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Climate Hustle

There's no room for a climate of denial

Posted on 8 June 2011 by haydnwashington

This opinion piece was published in The Canberra Times by Dr Haydn Washington, co-author of Climate Change Denial, published by Earthscan.

Denial is as old as humanity but is not the same as scepticism. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sceptic as ''A seeker after truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions''. We should thus all seek the truth. Genuine scepticism in science is one of the ways science progresses.

Denial is very different; it is a refusal to believe something, no matter what the evidence. Climate change deniers often call themselves ''sceptics''. However, refusing to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence is not scepticism but denial.

Paradoxically, as scientific evidence for human-caused climate change pours in, interest and belief in climate change within the public is on the decline. In Norway, the percentage of people who were worried dropped from 40 per cent in 1989 to less than 10 per cent in 2001. In Australia in 2009 the Lowy Institute reported that 56 per cent of those surveyed thought climate change was very important. However, this was down 19 per cent from 2007. How can this be?

One can divide psychological denial into three categories: literal (the denial industry, often funded by fossil fuel companies); interpretive (e.g. government spin or describing a massacre of civilians as ''collateral damage''); and implicatory (denial ''we the people'' engage in). Implicatory denial is not denying the facts about climate change per se, but denies the implications and is a failure to transform your belief into action. People accept information about human-caused climate change as true, yet choose to ignore it. We can thus let denial prosper within ourselves, through a sort of self-interested sloth.

There are various types of denial arguments. One useful classification breaks them down into ''conspiracy theories'', ''fake experts'', ''impossible expectations'', ''misrepresentations'' and ''cherry picking''. Space precludes covering all the denial arguments about climate change in detail (there are 160 of them!) though you can find the full list at my co-author's website.

Commonly, deniers cherry pick what evidence they present. One key example is ''global warming stopped in 1998'', picking one particular data source which showed a temporary levelling in air temperatures. It ignored other studies that show temperature is still increasing, and that most of the warming goes into the oceans. Global warming has not in fact gone away.

Another common denial argument is that ''climate has always changed in the past''. For the past 8000 years we have been in a stable climate. Society has never lived through the degree of climate change we are now causing. Bushfires can also be natural yet we don't dismiss the existence of arson. What most deniers conveniently overlook is that Australia is a nation at great risk from climate change. We are the driest inhabited continent in the world. Doing nothing about climate change will end up costing us far more than taking action such as instituting a carbon price.

Why do we let denial prosper? Many things are involved, including fear of change, failure in values, the belief in endless growth, ignorance of ecosystem services, and also the media itself. Researchers note the ''balance as bias'' within the media, where a denier is given equal prominence with all climate scientists. Thus the public could be forgiven for thinking the science is in doubt when it is not, as every academy of science in the world has concluded. The media thus gives deniers prominence as it loves a controversy. It is actually even worse than this, for it is common in Australia for the media to fail to give equal time to scientists.

How do we roll back climate change denial? ''Accept reality!'' is an obvious response. Climate change denial has succeeded because we as a society let it prosper. We let ourselves be deluded by the siren song of denial. When we worry about something, if it makes us afraid, if it clashes with our self-image, then we can move into denial.

However, when denial threatens society and the Earth's ecosystems, it has become not only a delusion, but a dangerous pathology. If we abandon denial, we can both solve climate change and make the world a better place. That, nobody should deny.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 103:

  1. And there are levels of denial and magical thinking - i.e. one might fully accept AGW but deny that it could wipe out civilization. Or ignore the possibility of a Venus Syndrome.

    Most prevalent is the irrational belief that some sort of last minute invention intervention will come to the rescue.

    Wait, isn't that the universal plot conclusion for a Hollywood movie?
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  2. rpauli "... the irrational belief that some sort of last minute invention intervention will come to the rescue."

    This is the "I didn't have time to do it by Monday" homework defence. Yes you did. The assignment was handed out two weeks ago. You put it off day after day 'knowing' that you could always get it done at the last minute.

    Then you had to do a few extra hours at work on Friday night. On Saturday, your mum finally put her foot down and you had to clean your room and mow the lawns. On Sunday, you had to go to grandma's for lunch - which you'd known about for months. And you sprained your ankle playing footie with your little cousins. So you couldn't get it done Sunday night.

