Letter to a Climate ‘Skeptic’

This will be a difficult read for you, but I am trusting that you are mature enough to handle it. At least I hope so. Please understand that this is not an attack on you, nor a judgment of your abilities or intelligence. I say this as a friend who is hoping to help you see how you have been conned and how you continue to be conned, both by the professional con men and by yourself.

To begin I would like to sample a few of your arguments about climate change to demonstrate both that they are wrong, and also that really you should have seen immediately that they were wrong.

You see, the problem here is not so much the errors in the arguments, but your apparent determination to believe them. The ironic truth is that those who see themselves as being immune to being hoodwinked are often the easiest to fool.

One claim you have made is that the IPCC failed to consider past climate changes and that the Earth has historically been hotter than now. Of course you had only to search the Internet for ‘IPCC’ and click two links to discover this claim is total nonsense. The summery report includes a 64 page chapter discussing past climates and their relevance .

You suggest that past warming somehow prove that the current one is natural. If a person says cancer kills a lot of people, you would not assume that they are also saying that all deaths are caused by cancer. Why then do you imagine that when scientists say that the current warming is caused by humans that they are also claiming that all warming must be caused by humans? It is a very basic logical error that you would not normally make, yet you have this time.

What puzzles me is the belief that the very scientists who are the ones who told us about past climates in the first place somehow forgot about them when talking about climate change. In fact information on past climates is taught in grade school and may be found in ‘Wonder Books’ for children. How could anyone seriously believe that millions of scientists would overlook this? or think they could avoid discussing it? The premise is hopelessly absurd.

You explained that many professionals, such as geologists, physicists and meteorologists question anthropogenic climate change. You obviously never checked the websites of the American Meteorological Society, the American Physical Union, the American Geological Union, or any other of thousands of scientific organizations. You would have found that they are all solidly supportive of the science and reject Denierism for the nonsense that it is.

The explanation is simple of course. First, most of these “professionals” have only an undergrad degree and do no climate work. Uninformed coffee room banter is cheap and meaningless, and even professionals say some of the stupidest things about aspects of their field that they know nothing about.

Of course they should know better, but they are human too. When these professionals sit down with the actual science and examine it critically they realize that the science is solid and claims to the contrary are nonsense. That is why all of their professional associations reject Denierism.

You say “follow the money”, implying that scientists lie about their results in order to get funding. Like all of the Denier arguments this is so silly it defies belief. In the first place science gets funded to study something before the answer is known, not based on the results it will get. It overlooks the fact that to get funding you say that the answer is unclear, not that it is settled. It also asks us to believe that millions of scientists across over a hundred nations and tens of thousands of research institutes are all in a global conspiracy … yeah, right.

The argument itself is a logical error (Circumstantial ad hominem) because someone profiting from a fact does not make the fact wrong. That would be like claiming that gravity is a hoax because the airlines profit from the belief that people can’t fly. It’s just absurd. If you can show that the facts are wrong then the supposed profits might explain why they are, but showing possible profit is not a substitute for having actual evidence.

You said “follow the money”, but never asked yourself who profits from climate Denierism. The possible profits from green technologies are supposedly corrupting the political and scientific process, but the actual trillions that the oil industry makes from the status quo is not motivating them to lie about the science? Or to interfere in the politics? Of course it has. Why did that never occur to you? And why didn’t you check?

Another inconsistency that I thought would cause you to reflect on the legitimacy of the whole ‘climate skepticism’ argument. In presenting evidence to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming the Republicans chose not a scientist, but a journalist as their only witness. Not merely a journalist, but one notorious for getting all of his facts wrong (here , here, here and here). Why have an idiot spouting nonsense as your chief spokesperson if you have actual evidence? Did that not seem odd to you?

In fact every one of the Denier claims are total nonsense, as you can find at such sites as Skeptical Science , How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic , and Peter Sinclair’s excellent Climate Denial Crock of the Week series. They are easy enough to find … why did you never look?

Which brings up what should be another disturbing question for you. If the so-called skeptics have any real argument at all, why do they bury it with all of these lies and hoaxes? Logically if one had any argument of substance you would highlight it, place it center stage … not make it impossible to find.

A skeptic is not merely skeptical about one side of an alleged controversy, they question all claims. Question, and check … or at least opt to remain undecided until they have a chance to check. You didn’t. You blindly accepted the claims of the Deniers. Why?

You pride yourself on your intelligence and thoughtfulness, and not without cause. Generally that is an accurate description of you. Unfortunately the pride has gotten in the way this time. The image of the maverick who questions deeply is so attractive that you embraced the image without bothering to do the questioning. You have not been skeptical at all. You have been, if anything, quite gullible. In fact real skeptics detest the climate Deniers for the charlatans that they are.

Science is not afraid of real skepticism. It is the very life blood of science. I want you to be skeptical, to be a real skeptic. Critically examine the Denier claims. Don’t believe either set of arguments, check for yourself. That’s what skepticism is.

I am not worried that you might check the science. I want you to, and as soon as possible. We need many more climate activists, and there is nothing more effective at creating one than knowing what the facts are. You actually are an intelligent and thoughtful person, so get the facts … and then get those bastards who have been lying to you.


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