an F… about creationists ? But learn some d… math and physics – profound insights , gained thru thousands of brilliant lifetimes , into the actual structure of our reality . Then maybe you'll be able to comprehend what BS this AGW Statist cult is .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06249884820823102894 slikk01
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11963082841077248047 Mr. Pitt

    "…prints a statement of the fact of human-caused climate change…"

    What statement of fact? This is not a fact. This is where your whole argument (and Krugman's as well) falls apart. There is absolutely NO evidence of human-caused climate change. Yes, CO2 does trap heat. That is indeed a fact. And the overwhelming majority of the heat trapped occurs at levels below 100 ppm. That is also a fact. The incremental amount of heat trapped at CO2 levels > 350 ppm is infinitesimally small. The models contain ASSUMPTIONS that water vapor will have a multiplying effect on temperature at CO2 levels beyond 350 ppm. But there is absolutely no evidence of such – in the laboratory or empirically. It's a belief. And that's all it is at this point. A belief. And a belief is A LOT different than a fact.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    You can't trap heat .
    You can only slow it down .

    And that effects variance but not mean .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Taner Edis said: “ It should be fun. But on second thoughts, do it when I'm on vacation.

    On the contrary, I think this thread is very interesting, for perhaps it helps illuminate why people believe the things they do.

    To those here who deny Anthropogenic Global Warming I have the following questions: Don’t you agree it’s a fact that by far most scientists agree with AGW? (In this context see, for example, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020400953.html or http://royalsociety.org/downloaddoc.asp?id=1630 ). If you agree it’s a fact that by far most scientists agree with AGW, how do you explain this fact?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    Don’t you agree it’s a fact that by far most scientists agree with AGW?

    At this point , I don't know . There are 10s of thousands who don't and it has cost some of them jobs .There has been and continues to be a rapid increase in the numbers coming out on the realist side including just recently another astronaut , Buzz Aldrin .

    But I'd ask , do you notice us realist tend to post facts and concepts while the AGW believers tend to cite authority and seek confirmation that the authority still dominates ?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07559081710058635050 Pulse

    "Nineteenth century physics shows that the temperature of objects in our orbit are constrained to be about 1/21 the temperature the Sun decides to be."

    From what I can understand by reading through Bob Armstrong's website, his stance for denying the effects of greenhouse gasses rests on the observation that the measured mean temperature of the earth very closely matches the calculated mean temperature of a perfect black body object in the earth's orbit. His calculations attempt to show that this is no mere coincidence. Rather, all gray planetary bodies (like the earth) in fact should behave identically to perfect black bodies because the two terms measuring grayness, absorptivity and emissivity, should exactly cancel each other out. He not only denies the warming effects of greenhouse gasses, he also denies the cooling effects of an object's albedo.

    "According to this theory [of reflectivity], as snow with an albedo which can be nearly as high as MgO covered the continents during the ice ages, the Earth should have spiraled down to a permanent snowball. That it didn't is one of the first facts which made me question the AGW orthodoxy. It is notable that, so far as I know, there is no laboratory demonstration of this supposed phenomenon."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16641266062186767500 Keith Parsons

    Taner Edis says:

    Keith,

    Next time you want to experimentally confirm that the internet is a wonderful environment for annoying people with Causes, I suggest you do it all at once.

    Write something that combines global warming, guns, and Libertarianism, along with our usual hot-button religious topics.