    If you'd done it 10 days ago you wouldn't have had to worry about all these things happening at once. But you didn't.

    I'm sure the people who delay climate action are perfectly capable of criticising a foolish procrastinating teenager. But they can't see that their own actions are even more irresponsible.
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  3. rpauli #2 You make a good point.

    When the movie "The Day After Tommorrow" hit the box office some folks warned that it would numb the general public to the dangers of climate change because in the real world the symptoms would creep up slowly rather than present as a series of specatcular disasters.

    I thought the general would not fall for the Hollywood pattern of climate change.

    Sadly, I was wrong.
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  4. paulm @1

    After reading your link I'm inclined to think that both Hansen and the pipeline proponents make valid points regarding ppm values.

    However the article is really just a distraction piece to the greater point that Hansen is making, which is that investment in fossil fuels needs to be ramped down to allow alternatives to ramp up.

    How Obama is going to achieve that in the current environment of overwhelming Republican climate denial is the big question!
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  5. The preponderance of evidence in climate science requires a mitigation response.

    I think the above statement neatly separates the deniers from the realists. It also encourages/reminds/demands that all of us do something meaningful on climate change personally, as well as foment for government action.

    I am convinced that the solution will come from individual actions (which might eventually tip the government action that is required for a total solution).

    The reason almost all cultures have public shaming is because it works. Peer pressure is a very powerful, and mostly ignored, method for overcoming the epidemic of doubt that has swept the land(s).
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  6. Beware of too much theorizing. A large quota of denialists are in fact reasonably normal persons playing games. To most people climate is a boring subject, but the debate offers an arena for inventing insults and being provocative as a hobby, a great fun to many. Some players even reach celebrity status, like Monckton or Plimer. The disturbing thing are those populist politicians who adopt the stupidity of denialism to win votes.
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  7. First, I accept the climate is changing, so I can't be a denier. Only a fool would think the climate is static. I honestly don't know a soul who does not agree that the climte changes on small and large scale time frames.

    Second, I also agree that human activities play a role in climate change. Some of that change has the potential to be beneficial, some has no effect, and some has the potential to be harmful. So, I can't be a denier there, either.

    Now according to AT (and I am not sure who else agrees with him/her), a person is a denier if they do not support an active mitigation response. Now AT has not provided an actual mitigation plan(s), but I would like to hear them.
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  8. apiratelooksat50@7 You can accept that human activities play some role in climate change and still be a denier. All you have to do is be vague about what "some" means (as in "some has the potential to be harmful"). By "some", you might mean "a substantial amount", sufficient to justify efforts at mitigating against the consequences of that anthropogenic climate change. Or you could mean merely that in a mathematical sense our mere existance on the planet must have some effect (in the sense of the butterfly effect). The former clearly isn't denial, whereas the second clearly is. Something that is the hallmark of the denier is a lack of willingness to nail their flag to the mast and say clearly and explicitly what they think our effect on the climate actually is. I am trying to put this as diplomatically as I can, but your post looks very much like a post from a "denier" as you appear to be avoiding nailing your flag to the mast by explicitly stating your opinion on how much we are affecting the climate, and instead gave a rather vague statement that doesn't clarify your position at all (beyond not being outright ridiculous). This is intended as useful feedback on presentation.

    IMHO what makes someone a denier is not actually the position they hold, but their attitude to the evidence that is on conflict with that position (for instance those who are sure climate sensitivity is very low, e.g. 1K/doubling of CO2 or less, when there are multiple lines of evidence that show that is extremely unlikely to be the case).
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  9. 7, apiratelookat50,

    Based on your statements, I would not agree with your conclusion that "I can't be a denier."

    You seem to be creating a black-and-white strawman, where in one is a denier only if they refute every aspect of climate change.

    The state of the science, however, does not say that "human activities play a role in climate change." It says that human activities are causing rapid, dramatic climate change at a pace that the earth has quite possibly never seen, and at a minimum has certainly (and dangerously) never been seen during the span of human civilization.

