Various folks on TSW have been having a discussion on their climate views, including what constitutes “denial.” I’m not sure that the folks who write about climate (or AGW anthropogenic global warming or whatever) have parsed out all the complexities of different views that human beings have, and try to understand why we disagree. Instead, some of our academics are more inclined to study how to convince us to think differently, as if it were simple to figure out what is the correct way to think on such an incredibly complex matter.
There is an extremely diverse range of views about different aspects of climate change and, for some reason, it seems like the Powers That Be that shape our discourse haven’t given us the words to discuss it. Rather, it seems they prefer to lump us into large groups “warmists” “deniers” and so on. So let’s work the other way, and assume we’re doing a survey of different knowledge claims around climate change. We can jointly develop a landscape of views, and after we have done that, we can discuss our own experiences with the climate and climate science literature and use those stories to help understand each other. Because it could be argued that raising the level of hype and calling each other names has not been effective in moving climate policy forward.
I’ve been following climate science and politics for around thirty years in various venues, so I think I can safely say that if we want to talk to each other across our disagreements, we need to do something differently. To my mind that starts with developing our own terminology.. designed to clarify, not to disrespect, nor even dissuade. Personally, I’m not trying to convert anyone to my point of view but I’d like to understand others’. And we don’t have to argue evidence right now either (or ever, it seems like that ends up being a rabbit hole), we can just see where everyone is.
I’d like to start with our own abbreviation for this topic. How about CC for talking about “the issue around different concepts about the sources, intensity and impacts of human-caused changes to the climate and what are the best strategies, time-frames, adaptation and energy technologies to deal with those changes.”
So I’ll start with two approaches and then move on to some others.
The Five Claims: Where Do You Stand?
1. The climate is changing. (1)Strongly Agree, (2)Agree, (3)Neutral, (4)Disagree, (5)Strongly Disagree
2. Humans have never influenced the climate and aren’t influencing it now. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree
3. Humans have influenced the climate in the past and are doing it today in many ways including greenhouse gases, land use, irrigation, wildfire suppression or not, smoke of various kinds. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree
4. Humans are influencing the climate and we need to focus on reducing greenhouse gases, notably carbon and methane. Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree
5. Humans are influencing the climate and if we don’t stop fossil fuels apocalyptic things will happen. This view is held by Antonia Guterres, the current Secretary-General of the United Nations and was stated in July of this year.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that it is not too late to “stop the worst” of the climate crisis, but only with “dramatic, immediate” action. “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived,
On the five claims, I’m a 1(1),2(5),3(1),4 (1.5),5 (5). What are you?
To my mind, a climate change denier is a 1 4 or 5- that would be the plain English read. But I (and others) have been called deniers because we agree all the way up to 5. In fact, some people have been called climate deniers for being anything other than a 5(1). So the term “climate denier” has basically lost all meaning in my opinion.
The CC Ship Analogy
I haven’t decided yet whether this analogy works, so let me know what you think, or if you can think of another.
It seems like people on the CC Ship spend a fair amount of time determining who belongs on it. If you spend time on Climate Twit-X, as I do, you’ll notice there are many discussions around Groups That Don’t Belong There. One week everyone’s ganging up on nuclear, the next week carbon capture. I imagine them trying to throw them overboard. Ironically, the Ship itself is powered by diesel (because there are no alternatives), but the oil and gas people were thrown off a long time ago. Since funding, honors, professional standing, and an unruffleable sense of rectitude are the joys of being on the ship, most people who work for a living don’t want to be tossed off.
This leaves a bunch of us watching the Ship cruise along, watching people, ideas and groups that seem reasonable get thrown overboard. In patterns that can be baffling. I have two problems with the Ship. The solutions to CC don’t seem rational and coherent or based on any kind of physical or engineering reality.
Some areas of science have more representation on the Ship than others, which don’t have to be tossed off the Ship because they are mostly ignored as long as they give lip service to the dominance of the prevailing sciences. That’s where our traditional forest sciences are.
Is anyone steering this thing? We don’t know. And if there is, and one watches carefully the dynamics of who is on and who is off, many get the feeling that the Ship is not really about decarbonization at all. As soon as the Ship gets closer to what we thought was the target (decarbonization) it seems to change direction. Or perhaps it originally was about decarbonization, but is now about prolonging the time the Ship continues to sail, rewarding the same folks and with the same folks in charge.
So I am both agnostic (I don’t know) and skeptical (dubious) about the nature of the Ship, its passengers, and the less-than-transparent decisions being made on the bridge. My skepticism is based on their behavior over the last 30 years that I’ve been watching. Does that make me a “climate” skeptic, or a “Ship” skeptic? But I’m generally skeptical, as a scientist was trained to be back in the day. I’m pretty much skeptical of any claims that seem based on authority, be it religion or science, if those claims don’t agree with other information I have, including personal experience.
Doomberg on Substack had an interesting observation on language last week..maybe Doomie is oversensitive, but at least they are observing the ship. Many of us are only aware of its vague outlines.
For decades, we were told that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels were dooming the planet and that we needed to slow and then eventually eliminate the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Now, with industry on the cusp of validating carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies at commercial scale—an advance that would theoretically allow humanity to benefit from the life-nourishing energy fossil fuels provide while minimizing global emissions of CO2—environmentalists are throwing everything they have at stopping such developments in their tracks. As part of this coordinated effort, the word “emissions” is being purposely de-emphasized in Newspeak, replaced instead with “burning.” Read how YouTube currently contextualizes all videos on its platform that mention climate:
To discover that emissions emanating from the burning of fossil fuels is the real issue to be dealt with, one has to click through to “learn more,” something we presume precious few people do.
Here’s an illustration of the “we know best so we can change the language”. The problem with this is that many of are sensitive to changes in language and manipulation thereby. Not a way to build trust.
From this piece on Ideastream Public Media:
Changing climate language
The words we use to talk about climate change and its effects are essential to make sure we’re communicating the right message, Hassol said. But this also means we should choose our words carefully.
When discussing climate change, Hassol recommends referring to it as human-caused climate change to specify that the effects we’re seeing today are not natural, and instead brought on by human action.
“Some people hear climate change and they think, ‘oh, well then, the change we’re seeing now could be natural,’” she said. “But the science is very clear that this current warming is not natural.”
There are also a few phrases she’d recommend over global warming, which can be confusing and inaccurate when used in conversation.
“[The] problem with global warming is that it sounds nice to some people, right? Warmth is generally a positive thing.,” Hassol said. “Another problem is that it speaks mainly to rising temperatures, and it doesn’t invoke all the other things that come along with the rising temperatures: heavy rainfall that causes flooding, stronger, more destructive hurricanes [and] larger, more intense wildfires.”
Instead, Hassol recommends phrases like climate disruption, global heating and global weirding to cover all the bases of climate change and its effects.
So what do you think? Where do you stand on the Five Claims? Do you think the claims should be expanded to different views on what to do about climate change? Does the Ship of Climate make sense to you? I’m going to moderate this a little more intensively than usual as I think I know the common discussion rabbit holes after much time on Climate Twit-X.