Climate

National Post shocker: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause

too many of us treat science as subjective “” something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.

In the case of global warming, this dissonance is especially traumatic for many conservatives, because they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism “” and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture it has spawned “” is synonymous with both personal fulfillment and human advancement. The global-warming hypothesis challenges that fundamental dogma, perhaps fatally.

Canada’s conservative National Post has long published anti-science disinformation, as Deep Climate has catalogued and debunked.

But comments editor and Post columnist Jonathan Kay has just published a thermonuclear repudiation of “Global-warming deniers” (his term).  And Kay is no liberal — his bio says he is “a regular contributor to Commentary magazine and the New York Post“!
The column deserves to be read in full:

Have you heard about the “growing number” of eminent scientists who reject the theory that man-made greenhouse gases are increasing the earth’s temperature? It’s one of those factoids that, for years, has been casually dropped into the opening paragraphs of conservative manifestos against climate-change treaties and legislation. A web site maintained by the office of a U.S. Senator has for years instructed us that a “growing number of scientists” are becoming climate-change “skeptics.” This year, the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation gave a speech praising the “growing number of distinguished scientists [who are] challenging the conventional wisdom with alternative theories and peer reviewed research.” In this newspaper, a columnist recently described the “growing skepticism about the theory of man-made climate change.” Surely, the conventional wisdom is on the cusp of being overthrown entirely: Another colleague proclaimed that we are approaching “the church of global warming’s Galileo moment.”

Fine-sounding rhetoric “” but all of it nonsense. In a new article published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, a group of scholars from Stanford University, the University of Toronto and elsewhere provide a statistical breakdown of the opinions of the world’s most prominent climate experts. Their conclusion: The group that is skeptical of the evidence of man-made global warming “comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers in the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups “¦ This result closely agrees with expert surveys, indicating that [about] 97% of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of [man-made global warming].”

For background on the PNAS study, see “New study reaffirms broad scientific understanding of climate change, questions media’s reliance on tiny group of less-credibile scientists for “balance”

How has this tiny 2-3% sliver of fringe opinion been reinvented as a perpetually “growing” share of the scientific community? Most climate-change deniers (or “skeptics,” or whatever term one prefers) tend to inhabit militantly right-wing blogs and other Internet echo chambers populated entirely by other deniers. In these electronic enclaves “” where a smattering of citations to legitimate scientific authorities typically is larded up with heaps of add-on commentary from pundits, economists and YouTube jesters who haven’t any formal training in climate sciences “” it becomes easy to swallow the fallacy that the whole world, including the respected scientific community, is jumping on the denier bandwagon.

Hmm.  Who could he be talking about?  (see Peak readership for anti-science blogs?)

This is a phenomenon that should worry not only environmentalists, but also conservatives themselves: The conviction that global warming is some sort of giant intellectual fraud now has become a leading bullet point within mainstream North American conservatism; and so has come to bathe the whole movement in its increasingly crankish, conspiratorial glow.

Conservatives often pride themselves on their hard-headed approach to public-policy “” in contradistinction to liberals, who generally are typecast as fuzzy-headed utopians. Yet when it comes to climate change, many conservatives I know will assign credibility to any stray piece of junk science that lands in their inbox “¦ so long as it happens to support their own desired conclusion. (One conservative columnist I know formed her skeptical views on global warming based on testimonials she heard from novelist Michael Crichton.) The result is farcical: Impressionable conservatives who lack the numeracy skills to perform long division or balance their checkbooks feel entitled to spew elaborate proofs purporting to demonstrate how global warming is in fact caused by sunspots or flatulent farm animals. Or they will go on at great length about how “climategate” has exposed the whole global-warming phenomenon as a charade “” despite the fact that a subsequent investigation exculpated research investigators from the charge that they had suppressed temperature data. (In fact, “climategate” was overhyped from the beginning, since the scientific community always had other historical temperature data sets at its disposal “” that maintained by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, most notably “” entirely independent of the Climactic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where the controversy emerged.)