    The state of the science also does not say "some of that change has the potential to be beneficial, some has no effect, and some..." Current best estimates for climate sensitivity, and the impacts of warming, produce very little long term benefits for humanity, while the dangers are very frightening. So, again, your statement that "I can't be a denier there, either" fails.

    I offered, on the other denial thread, to walk you through some of these misconceptions. You may pick anything at all that you feel you understand, and causes you to hesitate about mitigating climate change.

    We can find a thread that discusses causes (human CO2 as opposed to vague "activities") and how much they "play a role," which seems like a back handed way of saying "not much," versus being the sole, critical driver of extended climate change.

    If you prefer, we can find a thread that discusses the impacts, and whether or not, in the long run, climate change is going to help anyone other than vineyard owners in Scotland (hint, I doubt there are many, or that they're worth much), and how very much it is going to hurt some people... including everyone in the state of Texas.

    Please... you seem like you want to be reasonable, like you want to learn, and like you adamantly do not want to be classified as a denier.

    So don't. Become a skeptic. Instead of expressing your feelings and opinions, come look at facts. Work through the details, so that you don't have an opinion, you have knowledge, and you don't have feelings, you have understanding.

    The door is open. Just walk through by stating a simple, objective (and unloaded) question. We'll find the right thread and get to work.
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  10. There's a very prevalent type of denial that's very common and which raises questions about how the human mind works when under threat. It occurs when people are in debt and they stop opening their bank and credit card statements as they come through the door.

    The fact is these people know this is totally illogical; they know what the letters contain but they are so far in the red that they cannot see a hope of recovery and therefore somehow appear to convince themselves that if they don't read the letters they can carry on as normal. Of course, if you confront people in this mess they'll admit how illogical it is and how ignoring the problem is the worst thing they can do; but the really interesting thing is that this mental state is just as easy to find in the intelligent as it is the stupid. It's something about how the human mind works and I believe it's exactly the same condition as results in climate change denial.

    Worst of all we need to bear in mind that the longer this goes on -- and the more hopeless the prognosis for global climate becomes -- the greater the number of people likely to resort to this state of mind as a defence mechanism. To my mind it's highly likely that this is the reason why the number of people rejecting climate science has increased in recent years.
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  11. It's a very complex situation, very resistant to structuring, categorizing, and defining. One component is visibility. Consider disease. Some diseases express themselves as obvious bodily degeneration involving recurrent or constant pain, tiring, and depression. If the doctor says, "Hey, stop eating this and start eating this, and see what happens," that's easy to accept and perform. With other diseases, that's not so easy. How many lung cancer patients still smoke? How many smokers believe that smoking increases cancer risk massively but continue to smoke anyway?

    That's addiction, though. In the case of AGW, we have cultural momentum. Some will say that not doing anything is a fundamental human flaw. I disagree. My evidence is that different cultures understand their relationship to the environment in different ways, and this results in different cultural practices. Denial may be a human characteristic, but denial of a specific problem is not. It's possible to develop a culture that promotes a more sustainable relationship, and there is historical evidence that such cultures have existed at various times and in many regions. It is not possible to do this when the basic economic mode encourages--no, requires--unlimited economic growth and the dis-integration of a naturally integrated environment into individual-controlled parcels of resources.

    And then take into account the culture that has developed within this mode over the last 150 years. The idea that anyone can become an absolute ruler of his/her own destiny is fundamental to the current mode and its culture. The idea of people coming together to work toward a common goal, sacrificing some part of their own perceived individual freedom for the sake of long-term prosperity, is understood as wrong-headed and dangerous--"altruistic." Finally, and paradoxically, the culture encourages the belief that "if you can't see it, it doesn't matter"--a curious attitude for a culture dominated by religion (at least in the U.S.). People within this culture rarely understand the connection between the product they buy and the history of that product--where the materials came from, who designed it, who made it, how it got to the store, etc. Nor do they understand what happens to it when they sell it or throw it away. The culture encourages (explicitly if not systematically) people to think only about consumption, consumption divorced from production, distribution, and recycling.

