It has become increasingly difficult to understand the motivation behind climate science denialism. The Earth’s climate is changing, mainly in the form of increased temperatures of the oceans and the atmosphere, because of the release of copious amounts of previously trapped Carbon through the burning of fossil fuels. There is no longer a question that this is happening, and every year, the various details that one might like to see worked out, regarding the mechanisms or effects of climate change, are increasingly known. To state, with a straight face, that the jury is still out, or that we can’t separate natural variation from human caused changes, or that the earth has stopped warming for the last decade, or any of the other things we constantly hear from climate change denialists is exactly the same thing as standing there with a big sign that reads “I am a moron.” Politicians, who by and large remain ignorant of all sorts of science, have become aware of this over recent years and many now couch their phraseology in cautious terms, if they happen to be running there campaigns, as many are, on the Oil Teat. Even more amazing, principled Libertarians have stopped denying the reality of climate change, taking a different tact to avoid any responsibility or action: Yes, the climate change we’ve been busy denying the reality of for the last 30 years is real, they agree, but it is too late to do anything about it now so let’s just move inland as the sea level rises and buy lighter jackets.
So why is climate change denialism still a thing at all? And it is a thing. There are individuals on the lecture circuit, bloggers, and a handful of scientists who continue to peddle what can only be understood as willfully ignorant or evasive, incomplete or cherry picked, or in some cases, just plain dishonest ‘analyses’ or interpretations of data suggesting that climate change is not real, or is not human caused if it is real. There is so much of this out there that some of it even gets published now and then. For example, a recent paper in a mid-level general science journal made a very good argument that “natural variation” explains about 40% of the putative warming in recent decades on this planet, as opposed to the release of fossil Carbon Dioxide by burning of fuels. Unfortunately, the “good argument” in that paper systematically ignored a rather impressive literature that had already addressed the same issues, found problems with an entire methodological approach and interpretation, leaving the just-published interpretation not only impossible, but actually rather embarrassing to others in the climate science community that someone would still be saying it. (You’ve not heard about this yet, but I guarantee it will be in the news and on the blogs over the next few weeks.) Most times, though, the science-denialism comes from a handful of very active blogs, from those charismatic lecture circuit denizens such as “Lord” Christopher Monkton, and a very large number of commenters and their probable sock puppets who show up at every on line newspaper and blog to spew the same exact lines again and again even though every single remark they make … without exception … has long ago been discredited with science and reason.