Let me be clear: Climate-change denialism does not comprise a conspiracy theory, per se: Those aforementioned 2% of eminent scientists prove as much. I personally know several denialists whom I generally consider to be intelligent and thoughtful. But the most militant denialists do share with conspiracists many of the same habits of mind. Oxford University scholar Steve Clarke and Brian Keeley of Washington University have defined conspiracy theories as those worldviews that trace important events to a secretive, nefarious cabal; and whose proponents consistently respond to contrary facts not by modifying their hypothesis, but instead by insisting on the existence of ever-wider circles of high-level conspirators controlling most or all parts of society. This describes, more or less, how radicalized warming deniers treat the subject of their obsession: They see global warming as a Luddite plot hatched by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Al Gore to destroy industrial society. And whenever some politician, celebrity or international organization expresses support for the all-but-unanimous view of the world’s scientific community, they inevitably will respond with a variation of “Ah, so they’ve gotten to them, too.”

In support of this paranoid approach, the denialists typically will rely on stray bits of discordant information “” an incorrect reference in a UN report, a suspicious-seeming “climategate” email, some hypocrisy or other from a bien-pensant NGO type “” to argue that the whole theory is an intellectual house of cards. In these cases, one can’t help but be reminded of the folks who point out the fluttering American flag in the moon-landing photos, or the “umbrella man” from the Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination.

In part, blame for all this lies with the Internet, whose blog-from-the-hip ethos has convinced legions of pundits that their view on highly technical matters counts as much as peer-reviewed scientific literature. But there is something deeper at play, too “” a basic psychological instinct that public-policy scholars refer to as the “cultural cognition thesis,” described in a recently published academic paper as the observed principle that “individuals tend to form perceptions of risk that reflect and reinforce one or another idealized vision of how society should be organized “¦ Thus, generally speaking, persons who subscribe to individualistic values tend to dismiss claims of environmental risks, because acceptance of such claims implies the need to regulate markets, commerce and other outlets for individual strivings.”

In simpler words, too many of us treat science as subjective “” something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.

In the case of global warming, this dissonance is especially traumatic for many conservatives, because they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism “” and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture it has spawned “” is synonymous with both personal fulfillment and human advancement. The global-warming hypothesis challenges that fundamental dogma, perhaps fatally.

Precisely — see The real reason conservatives don’t believe in climate science.

The appropriate intellectual response to that challenge “” finding a way to balance human consumption with responsible environmental stewardship “” is complicated and difficult. It will require developing new technologies, balancing carbon-abatement programs against other (more cost-effective) life-saving projects such as disease-prevention, and “” yes “” possibly increasing the economic cost of carbon-fuel usage through some form of direct or indirect taxation. It is one of the most important debates of our time. Yet many conservatives have made themselves irrelevant in it by simply cupping their hands over their ears and screaming out imprecations against Al Gore.

Rants and slogans may help conservatives deal with the emotional problem of cognitive dissonance. But they aren’t the building blocks of a serious ideological movement. And the impulse toward denialism must be fought if conservatism is to prosper in a century when environmental issues will assume an ever greater profile on this increasingly hot, parched, crowded planet. Otherwise, the movement will come to be defined “” and discredited “” by its noisiest cranks and conspiracists.

I hope some U.S. conservatives take this to heart — but I doubt it.

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45 Responses to National Post shocker: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause

  1. paulm says:

    Yep, the tides turning.

    Now if we can just get the Tar Sands ramped down and coal plants shut.

  2. TomG says:

    If I had not saw National Post on top of the site I would not have believed it.
    Not that I distrust Climate Progress…it’s just something I had to see for myself.
    A crack of light in an unlikely place.
    A warning though, put down any liquid beverage if you stray into the comment section…yikes!

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    You can generate much more return of investment with renewable energy. Because the energy source never runs out – so you just need to maintain deployed devices and update from time to time. Plus you will have less environment pollution, which helps to stabilize and prosper the consumer level – the customer of energy. Plus you have less health issues from air pollution.

    Easy accessible deposits run out and without heavy subsidies a gallon of dirty oil would cost 10,00$.

    Every week the big energy companies wait to invest into renewable, they lose. Fossil energy leads to degeneration of civilization.