    Chalking it up to human nature is just another form of "Oh well, that's life." Understanding the problem as simply cultural, and then saying, "well, we'll just change our culture," is fine, but the culture is going to be resistant unless the primary driver of culture (economy) is addressed.
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  12. Ugh - I posted that blob of text and then found out that Tom Friedman said much the same thing in today's NYT.
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  13. Correction: yesterday's NYT.
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  14. Here's is another form of denial - compartmentalisation, a form of rationalisation to avoid cognitive dissonance.

    Freakonomics have a good article on this with the example of the Challenger disaster. Morton Thiokol engineers told NASA the space shuttle could explode if launched on a cold day. NASA managers took a "management decision" to go ahead - citing the "uncertainty" of the data (where have we heard that before?) about cold launches.

    Challenger Shuttle

    Now, everyone knows the mistakes the engineers made in presenting the data - they could have made a better case. But how often have we heard "It was a military decision" (to order an attack where men died needlessly) or "It was a political decision" (not to support an unpopular but necessary piece of legislation).

    I think Presidient Obama, to take one example, is making a "political decision" not to overtly support climate change legislation, probably calculating that damage to his electoral prospects would be worse for its chances in the long run. But he is avoiding the strong ethical imperative.

    These are not easy decisions. The "military decision" to allow a rearguard get slaughtered so that the army escapes total defeat is (possibly) a correct one. But the calculus is difficult, lends itself to opportunism and all-too-easily gets us off the ethical hook.

    Ethics and policy take place on Cartesian grid where it sometimes impossible to be squarely on the ethical axis. Unfortunately, it often easier to be on the "political advantage" axis at 90 degrees to the ethics.
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  15. John Russell - hey I have been guilty of that form of of denialism. For me it is always - well when I have money I will open those letters/bills (which I do). Thanks for the great insight.

    I think that is why I have a bias towards action - to avoid the overwhelming "problem is too large". Plus once you take a first step (maybe as simple as changing those proverbial lightbulbs) - the next ones are easier - you have psychologically joined the battle I think.

    Apirate that is a partial answer to your question. I laid out mitigation twice in the last thread - no response from you. I don't see the value of cluttering up another thread, only to see you ignore the responses again.
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  16. 14, Shoyemore,

    Good post.

    I couldn't find one perfect for your Cartesian grid, but still:

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  17. FYI, in the above graph you could just as easily substitute the words "political expedience" for "cowardice," and either "ethical need" or "selfless commitment" for "honesty."
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  18. Many AVOID the issue because it means a change to their/our whole life concept, style and comfort.... take for instant cutting back on all unnecessary emissions like most flying...
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  19. Paulm - how do we communicate that there is a world of good to do prior to ending/reducing/changing flying? If everyone would address non-travel CO2 in the next 20-30 years, we would buy ourselves time to figure out travel (which can actually be handled easier than most deniers are willing to acknowledge). See the US military's work on biofuel (one of many, many examples).

    Note that I am all for individuals taking action, and if the action that makes sense to you is curtailing flying - that is strictly to the good and a very effective personal action to limit CO2. It is also generalizable (it would still be good if everyone did it).

    The immediate required reduction can all be achieved through picking the low hanging fruit - solar heating/cooling, conservation, solar PV, no new coal plants, more efficient vehicles, wind, etc.

    Let's worry about how we get to the next stage when we are at least well on our way through the first stage. Right now we are faced with a population that doesn't want to take the first (or any) step.

    Apirate I am lookin' at you (said with a smile).
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  20. AT,
    The realization of what a warmer world means based on our emissions becomes a moral issue.

    Once one realizes that emissions are causing deaths and will cause the disruption of our kids then decisions become much more straightforward. This is why it is important to convey to dire effects accurately and honestly to the public.

    Its the personal connection and realization of the consequences of our actions that mold our behavior in a moral world.
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  21. Paulm - no disagreement here.

    I just take every chance I get to urge people to take personal, visible action to fight climate change.

    Peer pressure/shame is probably the only effective lever we have to affect the conversation/attitude of humanity. As many people point out sarcastically, people are sheep. Let's herd them (by our actions) towards climate change avoiding behaviors.

    We can keep the fact that they are saving money, saving resources and saving the earth as a happy place for humans to ourselves.

