The effects of climate change are not just a scientific model which may or may not happen sometime in the way off future. Climate change is in front of our eyes. As I write this, the temperature outside is 43.8 degrees, heading for a forecast of 46. This would make it the hottest day of my life and today Adelaide is the hottest city in the world. The weather, of course, is just weather and doesn’t in itself prove climate change is real. What does prove climate change is real is scientific study of the influence of carbon emissions on the world’s climate. Scientific consensus has monumentally smashed any sort of doubt by, at last count, showing only 0.01% of climate scientists questioning the validity of anthropogenic climate change as scientific fact. But, while the experts tell us climate change is happening, and while I experience for myself the changing climate in Adelaide which has seen us hit record after record, to a point where the weather maps are adding new colours to show new extremes, there is still far more denial of this science than is rationally possible, in a country where we all learnt to read at a very young age.
Whenever a conversation starts about climate change, whether it be on social media, in the mainstream media, in government, in the private sector or just around a neighbour’s BBQ, the deniers are there to take the discussion away from ‘how do we deal with this problem’, and divert it to ‘does this problem even exist?’ Like whack-a-mole zombies, the deniers have a pre-rehearsed line prepared for every occasion which they unwelcomely insert into every potentially productive discussion. I’ve put together this handy guide to your garden-variety climate change denier pests, who pop up all over our community with new ways to block action to save our planet:
FREE MARKETER DENIERS
The ‘climate change can’t be happening because it’s problematic to my free market ideology’ deniers.
It’s not a coincidence that some of the richest people in the world fund campaigns to spread doubt and lies about climate change. It’s also not a coincidence that it’s the free-marketers who form shady right-wing think tanks, designed to fight any sort of move by a government to combat climate change. To these free-marketers, environmental protection is just another way the government limits their precious free market, which in their minds, limits the amount of money they can extract from the planet the governments are trying to protect. Maurice Newman, Tony Abbott’s top business advisor, is a member of one of these secretive societies, as revealed in this piece by Graham Readfearn.
So let’s break it down to really simple language to explain why these people deny climate science. They are rich. They want to get richer. They are worried that if the government forces them to readjust their profitable activities to take into account the pollution their profitable activities cause, they might not be as rich as they were hoping to be. On the planet they are destroying. I don’t think a more ridiculous reason for denial could possibly exist. When you take into account the damage the changing climate is doing, and will continue to do, to their precious economy, as well as the planet where they spend their money, how can these so-called-business-savvy people not see that it’s in everyone’s best interest to take climate change seriously? How many profit-making tennis games have to be postponed before these people realise this is about them too?
The problem with these deniers is that they have the funds behind them to influence a lot of other gullible people who are, by their political affiliation with these types, liable to believe everything they say. Like the Tony Abbotts of the world, who need the money of well-known-climate-denial-funder Gina Rinehart to bankroll his election campaigns. What can we possibly say to these people to snap them out of this idiocy? How about we try saying ‘please stop blocking action to combat climate change. We all have to live on this planet. And this is where you make all your money’. An un-liveable planet would be a market free of profit I would have thought.
The ‘climate change might be happening, it might not, but if it is it’s not caused by humans and so there’s no point doing anything about it, I’m really not making much sense’ deniers.
These deniers will never admit that they are a product of the campaigns by the free market deniers because that would be inconvenient to their argument. What they don’t realise is that, as acting as the astro-turfing mouthpieces, or the tentacles of the great free-market-climate-change-denying-squid-like-beast, they often end up not just sounding like foot soldiers, but often like robotic climate denying software algorithms funded by free marketer deniers. But I don’t think they mind that they sound like lunatics who can’t string a thought together let alone an argument. Because this is part of their strategy. An example of the muddying-the-water climate denier can be found in this exchange:
You see how this one never out-right denies climate change, he just spreads doubt? So when we start talking about bushfires and how they are becoming more frequent and more serious due to climate change, these deniers question the link between bushfires and climate change. When we say climate scientists are in agreement of the facts, they say thousandaire climate scientists are part of a left-wing conspiracy to get more research funding. When we quote scientific evidence of a warming atmosphere, they say that the warming might be happening, but it’s not man-made. When we say it is man-made and we have to do something about it, they say there’s no point doing anything because there’s nothing we can do to fix it. And the argument goes around and around and around until the person who started the original conversation about the problem of climate change and what we should do about it ends up being so confused and so frustrated that they give up altogether.