  4. paulm says:

    International “Stop the Tar Sands!” Day today!
    http://stoptarsands.yolasite.com/

    BTW its also National Parks Day here in Canada…
    http://www.parksday.ca/eng/index.html

  5. Esop says:

    Wow.
    Something is definitely happening. The Guardian has been hammering the deniers lately, but what a nice surprise to see that no less than The National Post has joined in. There is little doubt that the extreme weather events (as predicted by AGW theory and made more severe by human caused warming) around the world these days are causing a number of people to finally get their heads out of the sand.

  6. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe quoted Kay: “… they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism — and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture it has spawned — is synonymous with both personal fulfillment and human advancement.”

    Actually their “worldview” has a more obvious fallacy, which is to equate the profits of the fossil fuel corporations with “capitalism”.

    It’s pretty obvious that a renewable-energy based “culture” can, and in the USA almost certainly will be, every bit as “capitalistic” as the “asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture” that the fossil fuel industry — and not “capitalism” as an economic system — has “spawned”. After all, General Electric, Intel and Google — not to mention Solyndra, Nanosolar, Tesla et al — are all “capitalist” enterprises, and they are all hoping to profit handsomely from the transition to a clean-energy economy.

    Of course the business model of selling the technology for harvesting abundant, ubiquitous, free wind and solar energy is quite different from the business model of extracting, processing and selling limited, scarce and costly fuel, and the “giant energy corporations” of the future will not be in the business of selling fuel, but the business of selling technology.

    And the capitalistic benefits of energy production will be accordingly decentralized to everyone — homeowners, farmers, factories, warehouses, shopping malls, parking lots, etc. — who can park some solar panels in the sun somewhere. Indeed,the renewable energy economy of the future could be a golden age of grassroots capitalism.

    I think this just goes to show the extent to which the so-called “conservative movement” is manufactured by corporate propaganda. It is a corporate-sponsored, Madison Avenue-scripted, talk-radio-programmed pseudo-ideology, spoon-fed to the brainwashed Ditto-Head / Tea Party “cult for hire” by bought-and-paid-for corporate stooges like Rush Limbaugh.

    “Conservatives” have been relentlessly programmed with ExxonMobil’s talking points — e.g. that any effort to speed the inevitable transition from fossil fuels to other sources of energy is an attack on “capitalism” — and it is the fundamental nature of the so-called “conservative” cult to slavishly believe, say and do whatever they are told to believe, say and do by the phony “conservative” media.

  7. The comment thread at the National Post is, uh, interesting. Many seemed unwittingly compelled to prove Kay’s points!

    While those comments remind us we still have a long way to go – and that some part of the population may be beyond reaching – I think that commentary from Kay is reaching the reachables… There were also a lot of brief expressions of support…

  8. Jeff Huggins says:

    There is no doubt: I have had several conversations — some of them quite long — with folks who would rather believe Donald Duck, if he were to deny climate science, than to even begin to consider the idea that there will need to be some sensible regulation or other public intervention in order to address the global warming problem.

    It is crystal clear that some people place a narrow ideological paradigm above reality itself. Their identity, apparently, is wrapped up with an idea that works to some degree but is wholly inadequate, and indeed dangerous, in some degrees and some situations.

    How can one tell this? It’s easy, really, unless someone cuts conversation short after ten minutes. But, if someone is at least willing to engage in discussion, then some signs are these: The person will often be entirely unmoved even after seeing the lists of all the bona fide scientific organizations who tell us climate change is real, and after reading some of their position statements. The person will insist on disagreement with the scientifically understood causal mechanisms of climate change without even understanding them and without being able to present a coherent argument against them. And, then, the person will turn the conversation to ideological matters . . . statements about “freedom” and government incompetence and the (apparent) view that we would do well to trust our futures to ExxonMobil Board members. Some of these folks get most passionate and verbal, and eager to argue, when they turn the conversation to political and ideological grounds. Then, when you say, “I thought we were talking about the science and about climate change itself?”, they often act surprised at first, for a split second, and then allow the conversation to go back — temporarily — to that topic. Soon, they begin to react again on ideological grounds.

    I’ve seen it first-hand — many more times than once. But, I can never quite get a feeling for whether such folks understand that this is what they are doing. If some of them could watch a video of themselves in such discussions, could they see that they are placing ideological ideas above reality itself, changing the subject from the latter to the former whenever they get uncomfortable with the latter? With some of them, I doubt it.