    Actions do in fact speak louder than words.
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  22. @Sphaerica #9:

    Kudos on your response to apiratelooksat50. Having conversed with him a couple of years ago on commnet threads to articles posted in a local newspaper, I was curious to see if he would respond to your invitation to continue a dialogue. The fact that he has not done so, does not surprise me. He is a classic example of the "Mr. nice guy" denier persona.
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    [DB] We will judge people fairly, based on their bahavior displayed here, not in other venues.

  23. Badger @ 22
    Give me a chance, please.

    Sphaerica @ 9
    Thank you for being reasonable and please excuse me for being brief, but we are in the last day of high school and I am swamped.

    Seriously, let's open a dialogue on CO2 and the human component. This email here is anonymous for me, but I would love to converse with you outside the bounds of this site. I would like to discuss with you privately my reservations. Once I feel I can establish trust with you, I will even supply my consulting company's website address.

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  24. @apiratelooksat50 #23:

    As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Afterall, I am probably responsible for you being here because of the plethora of SkS articles I referred you to.
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  25. 23, apiratelooksat50,

    Sounds good. I will e-mail you later.
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  26. I am not sure of the claim "Another common denial argument is that ''climate has always changed in the past''. For the past 8000 years we have been in a stable climate. Society has never lived through the degree of climate change we are now causing."

    Is the 8000 years of stable climate a valid claim based upon availabl evidence?

    "Based on the paleoclimate record from ice and ocean cores, the last warm period in the Arctic peaked about 8,000 years ago, during the so-called Holocene Thermal Maximum. A recent study suggests that 5,500 years ago, the Arctic had substantially less summertime sea ice than today. However, it is not clear that the Arctic was completely free of summertime sea ice during this time."

    Above quote from
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    [DB] You do realize that your comment basically validates this entire post?

  27. DB about denial and the psychological forces that drive it?

    I am questioning a particular point the author made, the 8000 years of stable climate and now we threaten it with relaease of carbon dioxide via industry.
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    [DB] The available evidence does indeed indicate a stable climate for the past 8,000 years:

    Sweet Spot

    Perhaps in a few decades we can update this graph with an arrow and an accompanying legend which says "Agriculture ends".

  28. All,

    This video perfectly demonstrates denial at work.

    Now the video is funny, but what it says about we humans is extremely sad.

    The Anthropocene is not going to end well for many of us, largely because of the consequences arising from the problem highlighted in this video.
    [H/T to Bernard J. @103 at Deltoid]
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  29. #27 - also worth noting the quasi-log scale of the graph DB shows you - the right-hand side of the graph details changes much more rapid than the left-hand side of the graph. I recall seeing a similar graph without the scale adjustment and it's even scarier, because 21st Century climate appears as an almost vertical line on a 20,000 year scale.

    I hope DB's wrong about the update to the graph.
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  30. DB response to post 28.

    The only thing that the evidence supports is a relatively stable temperature for the last 8000 years but not a stable climate. Climate is not just temperature but also rain patterns. I did post some other links but they were deleted. I can try again to prove this point.

    Climate change destroyed Mayan civilization.

    Sahara was not always dry.

    Here are two links to drastic climate changes. I am sure there are many more. The one I posted above indicates the Arctic was warmer 5500 years ago than today as the summer ice was almost completely gone and we still have a good chunk left in September even if it is less than in the 70's.
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    [DB] Actually, evidence indicates that the world now is as warm as the peak of the Holocene Climate Optimum with yet more warming in the pipeline.  Other evidence strongly suggests the demise of Arctic summer sea ice within 20 years, with the system proceeding to a year-yound no-ice solution in the decade following that. Yet other evidence suggests the rate of warming now is at least 10 times greater than that experienced during the PETM.

    And there are many more converging indicators all pointing to the same conclusion:  the world is warming due to our activities and there seems to be little we are willing to do about it.

    But there's no problem, right?

  31. I am currently reading Paul Gilding's 'The Great Disruption' - about Climate Change and all the other upheavalswe face and how he thinks we will and won't deal with it.

    He uses an interesting phrase for a stage in this process - "Denial Breaking Down'. Not outright denial, but a sort of modulated, reducing denial in the face of the evidence.

