MarkH has written a guide to the global warming denialists. The Competive Enterprise Institute wins the “bottom of the barrel” rating.


  1. #1 Robert S.
    May 22, 2007

    So is a “global warming denialist” somebody who goes around denying the globe is warming? Or does it mean more than it actually says….

  2. #2 Dano
    May 23, 2007

    ‘Denialist’ has the undertone of an ideological mindset:

    Virnmintalist hatin’, hippie hatin’, red-blooded skeptikel Murrican who’s a-hatin’ them commanist greenies ‘n their big conspiracy agin’ Murrica.

    But generally a denialist just denies scientific conclusions that disagree with their beliefs (generally ill-informed).



  3. #3 guthrie
    May 23, 2007

    But we need to be sur eof their taxonomy. Are they lying denialists, who know the science is against them but just say what they always say, or are the ill informed members of the public?
    I’ve had several people online say, in all seriousness, “of course our CO2 is not to blame, after all its such a small part of the air”.
    Or “Its all the suns fault anyway, so theres nothing we can do about it.”

    When asked for evidence that the sun is causing the current warming they resolutely fail to provide any.

  4. #4 Robert S.
    May 23, 2007

    I’m saying as a statement, it should mean what it says, somebody who denys the globe is warming. As in “I deny the globe is warming.” That’s a “global warming denialist” by definition, isn’t it? Not someone that says “It’s globally warming, but…”

    The “something more” would include making a denialist anyone that says things like “I don’t think the need for action is that urgent.” “I see paranoia on this, shouldn’t we concentrate more on alternative energy sources?” “I don’t totally trust the IPCC as a purely scientific body, at least not in WGII or WGIII maters.” “But water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas.” “I doubt the degree of warming that is anthropogenic is as high as claimed.” “The high degree of confidence of the cause/effect of CO2 to warming is perhaps overstated.” “I think the IPCC is overestimating things in their projections.” “We really don’t fully understand the degree to which water (in clouds as a solid) is responsible for the heat increase and should study it more.” “Stratospheric changes of H2O in the tropopause region might be a forcing, and additional measurements and analyses are clearly needed to explain the observed trends.” “Everyone keeps talking mostly about greenhouse gasses, why not more about land-use change, the other factor in human-induced climate change?” “Water vapor is not a greenhouse gas and it doesn’t absorb infrared nor solar short wave radiation.” “But there’s a virtually inexhaustible list of complex interactions, some of which are poorly known or perhaps even unknown!!”

    Are people that say any of those types of things “global warming denialists” also? If so, maybe we need a new term. Or is that phrase there simply to mean anything anyone wants it to?

  5. #5 Tim Lambert
    May 23, 2007

    It refers to people who deny anthropogenic global warming (i.e. claim it’s not warming or we’re not causing it.)

  6. #6 Robert S.
    May 23, 2007

    Fair enough. I appreciate your clear and direct answer.

    I just wish we could use a term that is less emotionally charged. And more correct by the person and their actions. (“Some Degree of Anthropogenic Global Warming Doubter” for example?) Like “That guy’s a SDOAGWD!” (Pronounced Suh-doh-ah-guh-wed) (PS that’s a joke)

    Seriously, too often I see people like me, who do agree with

    The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability.

    but when we doubt some of the more radical (read that as “expensive and of unsure worth”) solutions we are called a “global warming denialist”.

    Certainly, no rational person wants to live on Venus or in a cloud of smog or pay $1000 for a litre of petrol. Some of us just have different opinions of how to go about it.

    Can’t we wonder about levels of degrees and then advocate what we believe based upon emotion and instinct? Especially given what the IPCC themselves says and does along those lines. It’s not like (at least not in the TAR) they are being irrational or dictatorial or anything. They try to generate thought and discussion about possibilities based upon scenarios (stories with and without models of various types based upon current scientific knowledge written by groups of scientists). Great idea, we have to start someplace.

    The globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4°C to 5.8°C over the period 1990 to 2100. These results are for the full range of 35 SRES scenarios, based on a number of climate models.

    Sometimes GHG emissions scenarios are less quantitative and more descriptive, and in a few cases they do not involve any formal analysis and are expressed in qualitative terms.

    Future levels of global GHG emissions are the products of a very complex, ill-understood dynamic system, driven by forces such as population growth, socio-economic development, and technological progress; thus to predict emissions accurately is virtually impossible.

    Many physical and social systems are poorly understood, and information on the relevant variables is so incomplete that they can be appreciated only through intuition and are best communicated by images and stories.