    Sigh,

    Jeff

  9. Steve Bloom says:

    Jeff, the thing with cognitive dissonance is that those caught up in it don’t realize it. The moment they begin consciously perceiving the contradiction is the moment it begins to go away.

    We should also bear in mind that the those with cognitive dissonance are the foot soldiers of the denier movement, not its leadership. The latter are people who are well aware of the facts but have chosen to act inconsistent with them.

  10. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Research Idea

    In writing my earlier comment (Comment 8, unless the numbers change), I had an idea for an interesting research project (although this may have already been done?).

    Some top psychologists and sociologists ought to do a large-scale, quantitative and qualitative, research project, part of which would involve filming a wide and statistically substantial sample of discussions about climate change. In other words, film (as if a fly on the wall) discussions between Person A and Person B, Person C and Person D, and so forth. Then, analyze the details and trajectories of the discussions. That would be quite fascinating.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  11. Joe1347 says:

    Regarding that statement that 2 to 3% of Climate Scientists don’t agree with the other 97% that Global Warming is real. Does anyone have any more insight into this 3% denier scientific community? For example, are they out right climate change deniers in the vein of “lord” Monckton – or are most of the 3% not true climate change deniers and are simply holding off their final judgement pending additional some sort of additional scientific study? What some might consider being overly cautious – while they themselves think that they are just applying the appropriate scientific rigor. Or is it something else entirely?

  12. José Matias says:

    Unfortunately, the tide will turn definitely in USA only with a global warming Pearl Harbour moment.

  13. Chris Winter says:

    Sukat, his eyes uncovered!

    Or, in plain English, congratulations to Jonathan Kay for telling it like it is.

  14. villabolo says:

    SecularAnimist

    With reference to #6, that is an excellent post.

    I left for about an hour in the middle of reading it and when I got back, though I still remembered the previous content, I forgot that I was on Climate Progress. I actually thought I was reading some other website’s main article!

  15. Anna Haynes says:

    re Tom’s “If I had not saw National Post on top of the site I would not have believed it. Not that I distrust Climate Progress…”

    Tom, your reactions were right – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    over & out –
    http://paulgraham.com/selfindulgence.html

  16. Bob Wright says:

    Suppose Petraeus pulls off Afghanistan. Suppose the GOP in its quest for an unsullied neo-con front man decides to run with a real “hero”, instead of losers like Dubya and Palin. Suppose newly elected President Petraeus reviews global warming with the pros at NOAA, NASA and EPA, and concludes its time to cut through the denier BS and get to work. Would be interesting.

  17. Bob Lang says:

    Too bad hardly anybody reads newspapers anymore.

    Newspaper Companies and newsprint makers have been the worst performing sectors on Wallstreet for at least 10 years.

  18. villabolo says:

    José Matias says:
    July 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Unfortunately, the tide will turn definitely in USA only with a global warming Pearl Harbour moment.
    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    That moment, in theory at least, should be the ice cap meltdown and exposure of the Arctic Sea in the summer. That would be the point at which the weather patterns would be quickly altered to our detriment.

    It may be the point at which there’s a turn around but only if the Oil Companies are asleep.

    Unfortunately, the Oil Companies and their propaganda shills will simply alter the ‘narrative’.

    Their new set of falsehoods would include an emphasis on “Natural Global Warming”, in order to deflect responsibility away from Humanity and thus ensure their future profits.

    If things really get bad, rest assured that the Oil Companies, through their ventriloquist dummies and Media sounding boards, will stuff “Geo-engineering” down everyone’s throat. This way they could keep emitting forever.

  19. I read Janathan Kay via the WUWT’s denoucement of the article. It was quite entertaining to see the conservatives on the National Post and WUWT re-commit all the same mistakes that Jonathan Kay was specifically telling them to avoid.

    The global warming “skeptics” (who are not at all skeptical about the shoddy misrepresentation of science by His Lordship Monckton, etc.) suffer from a severe case of cognitive dissonance.

    On the one hand they concede that the globe is warming and then immediately follow it by claiming that the globe is not warming. On the one hand they concede that the Arctic ice cap will melt away in the 21st century and then they deny that it is melting. On the one hand the claim that the polar bears can survive in an ice-free Arctic and then they say that no one should care if the polar bears go extinct.

