I accidently stumbled upon a website the other day that reminded me how dangerous the Internet can be for web surfers, especially students, searching for legitimate information. A simple search for a weather report landed me in the site of not just a climate change skeptic, but a climate change contrarian/denier.
A skeptic is one who doubts the validity of a scientific theory until proven otherwise – a necessary debate in science. But a contrarian/denier is one who dismisses the scientific validity of a theory despite overwhelming data, research, reports and scientific consensus. The term "denier" when applied to climate change was initially hotly debated by ethnic communities who claimed it was both usurping and denigrating the concept of World War II Jewish holocaust deniers. However, the terms holocaust and denier have legitimate and necessary meaning beyond the horrors of the last world war holocausts. Further, those terms are not owned by or copyrighted to Judaic history.
A holocaust is a sacrifice consumed by fire. It directly applies to fire and nuclear destruction involving extensive loss of life, but can also be extended to mean any massive slaughter of people. A holocaust denier is one who says the destruction/loss of life never happened. A climate change denier is one who says accelerating climate change due to anthropogenic causes is not happening. Both ways of thinking are equally condemnable.
When 95% of the practicing, published and peer-reviewed climate change scientists globally agree that a) climate change is a natural cyclical process, and b) we are living in a period of accelerating climate change due to anthropogenic causes, then anyone who disagrees with that consensus is not a skeptic, but a contrarian/denier. The accelerated change is a human caused economic decision, and the predicted collapse of species populations, including human, will result in a holocaust unparalleled in human history. The violence in the Middle East will pale in comparison with the global upheaval caused by the collapse of even one of Earth's ecological systems.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to predict what will happen when 7 billion people start scrambling for food and shelter on the remaining habitable spaces. The Earth is clearly saying, "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later." Deny this and we all pay.
Skid Crease, Caledon
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Thanks for the support, Cathryn – you can now subscribe to the site – I’ll try my best to keep it interesting.
"" A climate change denier is one who says accelerating climate change due to anthropogenic causes is not happening."
Wrong. A climate change denier is one who says that the earth's climate does not change at all (these people are rather small in number). A climate skeptic is one who understands that the earth's climate always changes, and who believe our contribution to the earths changing climate is insignificant.
On the other hand, a climate alarmist is one who believes that accelerating climate change is anthropogenic only. These are the true science deniers.
An interesting thought, but wrong. Our modern climate change deniers/contrarians go far beyond the simple notion that Earth’s climate never changes. In fact they will argue that the change is all part of a natural cycle (true) but our current trend has nothing to do with human causes (wrong).
However, the definition of “denier” is not mine, but comes from scientists and science writers far wiser than either of us. One of the best comes from The Skeptics Dictionary: “Climate change deniers are contrarians who challenge the evidence that human activities are causing changes in our planet’s climate that may prove devastating and irreversible.” A climate change alarmist is one who screams, “We’re all going to die tomorrow – stock up and move to high ground!” They are on the opposite of the lunatic fringe from deniers.
In the middle are the 95% of practicing, published and peer-reviewed scientists who know climate change is accelerating and we are the cause. Their predictions are well measured and generally tend to span the 2020 to 2050 period, moving towards extremes at the end of the century.
Try looking up the excellent commentary by David Brin, science writer, who has put together a brilliant exploration of the differences between skeptics and deniers.