This has happened to me on Twitter many times, and I know I shouldn’t fall for it, so I’m trying to stop. Let’s remember that the whole point of these deniers is that they don’t make any logical sense. They’re just there to divert attention from the urgent need for our community to do something about climate change. Whether they’re saying wind-farms cause headaches, polar-vortexes are not related to climate change, or they’re repeating crap they’ve heard Lord Monckton say while on his Rinehart-funded trip around Australia, we should just ignore and block these people whenever they pop up. Or ridicule. That can also help combat the frustration.
The ‘I remember when I was a boy it was really hot once’ deniers.
This type of denier is again related to the free marketer denier, but again incapable of admitting this link. Usually this link is a shared voting intention with right-wing political parties. Funny that. Are you seeing a pattern here?
The sort of thing you hear from these people is shown in the tweet below, from a radio presenter at 2CC Canberra:
As the climate trend keeps climbing upwards, you find that the historic temperature date they quote is getting further and further into the past. You almost have to feel sorry for them. Parton’s not even been able to say ‘it was hotter than it is today when I was fifteen’. He’s had to go back to the 19th Century, to a town in outback Queensland. Mark goes on to try to use the pretence of reasonableness to explain why he thinks climate change isn’t happening:
It’s fairly easy to combat these deniers. All you have to say is ‘no Mark, it’s not all about you. The weather in your back yard is not of itself evidence of a global climate trend. So what if there was a hot day in 1969 and you happened to remember it? It’s the trend that is important! Why is the trend on an upward trajectory if climate change isn’t real?’
Annoyingly, many journalists fall for this sort of denial, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not. It’s when they say ‘Adelaide experienced extreme temperatures today’ and instead of continuing this statement with ‘this is further evidence of the weather outcomes that we will see from a changing climate’, they stick their viewers’ heads back in the sand by saying ‘and it’s the hottest day since the 12th of January 1939’. Nothing to see here, move along.
The ‘I’m above all this climate change stuff because I don’t take anything seriously’ deniers.
Again, these deniers are related to free marketer deniers, but have just chosen a different tactic for expressing their opinions about climate change. Opinions they have no right to as not a single one of them has any scientific training, let alone expertise in climate science. These people’s chosen tactic is disdain delivered like a totally un-funny stand-up-comedian. Chris Kenny is the best example of this type of denier that I’ve come across. I wrote to him about this a year ago and his son has also weighed in on his father’s irresponsibility, but judging by this tweet, Kenny hasn’t changed since:
That’s right. Those pesky climate scientists are just over-exaggerating climate change, because, because… actually I don’t think Kenny has ever come up with an explanation as to why thousands of climate scientists would do such a thing. What do we say to these people? I find in Kenny’s case it’s best to laugh at him. Not with him. And to tell him he’s a puppet of his free marketer heroes/employer whose only achievement so far in life appears to be fathering at least one son who is nothing like him.
So there you have it. The first step to solving a problem is identifying it. These are the deniers we have to put up with, who are doing their best to delay or stop action to slow the catastrophic effects of climate change. These are the people the mainstream media call on to help them to show ‘balance’. These are the people our country elects to govern us all. These are the people who continue to get very rich from their denial, while poor people are the first to suffer from the effects of climate change, not having the funds to insulate themselves from harm’s way. So we keep fighting. We do it for our children. We do it for our global community. And we do it for ourselves. Because climate change is happening right now and we have to do something about it.