    OK, Taner, here goes: We should register all climate-change deniers so that we can confiscate their firearms and make them put "Ayn Rand was an Idiot" bumper stickers on their SUV's.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14313398335068416902 tomcubbage

    Why Climate Change Deniers are not also Creationists. The latter believe that Creation occurred less than 10,000 years ago. Therefore, they cannot look at the real geological records that deal with climate epocs older than that. Remember, there are no Ice Age stories in the Bible so they cannot happen in a Creationist's worldview. Deniers use the acnient geoligical evidence to make the case for natural solar cycles.
    Creationists, meanwhile, who tend to be Calvinistic in outlook, see global warming as being punishment for mankind's naturally sinful ways. I am surprised that secularists don't realize this kind of dicotomy of worldviews. The truth is, it is Creationists and Gorites (a modern versions of the Flat Earthers) do share a common trait; namely a love for and hubric pride in junk science.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    @ Pulse

    You are close to what I'm saying . But it's that the classical physics predicts the temperature of radiantly heated objects and all the inner rocky planets other than Venus match their computed temperature . Which comes first , the observation or the theory is impossible to say . Certainly the theory has survived much longer than any of us

    It's not that I ignore albedo ; it's that it's easier to use absorptivity which is 1 – albedo because Kirchhoff's insight is that absorptivity equals emissivity .

    It's not exactly true that I deny the effect of the atmospheric gasses spectra . There is an effect of the difference in correlation between the spectra of the sun and the planet and dark of space which I need to add to the equation . However , it will be much smaller than this common error of leaving the emissivity coefficient out of the planet's radiance . ( Sorry to express that so tekally . )

    It's very important to note that there can be no such thing as a runaway effect because there is no energy left over to drive it . All the energy from the sun is accounted for by the SB/K relationship .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    WRT albedo . I should also point out that the important part of my implementation of the SB/K equation is that it handles the cases where albedo is different on , eg , the earth's night side versus day side . It's only when a ball has the same absorptivity/emissivity in all directions that it drops out . For instance , if clouds get thicker at night , which they well may , our mean temperature will rise .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    Keith Parsons: "We should register all climate-change deniers so that we can confiscate their firearms and make them put 'Ayn Rand was an Idiot' bumper stickers on their SUV's."

    Best policy recommendation I've heard in a while.

    Still, being invaded by the climatically clueless is not entirely bad. In exams, I've asked physics students what is wrong with the creationist invocation of the second law of thermodynamics. I may use this crank who posts under the name of "Bob Armstrong" as a basis for another exam question when we do radiative heat transfer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    @ Taner

    PLEASE point out my error in implementing the Stefan-Boltzmann/Kirchhoff laws .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06249884820823102894 slikk01

    Cap and Trade is a scam, it always has been. Kyoto has allowed China and India carte blanche to emit all of the CO2 they want. The Europeans have seen electric utilities prices jump through the roof as energy companies, to meet production goals and emissions goals, have passed on the cost of EUAs to the consumer.

    The greatest irony of all is that the US has cut its own CO2 emissions by 3% without Cap and Trade while Europe's emissions have risen by 0.8% in the same period.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16641266062186767500 Keith Parsons

    The point of my post was that when climate change is discussed, all the cranks and crackpots come pouring out of the woodwork. Looking at many of the comments here, I have only one remark: QED.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03006499486757101704 wagner

    I´m deeply disapointed with this site. The post is a fundamentalist point of view, and not one of someone who believes in science (which implies questioning). I´m an atheist but cannot agree with lots of things about global warming stuff. Questioning global warning is not a faith position, is quite different than being creationist. The fact that creationist don´t believe it for religious reasons doesn´t make it true.
    What a shame !!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Bob Armstrong said: “ At this point , I don't know . There are 10s of thousands who don't and it has cost some of them jobs .

    I don’t know where you get your figures, but it is pretty well established that the consensus of the scientific community in general and of climatologists in particular is for AGW. Indeed a recent study puts a figure on this consensus: 82% of Earth scientists and 97% of active climatologists agree with AGW (see: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/ )

    Bob Armstrong said: “But I'd ask , do you notice us realist tend to post facts and concepts while the AGW believers tend to cite authority and seek confirmation that the authority still dominates ?

    My scientific knowledge is based mostly on the trust I have for scientists. After all there are very few scientific experiments I have performed myself. Trust is a good thing as long as one has good reason for it. And there is certainly good reason to trust the scientific community in matters scientific.

