For those who haven't yet, here's a quick reminder to please visit the disclaimer post first. Thanks. :-)
Today, I want to discuss one of the issues that greatly concerns me when it comes to discussions about climate change and global warming. There's an alarming trend towards trying to silence people on both sides of the subject. As an example, someone on a list mentioned things her husband has experienced.
My husband happens to be a government scientist in the area of climate change. ...my husband, if anything, has risked being reprimanded in his job for speaking up about climate change. ...He is not allowed to talk to the media about his opinions. For a while he was not even allowed to use the word "climate change".
There are too many instances like this happening, on both sides of this issue. This sort of thing shouldn't happen. When knowledgeable people wish to share what they know, I want to hear it, even if I disagree with them. Especially if I disagree with them. Granted, I have little patience for people that do little more than parrot things just because they saw it on tv or something, without questioning what they're repeating. Thankfully, they're fairly easy to spot. What bothers me is when those who are most visible or accessible to the public deliberately ignore opposing views, or go out of their way to denigrate those who disagree with them. This is one of the reasons I am so bothered by the "consensus" comments, since the only way there could be consensus on the topic is if one side is being totally ignored or rejected. Worse, is when differing opinions are twisted and insulted.
A couple of examples; in a post I can't find right now, someone rather dismissively wrote that if people wanted to discuss conspiracy theories about global warming, they could just come over to my blog. I was rather startled by that, as no one at any time had suggested any sort of conspiracy! Then, as I read the article reprinted in the comments of an earlier post, I read
In the wacky world of the climate conspiracists no explanations are required. The world's most conservative scientific body has somehow been transformed into a conspiracy of screaming demagogues.
I find these accusations that those who disagree with human-caused global warming to be conspiracy theorists curious, indeed. While I certainly believe there are those taking full advantage of people's fears to make a profit (carbon credit companies come to mind), the thought of some grand, organized conspiracy had simply never occurred to me until I suddenly found myself essentially being called a conspiracy theorist! Why? Apparently, it's because I don't agree on the roles that humans and CO2 play in global warming. These writers, however, simply dismiss all those who disagree as conspiracy theorists.
Other accusations and implications, however, are far more disturbing.
When I kept hearing people say that scientists were 100% behind the idea that humans and CO2 were causing global warming, I went looking. In a very short time, I found a long list of highly qualified scientists and researchers who disagreed. When sending the list, I made a point of saying that none of these people were denying that global warming was happening, and neither was I. What they (and I) were questioning was the cause, and what (if anything) we can or should be doing about it. I then asked, if there was such a consensus in regards to humans causing global warming, why was it so easy for me to find this list? This is the response I got.
It is not too hard to find someone to support any point of view you care to take on any issue under the sun. Just because there are two competing points of view on a subject does not mean that they are equally valid - one has to consider the relative merits of the two positions. There are plenty of people who claim to have proof that the holocaust never happened. There are still scientists who claim that there is no link between smoking and lung cancer. A few years ago, a book called "The Bell Curve" made the claim that white people are inherently more intelligent than people of colour.
[snip]... Global warming deniers employ a similar tactic - they just keep repeating their claims at every opportunity knowing that they will seep into the public consciousness and by the time they have been refuted it is too late to completely undo the damage.
I found this to be horribly insulting. First, there's the suggestion that for those who disagree, their opinions are not equally valid - so all those credentials were simply ignored because they disagree. Then, despite my emphasizing that *no one* on that list was saying that global warming wasn't happening, the writer (like so many others) dismissed them all as global warming deniers. Worse still, the writer even equates those who dispute the causes of global warming with holocaust deniers and racists!
Reading this response was quite literally like a punch in the gut. I felt sickened to be lumped in the same category as the Zundels of the world. That anyone should even equate questioning the causes of global warming with holocaust deniers and white supremacists disgusts me. Not only is it an insult directed at me, but it cheapens those who suffered the horrifying tragedy of the holocaust. Seriously, if the writer had walked up to me and slapped me in the face, it wouldn't have insulted me as much as what he wrote here.
Now, I don't believe the person who wrote this intended to insult me like this, but I have a hard time understanding how someone could write something so disgusting, and not realize that what they were saying was so completely inappropriate!
The write didn't stop there, however...
The movie you refer to tries to imply that we should not be concerned about Carbon since it makes up such a relatively small proportion of all of the gases in the atmosphere. This is so idiotic an argument as to defy belief. Would you let your kids drink cool-aid that contained only minute amounts of arsenic?
Aside from the continued insulting language, I couldn't help but shake my head at the comparison. Have you ever eating apple seeds by mistake? They contain trace amounts of cyanide. Granted, you'd have to eat a cup full before it would even make you sick, but it's still there. Toxins also accumulate in the peels of apples, as well as in the skins of potatoes. Do you take prescription medications? Many of them are extremely dangerous, and thousands of people die every year because of them. Do you vaccinate your children? Some children react horribly to vaccinations, but until you actually give them one, how would you know if your child is one of them? Do you BBQ? Cooking, particularly over a flame, can increase carcinogens in the food being cooked.
There are so many things we eat and drink every day that are harmless under normal circumstances, but dangerous if ingested improperly or in excessive amounts. Even water will kill you if you drink to much of it. Heck, there are substances we breath every day that are far more harmful to us and the planet than the amount of CO2 in the air, and I'd be much happier if we as a society spent more time, energy and money towards cleaning these known toxins from the air than on reducing CO2!
Up until a few months ago, Stephen Harper was making a similar argument - Carbon is essential for life he said, so how can we have too much of it? By the same token, the residents of New Orleans should have embraced Hurricane Katrina as it brought them so much of that most essential of life's ingredients - water!
Another example of twisting what was said to mean something else. The comparisons are extreme and, quite frankly, I found using the tragedy of New Orleans in this manner to be offensive as well. I suppose it accomplished what it meant to, which I am assuming to be an emotional response. If the writer intended to intimidate or shame me into shutting up, it obviously didn't work.
As for your list of experts, I recognise the very first name on your list, Richard Lindzen. He is one of the leading climate change sceptics and when I did some research on him for a letter to the Journal last year, I found that he has received extensive funding from the Oil, Coal and Gas industries. I would not be surprised to find similar connections between the Fossil Fuel industry and many of the other names on the list.
Once again, the writer ignored the point of my sending the list, which was how easy it was for me to find a significant number of highly qualified experts who disagreed about the causes of global warming. Or perhaps he didn't. He recognized the first name on the list as someone who apparently receives funding from these industries. (Of course, so does the David Suzuki Foundation, but I don't see anyone saying he's in the pockets of Industry.) Because of this one connection he recognized, he dismissed the entire list.
Finally, being a climate change sceptic in Alberta does not exactly make you a radical free-thinker standing alone against the tide of public opinion.
Wow. I never thought of myself as being radical, or that I was standing alone against any tide at all. There are so many who question as I do, it just never occurred to me. Another rather insulting statement to make.
There are other examples I could give, but I've already been at this for far too long. I'm not going to be home much for the next few days, so it might be a while before I can post on the subject again.