    They become upset and extremely defensive when anyone points out that His Lordship Monckton gave an entire presentation filled with misrepresentation, outdated information and pure bunk but any time NASA, etc. reports that the world is setting a new record for warmth they immediately dismiss the evidence as fraudulent and faulty and nearly all the world’s climate scientists are likewise dismissed because they are engaged in a collective conspiracy to take away their Western consumerism and techno-toys.

    Yet when a conservative points out the absurdity of this claim of a global collective scientific conspiracy they insist that they aren’t making that claim … and then they again claim that it is a conspiracy!

    To read the comments on the National Post, WUWT and Wall Street Journal is to enter a house of mirrors where the rules of logic and rationality are suspended.

  20. Joe Bftsplk says:

    The same issue of the National Post had the usual moronic claptrap, i.e. by Terence Corcoran who wrote that the Schnieder, et. al, “PNAS study” you refer to is “a laughable bit of prime junk science”.

    As for Jonathon Kay, Corcoran’s fellow employee at the National Post who is the author of the opinion piece: “Bad Science: Global warming deniers are a liability to the Conservative cause”, Corcoran writes this: “So now we have Mr. Kay bouncing on the diving board, heading for an empty pool”

    Corcoran is the editor of the Financial Post section of the National Post. He has been dumping on any and all proposals to do the slightest thing about climate change for more than twenty years.

    The publication he works for, i.e. the National Post, was started by Conrad Black, presently in jail in the US for running what the Canadian press called a “corporate kleptocracy”, i.e. he was convicted of illegally diverting funds from his newspaper empire for his own use. He apparently used to throw the best parties in London.

  21. Al says:

    Ross Gelbspan wrote recently, in

    http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?id=7743&method=full

    ‘A few years ago I asked a top editor at CNN why, given the increasing proportion of news budgets dedicated to extreme weather, they did not make this connection. He told me, “We did. Once.” ‘

    If other news organizations are in the same boat, i.e. afraid to speak out, how can they be persuaded to concurrently publish articles like this? There’s safety in numbers.

  22. Mark says:

    secular animist.

    Thanks for your outstanding analysis/summary.

    “Actually their “worldview” has a more obvious fallacy, which is to equate the profits of the fossil fuel corporations with “capitalism””

    “Conservatives” have been relentlessly programmed with ExxonMobil’s talking points — e.g. that any effort to speed the inevitable transition from fossil fuels to other sources of energy is an attack on “capitalism” — and it is the fundamental nature of the so-called “conservative” cult to slavishly believe, say and do whatever they are told to believe, say and do by the phony “conservative” media.

    wish I had said that.

  23. David says:

    Pretty good article — but I’d go even further and say that not only is it a liability, it’s political suicide over the long-run. Because the bottom line is that the problem isn’t going away anytime soon unless we take action right now. I don’t know how history will judge people like His Lordship, but it’s obviously going to be unfavorably. I don’t really know if there’s a historical analog to the “skeptic” movement. I could see likening it to Neville Chamberlain — but they’re not only are in support of not doing anything about the problem, they’re also actively impeding anything getting done about it.

    Apparently they truly believe global warming isn’t a problem, because otherwise they would be aware of the suicidal path they’re on. I’m always kind of shocked by some of the arguments I see the skeptics throw out — especially the ones who acknowledge that man is changing the climate, but still insist that we should continue unfettered use of fossil fuels. How can somebody adopt such a cavalier attitude towards the issue?

  24. villabolo says:

    “The global warming “skeptics” (who are not at all skeptical about the shoddy misrepresentation of science by His Lordship Monckton, etc.) suffer from a severe case of cognitive dissonance.”
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Speaking of cognitive dissonance here’s one calling those who believe in Man Made Global Warming “cockroaches” . . .
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/author/wattsupwiththat/

    . . .and then pretend it was just a “metaphor”.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/15/comment-of-the-week/#comment-431338

  25. Tim L. says:

    Sorry climate disinformationists. Our karma just ran over your dogma!

  26. Hey Joe,
    Have you read some of Bob Altemeyers book on Authoritarians. I have found it fascinating and it explains very well why people in the heritage institute are so inoculated against scientific facts.