    He is not just referring to the denial retreat from 'It Ain't' so to 'It is So but Climate Sensitivity is Low' stance. He also describes the 'its real, its happening, but it won't be THAT Bad' variety. 'We don't have to do THAT much to deal with it' variety. 'We still have time' variety. 'We ARE doing something about it' variety. 'Sure we have to deal with climate change but we still have to have GROWTH you know' variety.

    Until we get to the 'Shit this is BAD - PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS' we are all still in some sort of Denial.
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  32. apiratelooksat50, Sphaerica

    I have corresponded with APLA50 in the past. If you guys would like a 3rd party in this conversation for some balance my email is
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  33. Yes Norman,
    Most research suggests that temperatures were warmer during the Holocene Climate Optimum (hence the name). During this period Arctic sea ice and mountain glaciers were in rapid decline. Some may have reached a minimum during this time, others during the Roman Warm period, some during the Medieval Warm period, and still others today (all warm periods on the graph). This graphic by Hanspeter Holzhauser shows changes in the Great Aletsch Glacier in recent times which mimics the previous graphic (reverse axis of course).
    Some of the past changes in climate may be tied to temperature changes, other may not. The drying of the Sahara, which lead to the rise of the Egypian Empire, occurred during the cooling after the Holocene Optimum. The Mayans may have succumbed to a recurring drought combined with other factors. Other civilizations may have suffered similar fates (Anasazi).
    On a microcosm, the climate is not very stable. However, in the broader spectrum, the climate has been relatively stable for almost 10,000 years.
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  34. The "skeptics" here continue to create and then argue a strawman concerning the Holocene climate or concerning climate pasts.

    I find it ironic that they are willing to grasp onto the meme that "Climate has changed before and been warmer before" while completely missing the point and completely missing about where we are heading. That is just another form of denial folks. To add to Daniel's informative figure @27:


    Also, I find it odd that some "skeptics" are of the belief that paleo data are of little use, but then use (or abuse) those same data to (incorrectly) reinforce their preconceived ideas and misguided ideas.

    Finally, a lot has changed since the peak warmth of the Holocence, the planet is now home to 7 billion people, and by the time we have doubled or tripled CO2 there could be more than 10 billion people on the planet.
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  35. Eric the Red wrote : "This graphic by Hanspeter Holzhauser shows changes in the Great Aletsch Glacier in recent times which mimics the previous graphic (reverse axis of course)."

    What "previous graphic" are you referring to, and why do you rely on graphics from a dodgy site like CO2SCIENCE(sic) ?
    Doesn't it bother you that they have added a yellow bar alluding to what they want you to see as the MWP, when the original graphic (from the paper) shows a later Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) ?

    And what about that bump during that warmer time-period ("from around AD 800 to the onset of the LIA around AD 1300") that "was interrupted by two weak advances in the ninth (not certain because based only on radiocarbon dating) and the twelfth centuries AD (around AD 1100)" ? Is that happening now ?

    And what about the conlusion that "the residual 14C records supports the hypothesis that variations in solar activity were a major forcing factor of climatic oscillations in west-central Europe during the late Holocene" ? Is that occurring now ?
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  36. JMurphy,
    The site of the graphic does not concern me, since the only change was the added yellow bar, which does not change the data on the graph (I was unaware of the site, just looking for a link to the graph). The previous graphic references was the temperature plot in #27. Also, several different dates have been listed for the Medieval Warm Period, so I will not get bogged down with specific differences. The "bump" is uncertain, hence it is not filled in like the remainder of the graph. The decline from the 7th century to the 8th looks similar to what has happened in the past century. There is no "bump" currently, so if the "bump" was real, then it is not happening now. If it was not real, then it is happening now.
    I have no reason to dispute the paper's conclusions, as it is supported by the data. I cannot say if the same thing is occurring now.
    The intent was to show data comparing recent temperatures to those of past times.
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  37. apiratelooksat50, what evidence do you have that shows (to your satisfaction) what is actually changing the climate now ? Does this evidence provide figures that everyone else can look at ?

