I know it’s going to be inaccurate to do so, however, I’m going to thank Pete Ridley (a denier who used to haunt these parts) for his comment on Greenfyre’s post Another Top International Climate Change Denier Silliness or Two! It got me thinking about something I should have already realised.
What Pete had to say was in fact, nothing new, it’s simply one of the cornerstones to the climate change denial movement. Basically, the argument is rhetoric to the point of sheer ignorance. Example:
Prove to me that CO2 is causing climate change.
We know CO2 is a greenhouse gas, with a radiative forcing of 1.66Wm-2  and that we have increased the concentration of CO2  in the atmosphere by more than a third in just over a century. Over this period, we’ve seen the temperature anomaly increase by roughly 0.65  degrees C over this period.
But this does demonstrate climate change.
When we look at a why range of biological indicators (such as timing of bloom, migrations, growing season, increasing coral bleaching events etc) and physical indicators (such as the hydrological cycle; glacial activity, drought, storm activity: Hadley Cell activity etc) over 90% have changed in the direction that would be anticipated in response to a a warming global climate.
But this doesn’t mean it’s because of CO2…
And so on. In short, this loop demonstrates total or selective ignorance of science in demanding one answer for everything, which as most of us would realise would be:
- weaker for it (compared the vast wealth of independent evidence covering a wide range of disciplines that together support the reality of Anthropogenic Climate Change [ACC], one report is quite limiting), and,
- impossible, simply due to the immensity of variables involved.
Basically, within the public debate arena (because, behind the scenes, it appears that even the most outwardly “sceptical” political groups don’t really question the reality of ACC, see WtD, Cablegate and US climate policy: fighting a global price on carbon, fears of a German-US split on climate) we have a stalemate situation. Deniers feel confident to ignore all the telling signs of ACC, absurdly, because they think that it doesn’t prove climate change.
A recent example would be the noise earlier this year, first with freak snow storms and later with the heat waves (both in the northern hemisphere). Inaccurately, deniers screamed in the cold snap that climate change was dead and the more reasonable replied that a snow storm or two proves nothing. Later the deniers were screaming that a heat wave means nothing because we refuted their snow storm claims. In reality, both the freak snow storms and unusual heats waves are probably the result of a pair of dice now rolling 2 – 13 instead of 1 – 12 (See here) as are many other events.
However, as this persistent “debate” demonstrates, no amount evidence will be enough to demonstrate to a climate change denier that CO2 has a greenhouse effect, that our activities have increased the amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and the results of this are overwhelmingly obvious, from the global temperature anomaly (where the night warming increase is greater than the day trend) to the many physical and biological indicators.
You’ll find instead strange notions of secret plots and vague references to science that doesn’t exist or is debunked (ie. it’s the sun, it’s the urban heat effect etc). Yet, these characters, apparently, really do want proof, or so they say.
I have an old thermostat in my office, which no-one knew if it was working or if it was hooked into any air-conditioning unti. To test this, I had to adjust it. That’s fair enough, isn’t it?
Likewise, the only obvious solution would be for us reduce our CO2 emissions and develop industry devoted to reducing the concentration of CO2 already in the atmosphere. So far, the trend has been going only in one direction and that’s not enough for some people to feel certain about.
Therefore, I feel certain that if any of these so-called climate “sceptics” are at all legitimate and are not yet convinced by the one-way trend, they too would want to know if adjusting CO2 levels do in fact work in both directions, thereby proving conclusively whether or not the greenhouse is a real phenomena or not (although I have little doubt). If we are to take such criticism seriously, it must be based on individuals who truly desire clarity and evidence. If more than a century of data and investigation hasn’t been enough, this must be the only logical next step.
As for anyone else who demand proof but reject this option as well as the mounting evidence on offer, well, I feel confident in concluding that they can simply be ignored, because theirs is agenda devoid of reason.
* This is another argument under the “Alarming Religion” list.
 Amano, et al, 2010. A 250-year index of first flowering dates and its response to temperature change. Proc. R. Soc. B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0291
 Rosenzweig et al, 2008. Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change. Nature. 453(15):353-357. doi:10.1038/nature06937
 Thackeray et al, 2010. Tropic level asynchrony in rates of phenological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02165.x
* A late note.
In the comments below, Roger has provided yet another example of this nonsensical argument provided by such people: (basics rather than the detail)
You once said that, now your saying this.
Indeed I did say that and I still believe that, but this is why I refined my argument…
Don’t write a novel, just answer the question.
Quite clearly, this form of useless debate is simply one of the tools for inducing paralysis.