Three Types Of Global Warming Moron

This article isn’t here to convince people that man made global warming is a reality. The evidence for that is abundant and overwhelming, but… well, you can lead a moron to knowledge, but you can’t make him read. If you are still unsure about the strength of evidence available, you should have a look at New Scientist’s Guide For The Perplexed.

Arguing with climate change deniers is exhausting and generally a waste of time. Having somehow managed to avoid absorbing any independent information on the subject for the past two to three decades, they’re hardly likely to change their minds now. However, I’ve noticed there are different types of denialist morons, and here I try to classify them into various groups.

Denialist Morons Type One: “There Is No Warming”

This is proper, old-school denial of the simplest kind. After losing some ground in the 80s and early-90s, the fossil fuel industries created a powerful lie machine, and simple denial was the first tool to appear out of their box of tricks. Step one was to simply deny that there were any data to demonstrate warming. Once that was exposed as nonsense, step two was to discredit the data as mistaken in some way. One of the tools for this was the “heat island effect” – claiming that temperature readings had increased over several decades because cities had grown to encompass the stations where temperature readings were made. However, satellite readings then came on-stream, also showing global warming, and negating the “heat island” myth.

But the morons in this category can happily dismiss graphs and melting glaciers and persist that it’s all made up. Ignorance indeed is bliss.

Denialist Morons Type Two: “There Is Warming, But It’s Not Man-Made”

Having seen type-one denial defeated with overwhelming evidence, the more sophisticated moron then moves to stage two: admit warming, but say it’s not man-made. This class of moron will generally use the argument that “the climate has always been changing”, somehow believing that this proves their case. Of course it’s true that the climate has always been changing. Climate scientists have told us that. So type two morons are prepared to believe scientists about past reasons for climate change but not present reasons. It’s a strange thought process, but don’t forget, these are morons we’re dealing with here. Bizarrely, if you follow this reasoning process through carefully enough, morons may accept that the fossilisation of carbon led to global cooling in past geological eras, but that the freeing of that same carbon into the atmosphere (by burning petrol in your car for example) won’t result in warming. Go figure.

It’s pretty easy to demonstrate that CO2 levels have increased since the industrial revolution, so the link between these and the rise in temperature becomes harder to deny, though of course morons do try. Eventually, this argument collapses under its own weight, and the less-moronic type-two morons then evolve to the next stage.

Denialist Morons Type Three: “There Is Man-Made Warming, But There’s No Point Reducing CO2 Emissions”

So having belatedly accepted what’s been generally known for almost 30 years, morons fall back on claiming that there’s no point doing anything. Note that the power of the denial movement comes from generous funding by the fossil fuels industry. The oil business doesn’t particularly care whether people believe in climate change or not – just so long as governments are prevented from taking action (which would result in large drops in revenue for their industry, and which industry wouldn’t fight against that?).

These arguments are far more subtle, and tend to come from economists. They come in two flavours: optimistic and pessimistic.

The Optimists say, “mankind will find a fix to this problem as we’ve fixed problems in the past”. The flaw in this argument is that we often haven’t fixed problems in the past. Many a civilisation has collapsed under problems of its own making or as a result of natural disasters (including natural climate change); the only difference this time is that we’re looking at the first truly global collapse. I’m sad to say that the Freakonomics guys fall into this category, making the “something will turn up” case in their book, Superfreakonomics. I have huge admiration for Levitt and Dubner, and strongly recommend their fascinating podcasts, but sometimes economists need to look at history and science as well as economic theory. The reality is, perhaps something will turn up; that “something” will need enormous funding by someone; it needs to happen in a very short time-space; and if we’re lucky, it may even work and not produce unexpected side-effects. But the history of engineering says that every right answer comes after many wrong answers have been tried, and we don’t have too much room for manoeuvre here.

The Pessimists say, “OK, things are going to get nasty, but it’s probably cheaper and smarter to just let mankind adapt as the change happens – after all, we’ve adapted before”. I looked at a specific case of this type of argument by economist David Friedman in a recent article. There are many problems with this argument; from a simple economics point of view, arguing that a huge unknown cost may be smaller than a known cost is moronic. Factoring in risk means that action must be taken, unless the cost of not doing so can be proven to be lower than the cost of acting. It’s also completely false to say that mankind has comfortably adapted to huge change in the past. In previous ages, the population of the planet has been so much lower that there has always been space for migrations to take place. This time, the change will affect everyone, everywhere. This argument is basically a call to allow people to die in huge numbers – given the existing squeamishness about migration at its current low levels, can anyone envisage that hundreds of millions (or billions) of people will be allowed to successfully migrate and begin life elsewhere?

We’re watching a slow-motion train crash unfold, and yet morons still persist in their endless denial. The tipping point will only come when the US accepts the need for change, and that needs the Republican Party to accept it. But with their moronic, science-denying ways, and endless millions of dollars being sent their way by the oil business, that doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

18 thoughts on “Three Types Of Global Warming Moron”

  1. I agree, except it would be more politically correct to insert "Delayers" in place of "Morons".

    Would say more but have been called away to the rugby. more later.

