2009-11-30 Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense
- when: 2009-11-30
- author: John Rennie
- source: Scientific American
- topics: global warming denial refutation
- link: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=seven-answers-to-climate-contrarian-nonsense
- title: Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense
- summary: “Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those whom Inhofe calls skeptics are more commonly termed contrarians, naysayers and denialists. ... What follows is only a partial list of the contrarians' bad arguments and some brief rebuttals of them.”
On November 18, with the United Nations Global Warming Conference in Copenhagen fast approaching, U.S. Sen. James R. Inhofe (R-Okla.) took the floor of the Senate and proclaimed 2009 to be "The Year of the Skeptic." Had the senator's speech marked a new commitment to dispassionate, rational inquiry, a respect for scientific thought and a well-grounded doubt in ghosts, astrology, creationism and homeopathy, it might have been cause for cheer. But Inhofe had a more narrow definition of skeptic in mind: he meant "standing up and exposing the science, the costs and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism."
Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those whom Inhofe calls skeptics are more commonly termed contrarians, naysayers and denialists. Not everyone who questions climate change science fits that description, of course – some people are genuinely unaware of the facts or honestly disagree about their interpretation. What distinguishes the true naysayers is an unwavering dedication to denying the need for action on the problem, often with weak and long-disproved arguments about supposed weaknesses in the science behind global warming.
What follows is only a partial list of the contrarians' bad arguments and some brief rebuttals of them.
- Claim 1: Anthropogenic CO2 can't be changing climate, because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere and the amount produced by humans is dwarfed by the amount from volcanoes and other natural sources. Water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas, so changes in CO2 are irrelevant.
- Claim 2: The alleged "hockey stick" graph of temperatures over the past 1,600 years has been disproved. It doesn't even acknowledge the existence of a "medieval warm period" around 1000 A.D. that was hotter than today is. Therefore, global warming is a myth. (page 2)
- Claim 3: Global warming stopped a decade ago; Earth has been cooling since then. (page 3)
- Claim 4: The sun or cosmic rays are much more likely to be the real causes of global warming. After all, Mars is warming up, too. (page 3)
- Claim 5: Climatologists conspire to hide the truth about global warming by locking away their data. Their so-called "consensus" on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn't settled by popularity. (page 4)
- Claim 6: Climatologists have a vested interest in raising the alarm because it brings them money and prestige. (page 5)
- Claim 7: Technological fixes, such as inventing energy sources that don't produce CO2 or geoengineering the climate, would be more affordable, prudent ways to address climate change than reducing our carbon footprint. (page 6)