The meaning of denial

The term “denier” or “denialist” is one which climate change sceptics view either as inaccurate, offensive, or insulting depending on their stance on the subject and their perception of the intention of the perpetrator.

No sceptic with any reasonable grasp of the subject disputes that climate changes and none disagrees fundamentally that Earth has warmed by a Celsius degree or so since the Little Ice Age — though there are caveats around the extent caused, to a degree, by the “fluidity” of some of the temperature data.

Nor is it generally true that sceptics as a body dispute that carbon dioxide very likely has some part to play in temperature variation in the atmosphere or that man as a species inevitably has some influence on the climate of the planet he lives on and works for its raw materials and for the crops he needs to survive.

So, other than when applied to the lunatic fringe, the phrase “climate change denier” can have no basis in fact and those who use it are being deliberately perverse or demonstrating a wilful ignorance of just what it is their adversaries believe.

But wait a minute. What if they are right and those who call themselves sceptics do actually “deny climate change”? Suppose that the problem is one of definition and understanding of what constitutes “climate change” and what constitutes “denial”.

To investigate this we need to find out who are the supporters of climate change and look at what they believe as we can understand from what they say.

In the beginning was Paul Ehrlich. The great mystery of Paul Ehrlich (at least to those of us not of the Elect) is how any man can be so consistently wrong in virtually every pronouncement he makes and still be considered worth listening to.

Strictly speaking he pre-dates “climate change” but as we know, his claims are all of a piece with that belief system, and it is in that era (early 1970s) that we need to start.

In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct

and

Five years is all we have left if we are going to preserve any kind of quality in the world

(Both from 1970)

And to which we can add:

Giving society cheap, abundant energy . . . would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.

Of similar vintage — and roughly the same level of accuracy in its predictions — is The Club of Rome, formed in 1968 and best known for Limits to Growth published in 1972 which predicted that economic growth could not continue indefinitely because of the limited availability of natural resources, particularly oil.

As Bjorn Lomborg has effectively proved in The Skeptical Environmentalist there is no realistic limit to the availability of natural resources since mankind’s ingenuity has always found ways round any difficulties which potential resource depletion might throw up and has always managed to discover new uses for old resources or new resources to continue old uses! It was (among others) the famous 1970s OPEC oil minister Sheikh Yamani who said, “the Stone Age did not come to an end because we ran out of stones”, adding that anything that might be called the “oil age” would end long before we run out of oil.

Moving the story on a few years (the global cooling panic never having quite caught on in the 70s) we can now look at the words of Maurice Strong at the 1992 “Earth Summit” (a fairly meaningless title for one of the many UN-sponsored navel-gazing exercises which have come to characterise what might be called “Gaiaism”, or Earth-worship):

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?

To which the only sane answers have to be “no” and “no”!

(The mental cataracts that blind the environmentalists to the realities of human nature, human development and the relationship between man and nature through the ages could provide a major subject for scholarship but have no place in this article. Some other time, maybe!)

By this time the activists — many of them homeless ex-communists and fellow travellers bereft at the loss of their intellectual teat, the Soviet Union — have settled on “global warming” as the likeliest candidate for persuading the sheeple that they need to give up their comfortable (relatively) 20th century lifestyle and hand over the running of the world to the likes of Al Gore, James Hansen, Maurice Strong, Paul Ehrlich and a motley coterie of similar obsessives whose main claims to anything approaching fame are a) an ability to be wrong about everything, and b) the knack of continuing to persuade people that their nonsense is worth listening to.

By the time of the 1992 Rio Summit, the global warming scam was in full swing and before anyone had had the opportunity to debate the science we were all informed that the science was no longer a matter for debate because it was “settled”. Activists try to deny that the phrase was ever used but it is quite clear what they meant though as time passes it becomes more evident that the idea did not emanate from reputable scientists, not even the second-rate ones with second-rate degrees studying a second-rate subject at second-rate universities.

(In passing it is worth noting that Sir Crispin Tickell, largely responsible for persuading Margaret Thatcher that clambering on the anti-CO2 bandwagon was a good political move, graduated from Oxford with a degree in Modern History — his credentials for making any pronouncement on the subject of global warming, climate in any of its forms, and the dangers or otherwise of carbon dioxide are no better than mine!)

It is also worth noting that Tickell’s approach to Thatcher was purely political and that even at that stage “the science” was only useful as a means of persuading politicians to take the political action which the environmentalists had been urging on an unreceptive population for years.

It was always about the politics and the science was only ever incidental. Two more quotes:

From Tim Wirth (organiser of the notorious Hansen Senate hearings in 1988)

“We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic socialism and environmental policy.”

And from IPCC Working Group III co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer

[COP-16 is actually] one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War…

One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.

[In fact, it has] “almost nothing to do with the environmental policy.” [Its real purpose] “is redistributing the world’s wealth and natural resources.”

So in their own words the evidence that “climate change” is nothing to do with climate and everything to do with wealth redistribution (no mention of increasing the size of the cake, only of slicing it differently) or, as Wirth ingenuously describes it, “economic socialism”.

So far, so obvious. But where does the idea of denialism come from and why do the activists insist on the continued use of the word and its connotations in the face of the evidence? What are we missing?

Well, it all depends on what you mean …

As we know, “global warming” has morphed into “climate change” and “climate disruption” and (recently) “climate weirding” because, so we like to think, the climate refuses to play its part and the activists are being harried into a new phrase to avoid the inevitable loss of faith by the sheeple in a concept that patently is not consistent. I suspect this is only partly true and that “climate change” in all its variations has been turned into a global concept which bears little, if any, relation to climate or to science.

The hell with “climate”, Wirth tells us, the important thing is to do “the right thing” in terms of economic socialism.

And that, if I’m right, is what we are “denying”.

By attempting to argue the science we are opposing the vision of those like Wirth and his allies for whom “climate change” is no more than a nifty title for a whole package of ideas and ideals which can be adapted to suit the various elements — whether born-again socialists, amorphous environmental do-gooders, or ambitious control-freaks — prepared to sign up to the Grand Plan, whatever that may turn out to be.

We are, indeed, “denying” climate change because Climate Change is not about a changing climate but about finding within the science of climate an argument that can be used to justify what I have previously described as “unpicking the Industrial Revolution”.

For sure, climate has very little to do with it and if you have any doubts, let’s try one more quotation, this from Michael Oppenheimer, formerly of the Environmental Defense Fund, a lead author of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report and now a co-ordinating lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report:

…the only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.

And if anyone can explain to me the connection between that particular comment and Oppenheimer’s position as an IPCC author except in the terms I have described above, I’d love to hear it.

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