    Not sure if a link is allowed, but if not, save it before you delete it. I think his research would make a great blog post. Heard about this guy watching a youtube video of a talk by John Dean.

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  27. catman306 says:

    Someone needs to write a book

    “Logic for Dummies”

    using examples from Republican and conservative websites.

    Global warming deniers are a threat to all living things including conservatives.

  28. with the doves says:

    Conservatives often pride themselves on their hard-headed approach to public-policy — in contradistinction to liberals, who generally are typecast as fuzzy-headed utopians

    Jonathan Kay is living in the past by about 40 years – today’s conservatives are blissfully unfettered by fact.

    And it’s all the internet’s fault. No, it’s the fault of Conservative leaders who will say any damn thing to gain and keep power, and who cozy up to preachers and gullible folks. This anti-science thing was evident prior to the web.

  29. ozajh says:

    with the doves #29,

    Jonathan Kay is living in the past by about 40 years

    His article brings to mind the devastating critique of ‘Atlas Shrugged’, written by the very conservative Whittaker Chambers in the National Review back in the 1950’s.

  30. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    In decades of watching the press I’ve seen nothing like this forensic and implacable attack on denialism – from its highly vulnerable right flank.

    Made my week.

    On the offchance it ain’t already happening, might I suggest a swarm of grassroots efforts to get the article re-published as widely and as prominently as possible in the coming days and weeks ?

    For instance, does the Senate have an in-house journal like the UK parliament ?

    That WashPost journalist who wrote a better peice recently – might he conceivably help to get this one placed ? – It offers an excellect new ‘balance’ after all –

    In terms of reaching a wider readership, aren’t there state-focussed broadsheets across the country that might be worth trying ? I think the rarity of the article’s perspective could make it far easier to get it placed in them than any fine pro-action article.

    In terms of recruitment of more campaigners, getting it into student magazines could be really helpful as it’s coming from an entirely novel messenger with a vital and accurate message.

    Various efforts under way this side of the pond.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  31. llewelly says:

    ozajh July 18, 2010 at 1:31 am:

    His article brings to mind the devastating critique of ‘Atlas Shrugged’, written by the very conservative Whittaker Chambers in the National Review back in the 1950’s.

    A superb critique, which entirely failed to prevent Atlas Shrugged from becoming a big hit with the following generations of conservatives and their fellow travelers.

  32. peter whitehead says:

    the UK chief scientist called the something like “bar-room sceptics” recently. THe scientific community needs to get hold of media people – remember industry has a lot of money to spend on wining/dining them. Simple tidy media packages given out at an event sponsored by someone with a bit to spend would help.

  33. ChrisD says:

    I see that the commenters at the Post are none too pleased with this. What a shock.

  34. Christopher Monckton and other deniers get far more press coverage than they deserve. Journalistic false balance has caused the public to be confused on climate change – the greatest threat to humanity this century. Worse, these deniers have used mainstream media to attack climate science and the scientists who pursue the truth. Let us now turn the tables.

    Monckton has been exposed by Dr. John Abraham and instead of hiding his tail and whimpering away, Monckton has gone on the offensive by attacking Dr. Abraham and asking his followers to essentially “email bomb” Dr. Abraham’s university president. We need to alert the media to this story.

    I have assembled a list of 57 media contacts in the hopes that my readers will follow my lead and send letters asking for an investigation of Monckton and his attack on Abraham. I have placed mailto links that will make it easy to send letters to several contacts at once with a single click.

    In the thread comments, please suggest other contacts in the US and from abroad. This blog thread can then be used in the future to alert the media to denialist activity.

    http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/turn-the-tables-on-monckton/

  35. Leland Palmer says:

    Very interesting article, and it appears to be factually correct.

    But it’s a nasty attitude that this guy has toward the internet, IMO.

    Also, I do believe in conspiracies. I believe that corporations conspire to protect their profits, and hire legions of liars (known as public relations specialists) to propagandize the public, for example.

    The author appears to blame the conspiratorial aspects of climate denialism on grass roots internet pundits.

    No, this effort was not grass roots- it was corporate astroturf. Numerous Greenpeace and Union of Concerned Scientists reports make clear the corporate funding of this deliberately created information laundering network.