    Incidentally, what’s the deal with AGW deniers calling themselves “realists”? Is this kind of suggestive self-naming becoming a fashionable trend? I notice some atheists have taken to calling themselves “brights”. And “AGW believers” of course nicely rhymes with “God believers”. Surely such antics do not suggest one’s confidence in one’s position.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    These "who believes what" numbers don't mean much , but there are over 30,000 who have signed the "Oregon" petition which you can google for . the http://Heartland.org conferences get overbooked . Sen Inhofe has a list of over 700 highly credentialed scientists who have joined some list of his Senate Minority whatever committee . The numbers are growing rapidly as more people see what a dangerous fraud this is . Any
    contention that there are not some of the world's most eminent
    scientists on the "denier" side is simply a lie .  There is an excellent book by a Canadian ,  Lawrence Solomon , titled The Deniers , with biographies of a number of them .

    I'm actually answering this because I thought your comment on the use of the tags realist , denier , alarmist , bright , etc.  insightful . Denier has been claimed to be intended to invoke associations with holocaust denier . Realist is definitely a reaction to that . But I would also defend it as being reasonable because we contend , contrary to the alarmists , that , as John Coleman , founder of The Weather Channel among other accomplishments would say , nothing unusual is going on . It's those who contend that the tiny change in our atmosphere's spectrum in the last half century has caused the perhaps 0.3% increase in our measured mean temperature between ~ 1970 and 2000 who are claiming something exceptional is going on . When they start talking about "runaway" temperatures they really get into fantasy land and I'm waiting for Taner Edis to tell me where I've got the classical physics , which says we are stuck with being about 1/21 the temperature of the sun , wrong .

    Thanks for your question .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14313398335068416902 tomcubbage

    Science is not a matter of majority vote which is to say that in realm of science, consensus plays no real role in the discovery of truth. The so call consensus is people who believe in the tenets of the UN reports. Since they came out the various aspects of the ideas of Hansen and others have been so shredded that the corpse of the AGW hypothesis looks like dry bone bleached by the warmth of brother son. It not the quantity of people who believe in error, but the quality of those who can actually understant the truth that hides in Natures wondrous cycles.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Lawrence Solomon's book is called "The Deniers" but the people in the book are not deniers of AGW.

    Cf. this review:

    "The problem is that Solomon's 'deniers' don't actually deny climate change. They quibble about the details.

    They criticize Michael Mann's now entirely dated hockey stick graph. They argue about solar flares and snow temperatures in Antarctica.

    But they all still allow — what's the phrase? — that observed warming is real and particularly strong in the past 20 years.

    Solomon even says so. He says that while reflecting on his own research, 'I … noticed something striking about my growing cast of deniers. None of them were deniers.' (My emphasis.)

    It's hard to imagine how someone could make that concession on page 45 and then string a book out to page 213 (not counting footnotes.) It's harder still to think that he could then continue to pursue his desperate argument that a legitimate debate still exists about the central question of anthropogenic global warming."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12517889718518675999 Bob Armstrong

    I have never met anyone who denies that temperature went up close to 0.3% in the last hundred year , or that it increased strongly from around 1900 to 1940 or 1950 , then declined til about 1970 , then increased from about then til about 2000 and flat since , declining steeply in the last few years .

    I've only read some of Solomon's original bios in Canada's National Post . My memory is that the individuals all raised substantial doubts that there was any reason for alarm .

    But there has been a lot more research since his work . It is absolutely absurd to claim there is no "legitimate debate still exists about the central question of anthropogenic global warming" . It is in fact growing rapidly .

    I'll repeat that my focus is the classical physics which explains the relationship between our temperature and that of the sun . But the alarmists act as if that physics is optional and I have never been able to find either a coherent derivation of their supposed effect , or an experimental demonstration . How can one not be skeptical ?


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