What if climate change / global warning Deniers1 (as opposed to doubters or skeptics) had been around in 1775? No, this is not a cheap way to try and cast climate change scientists as revolutionary heroes, but rather a serious way to reveal some truths about the Denier arguments.
What I have done below is take some of the popular Denier arguments and substitute an appropriate Revolutionary War reference. Have a look at them (compare to actual Denier myths)
- There is no proof the British are coming.
- There has always been British.
- The British go in cycles, sometimes more, sometimes less.
- The British are natural.
- There is no consensus in the Continental Congress.
- There are fewer British in Concord and Lexington now then there were in the past.
- There is a lag, the British Army comes after the Continental Army, not before it.
- That windbag George Washington is making money from the Continental Army.
- Follow the money! The Minute Men are all in the pay of the Continental Congress.
- The “British Invasion” is just a way for the Continental Congress to get more power.
- Paul Revere is not a trained military scout.
- We need tea.
- Fighting the British would be expensive and could wreck the economy.
- Maybe more British troops would be a good thing.
- [UPDATE 14:00 Nov 23] If Revere really thought the British were coming he’d be fighting them where they are, not riding around talking about it (thanks to marsbeyond for the unintended suggestion)
Now let’s look at them to determine if they are i) true or not, and ii) whether it matters; ie even if true, does it change whether the British are a threat.
# 1. Always true, and always irrelevant. The proof is when it actually happens, at which point it is too late.
# 2-4. True, and similar to #1 in being almost always true of every situation, and always irrelevant; ie the fact that they are true does not tell you anything about the threat.
# 5. True of Congress, but not of climate science. Irrelevant either way since it does not tell if the British are actually coming or not.
#6 – 7. True in the past, not necessarily always true, and completely irrelevant to whether they are coming.
#8-9. True in theory, but still irrelevant.
#10. The Congress will get more power, but that is not why they are resisting the British.
#11. True, and irrelevant.
#12-13. Debatable whether true or not, but definitely irrelevant to whether the British are coming or not.
#14. False. Only believable if you have no clue at all.
#15. Get shot right off, Concord, Lexington, the armoury and patriots captured … right, good plan.
Try it for the full range of Denier myths if you like (or choose from any of the links under “Debunking Nonsense” at right). The transposition is easy for most of them except the more specific myths; eg “Volcanoes put more British into the air than … ” doesn’t translate as well.
Still not convinced? Try it again substituting “the Germans and/or Japanese”, or any historical real threat that you like (Mongols, plague, fire, floods).
My point is simply that to the extent the Denier myths are strictly true, or true in some sense, it is because they are trivially true. That is to say whether true or not they are completely irrelevant to what is happening now and tell you nothing about whether climate change is real or not. In fact many of them are always true, always true and always completely irrelevant.
Further, they all take advantage of the typical readers unfamiliarity with climate science and climate change. Everyone can see that these arguments are utter nonsense with respect to a British invasion in 1775, but it is less obvious that they are just as nonsensical when referring to climate science.
Hopefully this little exercise has helped show that they are also nonsense with respect to climate science.
Two things to note:
The fact that the Denier Canon consists of nothing but lies, distortions, and trivial truths tells you what substance there is to their position. Why would anyone waste time making these ridiculous arguments if they actually had anything of substance to offer? any actual facts or evidence that shed real doubt on the science?
There are many real and valid questions to be asked about climate change, many important issues to discuss. As a society we need to get on with those discussions instead of wasting time with the Denier nonsense.
Left to the Deniers we would wait until there was certainty. Had they been around in 1775 they would have
sown doubt and confusion until there was proof – real proof, like ranks of red clad troops in the town square and around the captured armoury, and patriots being led away in chains.
The American militia could not afford to wait for that certainty, nor can we. Yes, I am someone who raises the alarm, and damn proud of it. Proud to in some small way be a part of the same group as Paul Revere.
“Plague is natural, maybe it would be a good thing.”
Denierism ca 1498
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 44 … still no evidence.
1As I discuss here I do not use the term “Denier” to refer to all climate change doubters. Those who thoughtfully and intelligently address the facts I call ’skeptics’.
Those who irrationally deny the existence of the science and instead propagate the lies and distortions such as those discussed above and linked to the right under “Debunking Nonsense” are “Deniers”.
The choice of the correct term is based on their actions, not their conclusions.