    The author appears to blame the whole paid climate denial machine on the dupes of what is in fact a paid climate denier network. No, this was not a spontaneous explosion of grassroots internet pundits.

    So, nice article, but beware the anti-internet conceptual frame payload, IMO. Beware the “get them nodding” persuasion technique, long used by trial lawyers and other specialists in persuasion.

    This is an article from the conservative press. Maybe it was just written by a conservative guy, and conservatives do love to hate the internet.

    But maybe blaming the grassroots and the internet for corporate astroturf is standard operating procedure for an astroturf propaganda effort.

  36. DreamQuestor says:

    David says:
    July 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I don’t really know if there’s a historical analog to the “skeptic” movement. I could see likening it to Neville Chamberlain — but they’re not only are in support of not doing anything about the problem, they’re also actively impeding anything getting done about it.

    There are quite a few parallels with the pro-slavery advocates (in America and elsewhere) of the 19th century:

    http://www1.assumption.edu/users/lknoles/douglassproslaveryargs.html

    Some of the arguments are as unreal as anything Monckton and his ilk have produced:

    “If Slavery is subject to abuses, it has its advantages also. It establishes more permanent, and, therefore, kinder relations between capital and labour. It removes what Stuart ill calls “the widening and embittering feud between the class of labour and the class of capital.” It draws the relation closer between master and servant. It is not an engagement for days or weeks, but for life. There is no such thing, with Slavery, as a labourer for whom nobody cares or provides. The most wretched feature, in hireling labour, is the isolated miserable creature who has no home, no work, no food, and in whom no one is particularly interested. This is seen among hirelings only.”

    It is disturbingly similar to the claims that global warming is actually good for the planet.

  37. CW says:

    The National Post has never been profitable since its founding in 1998.

    Source? See for example: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/business/media/11paper.html?_r=1&dbk

  38. Tyler says:

    Kudos to Jonathan Kay.

  39. Fighting Global Warming (GW) requires shutting down the world-wide coal industry immediately, followed by the oil and natural gas industries. GW deniers, anti-environmentalists, millions of dollars worth of propaganda, the fossil-fuel lobbyists in Washington, and the extreme pressure on the media are all explained by the efforts of our fossil-fuel industries to survive. This should be no surprise to anyone. Huge, multi-billion dollar industries will not go quietly!

  40. SecularAnimist says:

    David wrote: “I don’t really know if there’s a historical analog to the ‘skeptic’ movement.”

    Yes, there is — the people who promoted the idea of “winnable nuclear war”.

  41. Fire Mountain says:

    Note last night on ABC News, coverage of the continent-spanning heat wave. Everywhere toasting, records falling. The piece closed without a mention of global warming, and I was about to say, yeah, again. When the anchor came back on with a graphic, Global Warming? Is this heat wave caused by global warming? He responded by saying scientists predict greater heat waves, and then turned to the winter snowpacalypse. He noted, skeptics used that, but scientists say that global warming will cause more intense snowstorms. Through the text, it was. “skeptics say this, but scientists say that.” Very satisfying. As the warmth comes to the US, which has been mostly spared to date, the immediacy is going to start cracking the wall of denial. Plus I must think that it is now completely obvious that “Climategate” was a disinformation operation, smart journalists get that. I heard “hottest summer ever” again this morning on “Good Morning America.”

  42. CTF says:

    Bravo and Amen!

  43. Deniers by virtue of having their checks signed by fossil fuel, deniers by virtue of politics or ideology, by virtue of a career move or to get attention, and by virtue of various psychological mechanisms like denial, projection, etc. All of that.

    But there is a strong element that this conservative refers to that progressives too often ignore. Getting rid of fossil fuel is an immense and expensive change. Societally it probably means higher taxes. For a family barely getting by and not able to buy an expensive hybrid or install solar panels, etc., it means money they cannot afford, as well as a severe change in way of life they cannot envision. How much simpler to say it’s not proven, and is being promoted by a conspiracy of well-off scientists and progressives, jetting around the world talking to each other in fancy hermetically sealed hotels, driving their expensive hybrids, and telling other people to give up the machines that, over generations, mark their rise in the world, however uncertain. Their grandmothers may have dried their clothes on the line, but not them.