  2. Wouldn't it be better, instead of calling people names, to actually present the evidence that directly ties CO2 levels with climate change?

    I'm told the evidence is undeniable and lots of people seem to be convinced by it but nobody has ever shown it to me. I've looked online and while I'm convinced that CO2 levels are rising and the world is warming up I've yet to be shown the evidence that proves the former causes the latter.

    Of course that doesn't mean we should't do something to reduce CO2 levels. I mean in theory CO2 could cause climate change and there is climate change happening so we should do everything we can to reduce both. I'm just remain unconvinced that the two are actually linked.

    I mean only a moron would believe something just because they're told the evidence is "overwhelming" and "undeniable". Alas all I can find are page after page of sites doing just that, without actually presenting the evidence.

  3. "Wouldn't it be better, instead of calling people names, to actually present the evidence that directly ties CO2 levels with climate change?"

    Wouldn't it be better to just admit you are ideologically dead set against the idea that humans are warming the planet rather than attempting this charade that you have honestly looked for the evidence, but somehow been unable to find any reputable evidence of what is probably the most studied and publicly discussed scientific subject in human history? What, did the IPCC, Nature, Science, Scientific American, NASA, dozens of climatology blogs by PhD climatologists and Wikipedia all go offline?

    This is type #4: The disingenous "I'm so open to persuasion but the world's biggest collections of evidence just don't do it for me"

  4. OK. NZ won.

    The pattern up to now has been for the climate scientists to set up the skittles, and the delayers to apply hyper-criticism, amplified by the press and the blogosphere, to knock the skittles down, at least in the public mind.

    Enough of that. The delayers have an hypothesis too. It is:"Climate sensitivity is less than 1.5*C. In fact, it's ~ 0.5*C".

    This hypothesis does not have a leg to stand on. In fact, it doesn't even have any ground to stand on. If anything, it is standing on an infinite regress of oversized turtles.

    So all we have to do is to attack the delayers' hypothesis, explaining to the noble journalistic profession what's up, and before you can say "Popper", the battle will be one.

    Won't it?

  5. @Phil, thank you. That is conclusive proof that CO2 is reducing the amount of heat being radiated from the planet. I also notice that methane is having an even greater effect. So while it does provide that crucial link between CO2 and climate change it still doesn't entirely convince me that it's man made. But it's a step in the right direction though.

    @Daniel, no I'm ideologically opposed to knee-jerk sophism. I'm also opposed to having to pay money up-front to be convinced. The problem with all those websites you mentioned is ultimately they'll tell me that the evidence is overwhelming and provide a link to said evidence and then attempt to charge me for the privilege. That smells of snake-oil to me.

    Excluding wikipedia which is good for an overview but too full of asshats and petty morons to be useful beyond that point.

    @progressivetruth medical papers?

  6. there is an easy way to look at things: Climate change (global warming) may be happening or not, may be man made, or may not be. The worst case scenario is to be real and man each one can pick a side and live or let die

  7. "Free" was not among your initial requirements Niles. Even so, two of the sites I listed (the IPCC and NASA) are of course free. But you knew that because you've already perused them in your quest to understand the climate science that no one will explain, right? Of course you have, you're open minded! No preconceptions there causing you to dismiss the well researched conclusions of tens of thousands of climate scientists. No, they all made it up in a big mass delusion, that's a much more plausible theory right?

    I hope you're working on the excuses you'll tell your grandkids to explain to them why your generation didn't fix this climate thing when it was abundantly clear it was a problem and there was still time. I'm sure "Sorry you don't get to see polar bears kids, they were really cool, but see, Al Gore was too fat and he had a big house so I couldn't believe he was telling the truth…" will cut it just fine.

  8. "Climate change (global warming) may be happening or not, may be man made, or may not be."

    If you're standing in the road and a car's heading towards you, do you think "That car will probably stop in time… so I might as well just stand here…"? 😉

  9. @Daniel, why do you feel so threatened by me not agreeing with you 100%?

    I mean I do as much of the environmentally responsible stuff I can afford. I'm convinced that there is climate change, I'm just not convinced it's man-made. But doing stuff that might exacerbating it seems beyond foolish.

    @MoronWatch I live in a city where drivers accelerate towards pedestrians who dare cross their roads…

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  11. 1: no reliable evidence that the earth is warming.
    2: no reliable evidence that if the earth is warming, man is significantly contributing.
    3: no reliable evidence that if man is significantly contributing to the earth warming, it is not a positive developement for humans.

    you morons hate facts don’t you?
    The only way you hypocrites can convince me you truly believe your own garbage is for you to kill yourselves. You will still be wrong but at least you wont be hypocrites.

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