Arming You for Battle: Analysis of Three Climate Change Denier Arguments

WC isn’t at all sure that even something as hard as a stone cold fact can be driven into the closed minds of anthropogenic climate change deniers. But in the face of the science-denying, Kochtopus-loving Congress, WC remains optimistic. To help you remain optimistic, too, and to provide you with rebuttal to the climate-denier’s blather, WC will address three common arguments advanced by the Know-Nothings.

“The warming is just part of a natural cycle”

Climate science, unlike climate change deniers, has studied the history of world climate pretty carefully. There are indeed natural cycles, and we understand them. Climatologists know about the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and can trace in the influence of ENSO on global climate as it goes through its cycle. ENSO can’t explain the observed change in world temperatures. Climate science knows about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), during which the warm and cold areas of the Pacific Ocean change over 20-30 years. But neither ENSO or PDO explains the long-term warming trend shown by climate data. Nor do any other observed climate cycles. 

Besides, a “cycle” implies both up and down, temperatures rising and falling. That’s not what is being observed:

Source: NASA

Source: NASA

Hard to see a cycle there, isn’t it? Remarkably, next month, it will be 20 years since the last time we had a month where the global temperature was below last century’s average. There is no cycle, natural or otherwise.

“We’ve been warming up since the last ice age”

This simplistic distortion trades on the fact that the planet has obviously warmed since the last ice age; after all, the continental ice shields seem to be gone. But the facts are more complex.

14,000 Years of Global Temperature. Source: Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark and Alan C. Mix

14,000 Years of Global Temperature. Source: Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark and Alan C. Mix

The science shows that for about 7,00 years, the planet had been getting colder. Then, a geologic instant ago, global temperature trends reversed, and spiked to the highest levels in the last 14,000 years. Some seven millennia of cooling temperatures reversed themselves in less than a hundred years. The claim of continuing warming is patently false.

“To think humanity can influence the climate is pure arrogance”

No, this is exactly backwards. It’s dismissing tens of thousands of scientific papers, mountains of evidence and scorching hot reality that is pure arrogance. Sometimes this argument is based on Christianist biblical literalism: only God has the power to alter His planet. The answer to that appears to be free will, but the arrogant ignorance of Christianists doesn’t admit error. You won’t persuade them.

But arrogance is denying all of the evidence in the preceding two charts, the rising atmospheric CO2 levels, the increasing oceanic acidification. Arrogance is denying reality, not recognizing it. Arrogance is a delusion and, on the facts, anyone making that claim is delusional.

Since one set of solutions to the problem of climate change is manmade, intentional climate alteration – solar screens, stratospheric particulates, iron enrichment of the oceans – the argument is doubly foolish.

The climate deniers rarely make sense; these are just three of the arguments that are frequently advnced. But now you are equipped to address them. And folks using any of these claims in comments at Wickersham’s Conscience better be prepared for the consequences.