Climate Change: Not A Matter Of Faith

By Mike Kaulbars

The popular wisdom currently is that “Al Gore’s climate change theory” is in big trouble due to scandals, bad science, tampered data, the coldest winter ever, and so on. Not a word of it is true of course. It’s just more of the standard climate change Denier misrepresentation and outright lies. However, it does underscore three critical challenges in the politics of climate change.

In the first place, however certain one may be that the Denier crowd is up to their usual tricks, the average person has no idea where to begin to look to to show why this or that Denier claim is a fraud. This excellent site “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming” covers most of the Denier claims and if you preserve just that one bookmark you will be able to respond to just about every climate change Denier claim you will ever hear.

However, this leads us to the next challenge, which is that ultimately just about everything we know is taken on faith. Oh sure we think the Sun is a star that the Earth revolves around, that electricity is moving electrons, etc, but really it’s all taken on faith. Has anyone seen gravity? We see events that we believe are caused by something called gravity, but that’s as close as it comes.

So although all of the climate change Denier claims can be shown to be nonsense, at some point it boils down to what sources you find credible and/or trustworthy. This is not unique to climate change as an issue. From gun control to a woman’s right to chose every one is citing different “facts.”  The average person does not have the time to look into everything and will make decisions based on faith in the sources.

Climate change is an odd issue for progressives in three regards. First, it does not rest on a foundation of any sort of moral or ethical truth such as “equality” or “justice”, although these are significant with regard to it’s implications. It is simply a matter of pure science, and while the basics are easy enough to understand the particulars are complex. Second, it is the mainstream, institutionalized science that is on our side vs industry and many popular media. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we are part of the oppressor class.

That last point is a significant one. If you are reading this it is because you have access to a computer, and that means privilege. No matter how hard you are trying it is unlikely that any of you have a carbon footprint that is not at least 3 to 4 times what you have a right to, and in most cases it is likely to be much, much higher.

As someone of privilege with respect to this issue the fact is that you are very inclined to be defensive about your lifestyle. In practice this manifests as progressives finding climate change Denial more “credible” even though it comes from the same sources as so many lies about other issues. I am referring to places like the American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Foundation, etc. Names that many of you will recognize as thinly disguised lobbying firms working to undermine just about every aspect of the progressive agenda.

As such, when confronted with climate change Denial in the public sphere the average progressive is at something of a loss. They don’t know the facts as such, there is no underlying moral argument that can be made, and on the whole at least part of them is hopeful that it’s all some huge mistake and we may go on living our comfortable Western lifestyles.

This does not make for a convincing advocate. However, our times demand that we be convincing advocates, so how can that be done without becoming full time climate change advocates?

First, get the issue resolved for yourself. If you are a progressive who chooses to be a so-called “skeptic”, at least be skeptical enough to explore why on this one issue you find yourself in agreement with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. If that doesn’t sound alarm bells for you then nothing will.

Second, be thoughtful about why you believe what you believe. I think you will find that for the average dinner conversation a rational articulation of your own reasoning is more accessible and convincing than the scientific facts would be. A simple example is their claims of a global conspiracy of scientists. Yeah, right. Milllions of scientists from over a hundred nations are in on a conspiracy; they meet Thursdays, it’s potluck, so bring something. The premise is too absurd for words.

Thinking through your own reasoning will give you all of the points you need to make to undermine the Denier claims with the average person, at least those willing to listen. What is usually lacking is the forethought to have organized your own thoughts. If you take the minimal time it takes to do so I think you will find that your reasoning is reasonable and rational, and that many others will think so to. This will make you a convincing and effective advocate without having to become an authority on climate science.

Which leaves only one missing factor, speaking out. Don’t let your silence be consent. At every opportunity fight the injustice of climate change by calmly and rationally articulating your perspective. Nothing more is needed, but that much is critical.

Editor’s Note: Please follow Mike Kaulbars on Twitter and The News Junkie Post.


12 Responses to Climate Change: Not A Matter Of Faith

  1. Mike February 22, 2010 at 6:37 am

    “Denialist” is a better term than “denier”. Climate denialists have a quasi-religous devotion to their pre-determined conclusions, just like Creationists. Put an “ist” on there, it’s much more effective.

    • Ole Ole Olson February 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      Good call, and something that really highlights the anti-science similarities between those who deny natural evolution and those who deny man made climate change.

  2. klem February 22, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    “So although all of the climate change Denier claims can be shown to be nonsense”

    What denier claims are you referring to? The great thing about being a denier is that we are not making any claims at all. The AGW herd is making all of the claims, it is their responsibility to support those claims. That is why the deniers are now winning the AGW war; there is poor support for the AGW claims of future devastation, the science is weak and now the public knows it.

    It is far easier to be a skeptic than a Believer; I used to be a strong Believer until the UN IPCC released the AR4 report in 2007. I actually took the time to read it, and was astonished at how feeble the science was. It took me about 3 months of further research to realize that I wasn’t a Believer anymore. Thank you IPCC!

    • Ole Ole Olson February 22, 2010 at 3:01 pm

      what was it precisely in the IPCC report that made you change your mind?

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  4. Denier February 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    “No matter how hard you are trying it is unlikely that any of you have a carbon footprint that is not at least 3 to 4 times what you have a right to, and in most cases it is likely to be much, much higher.”

    See, we have a disagreement right there. Why do you get to decide what kind of carbon footprint I have a right to? And from what I understand, you base that footprint on how much damage/effect you think our carbon footprint has on the planet. I deny your being correct.

    Ask yourself this, why do I want to destroy the planet? Why do I hate the world? There is no consensus on “man made” global warming. Your attitude is very condescending towards a whole group of people. Mike and Ole both want to associate “Deniers” with Christians as a way of deriding their point of view. Are you sure you guys aren’t part of Amway with your manipulation in order to further your own personal views?

    • Ole Ole Olson February 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm

      When have I ever equated the two? Give me one citation from my entire body of work, and I will apologize right here on the spot.

  5. Dave February 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Why do you capitalize, “Denier?” Is it because you realize these so-called scientists aiming to prove Climate Change were corrupt and you need to demonize those that seek the truth? For shame, Mike Kaulbars.

    • Ole Ole Olson February 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Which scientists exactly? Because there have been literally MILLIONS (note the capitalization for effect) of scientists that have contributed to the body of evidence that we have for anthropogenic climate change over the course of decades, and in 140 countries across the planet.

      If you really want to look for corruption, how about investigating the link between big oil, conservative groups, and shady “studies” or websites designed to look professional, but only meant to actually confuse the public about what the science actually says.

      Listen to the SCIENTISTS, not the spin doctors or corporate tools.

  6. B Diamond February 23, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Mike, it would be nice if you used a few facts to back up your faulty conclusions that are also unsubstantiated and rather poorly drawn.

    PS. I have a brain. IQ over 155.

  7. Victor February 24, 2010 at 3:32 am

    I cant help feeling that climate denial is a crime against humanity. Especially those who spread misinformation for their own financial agenda.

  8. Jerry Matchett February 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Calling names and suggesting ways to “deal” with those who disagree with you on a scientific matter is the most petty childish way of handling a disagreement. Science has traditionally looked at evidence. Sometimes the evidence is contradictory; sometimes it can be analyzed in different ways: often it is incomplete. But discussion of the scientific evidence is the only way to bring out the truth. Stop pretending that those who disagree with you have motives other than finding the truth and stop being so childish in your attitude.

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