    Good scenarios are challenging and court controversy… {and} used intelligently they allow policies and strategies to be designed in a more robust way.

    Although I think 1.4 might be a little too high, given that the last 125 or 45 years trendline for GHCN-ERSST is .6 But that seems to be accelerating, .8 in the last 15 years, so maybe not too high. Depends on what we do, right? And they’re helping us develop what to do.

    Okay, sure. I’m all for that. Let’s use the information to help along methods to control population growth, socio-economic development, and technological progress to reduce emissions. Let’s understand the physical and social systems better and gather more complete information on the relevant variables while we do so. This is what we should be talking about. And doing.

  7. #7 Dano
    May 23, 2007

    We’ve covered this ground already. Quiggin came up with ‘delusionist’ because the noise machine was effective for a while.

    Denialist is an apt term, and I’m sticking with it. No need to muddy the waters.



  8. #8 Robert S.
    May 23, 2007

    I don’t think I’m muddying the waters, it’s just I object to the term because it (the word denialist, like delusionist, skeptic, etc) (or otoh religious fanatic, alarmist) are all negative words/phrases that in this stage of the ‘debate’ are (I believe) counter productive.

    (In any case, nice comment #48 RE current #s 36, 41, 42, 45 (Matt looking for information on a little-studied phenomenon):) over on RC

    I agree wholeheartedly. (Seriously)

    That’s the way the discussions should be going, given what I quoted from the IPCC in #6 above and many other factors. They understand that we don’t know a lot, there’s no clear proof, and that they need to use dialog and examples to describe to everyone clearly what might happen based upon possibilities. Without acting like anything else other than professionals (I just happen to think they don’t do a very good job at getting that point across to everyone; their materials are far too extensive, even the summaries.)

    In any case, honest open debate doesn’t come from name calling and dismissal, it comes from discussing the facts as logical rational adults ourselves with those that may have a difference of opinion regardless if they are or not. Not all of us that disagree with some points are raving stupid lunatic kooks. And it adds nothing to the debate to treat anyone like that.

    Not even to all the people so many bloggers seem to delight in nitpicking to death about everything said in posts or comments or emails. Or ignoring all positive or correct thoughts and hammering on the errors and negative. It’s not productive and it doesn’t help a cause.

    Think attitudes like this lead to communication happening? “Pah, we are done with you, kindly relegate your metareligious quasithinking into your own pit of abject despair, over there in the dark corner of the middle ages.” I don’t think it does.

    Remember the “discussion” about the AGW temps? How many posts did it take for somebody to point out I was using January only rather than all year or that I was using the difference at first rather than the trend? (Not that the numbers were much different) I was trying to make a point there. And got no help at first. And no answers until far later. Think that’s productive? I don’t. Think anyone learned anything? I did. How much easier would it have been to instead of arguing about tenths of a percent to have said “Even a .5 degree C rise can be a disaster, look here and here and here.” “Oh, okay, I can see why you would be worried.” Get my drift?

    People respond better to civility and neutral labels.


  9. #9 LogicallySpeaking
    May 23, 2007

    It really depends what you’re trying to accomplish. While I can find plenty of examples to the contrary, I do believe most blogs and ensuing comments are in the interest of open debate. To that extent, I completely agree with what you’re saying.

    However, I differ in opinion when it comes to matters of public policy. I don’t believe that most matters of public policy come from honest open debate; they should, but they don’t.

  10. #10 Robert S.
    May 23, 2007

    I agree, it depends what you’re trying to accomplish. I’d hope that would be education, clearing up misconceptions, being able to see both sides, and an entertaining time. :)

    Ah, like oil and water, so go politics and honesty!

  11. #11 Dano
    May 23, 2007

    ‘Denialist’ doesn’t pertain to those few on comment boards who are honestly trying to figger out an issue. ‘Denialist’ refers to the typical comment board denizen who figuratively sticks fingers in ear while typing “lalala I cannnn’t hearrrr you”.

    ‘Skeptic’ is a loaded term (made loaded by the denialism industry), but is apt and appropriate for, I’d say, the Robert S commenters of the world.



  12. #12 Chris O'Neill
    May 24, 2007

    “How many posts did it take for somebody to point out I was using January only rather than all year”

    For how many posts did you keep ignoring advice that you were doing something wrong until someone else did the detective work on your own work that you should have done yourself?

    “(Not that the numbers were much different)”

    People who like getting the numbers right are picky that way. Especially when there’s an argument going on.