    Can you also provide the evidence for the potential benefits ?
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  38. Eric the Red, I can't understand why you didn't link to the paper which actually created the graph rather than a version of it shown by CO2SCIENCE ? It can't have been difficult to find.
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  39. Stay calm. Do not think. Do not adjust to reality - reality must adjust to you. Then you too can be a denier:


    H/T to Coby Beck and Tom Curtis (whom I shamelessly and brazenly quoted/stole this from)
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  40. 32, Glenn,

    Thanks for the offer. I'll keep it in mind, but for now I'd like to keep it between Pirate and I, to keep it focused, casual and non-confrontational (i.e. collaborative, rather than combative).
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  41. 39, Daniel,

    That was awesome. It should be a post, not a comment.
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  42. Albatross at 14:42 PM on 9 June, 2011

    That Monty Python scene springs to my mind often too.
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  43. Daniel Bailey - great video and Bill McKibben do great work.
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  44. DB are you the monitor for this thread? I did reread the comments policy and do not see why my two deleted posts were found lacking.
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    [DB] This thread is an examination of denial and the psychological forces that drive it (as you have previously acknowledged in your comment at 27 above).

    Your first deleted comment was a Gish Gallop on various weather anomalies, which is far outside of the scope of this thread, as you well know.

    Your second deleted comment was nothing more than a complaint about moderation.

    Please do try and consider the topic of the threads you are placing comments on and ensure your comments are in compliance with the Comments Policy which you have read and are also on-topic.

  45. Norman,

    Before you whine too much, this is a science site. As you will note many posters direct readers to peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals or articles written by reputable scientists or statisticians-- not political blogs like WUWT or NIPCC, or some obscure blog.

    If you want to discuss extremes and your belief that they are not on the uptake, then on the appropriate thread on extremes point people to the reputable, peer-reviewed literature that supports your case.

    Using the argument that we have nothing to worry about b/c in 18blah there was a monumental storm somewhere is just another form of denying the reality of what the data and best science are telling us. It is also offensive because climate scientists are, of course, very well aware of that severe weather events have occurred in the past. Finally, your reasoning also misses the point entirely, AGW is very much about how we decide to define where we are heading down the road because of how much CO2 we elect to pump into the atmosphere. There is no denying that.
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  46. DB and Albatross,

    Thanks for the explanation. But in the issue of denial as related to DB video, my point was that if you took all the extreme weather of a particualar year, say 1954, could you create a similar video about how extreme things are?

    Albatross, this thread is asking why so many doubt AGW's dire predictions. By bringing up historical data it may help to explain this. Climate scientists may be well aware of severe weather events of the past but the creator of the DB video link may not be so fully aware.
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  47. OK Norman, @ 46, of the top of your head list the natural disasters of 1954. And also note how many of them where record breaking and near record breaking events.

    The reason I ask you for the list of the top of your head is that, unless this sort of information is common knowledge, so that it can reasonably be listed "of the top of your head", then it is not relevant as to why people are deniers. If you can't list the events of the top of your head, but think there have been two years comparable to 2010 and 2011 (todate) for natural disasters, by all means discuss those years, but under a more appropriate topic.
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  48. Tom,
    Those of us who grew up in Michigan are well aware of the devasting Flint tornado of 1954 to which the recent Joplon tornado is compared.
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  49. Eric the Red Tom said "of the top of your head list the natural disasters of 1954" (emphasis mine). If you can only remember the one tornado, then then your answer is not very complete and you have illustrated Tom's point quite neatly.
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  50. Dikran,
    Maybe, but how many natural disasters can you name from 1998? That is only 13 years ago, and occurrances do not come to my mind rapidly. Yes, I can remember the earthquakes from the past few years, the tsunami in Indonesia, and hurricane Katrina. However, before that, everything becomes a little bit fuzzier. I can remember the names of major hurricanes and areas that were hit by floods, earthquakes, and other disasters, but I cannot tell you when they occurred. In fact, had he picked any other year in the decade of the 50s, I probably could not identify a particular disaster. The "top of your head" only works well for recent memory, or for those events that yield a lasting impression on an individual (I am sure all the residents of New Orleans will remember the year that Katrina hit, long past the time that the rest of us forget).
    Off the top of your head, name a disaster from 2007.
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