“All fanatics are the same. They make unprovable claims and distant dire predictions. Then they victimise and vilify those who don’t follow their own conveniently changeable beliefs, promising a justified violent vengeance unless the deniers repent.”
The above was posted in response to my Facebook status “Don’t forget today is Punch a Climate Skeptic in the Face Day. And if you see one of those anti-vaccinators too, punch them one for me too. After all, there really isn’t any difference”.
I made a similar comment on Twitter.
Let me say that I deserve to be pulled up for the ‘punch in the face’ comment. Violence in political or scientific debate, of course, is unacceptable. When people suggest punching our Prime Minister in the face (or slapping her, which some seem more appropriate for a woman) I take offence. Punch in the face? My bad.
So on to the rest of the response. I must admit, the thing that caught my eye first is claim that a fanatic has “conveniently changeable beliefs’. There are two comments I’d make about this, the first being I would have thought it was the opposite. For example, I’ve never heard of religious fanatics as being the ones who change their minds.
I’m not a fanatic. But I’ll cop that I am happy to change my mind, but not a my convenience. Should science consensus shift and state that global warming is not occurring, I’ll follow along. But not before.
That hasn’t happened yet though, which takes me to the second part of the ‘conveniently changeable beliefs’ statement which suggests that climate science has changed it’s story several times over the years. As far as I can tell, climate science has been completely consistent.
1. As a whole, the world is warming.
2. The warming is predicted to continue into the future.
3. Greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide and methane, are currently driving this change
4. It is highly likely human activity is contributing significantly to this change
The warming activity is predicted to drive several things, but to give an example one of the impacts are increased extreme heat, including increase occurrence of drought, tropical cyclones and increased precipitation. While drought and increased precipitation might seem contradictory, we are talking about global impacts.
So should science change and the consensus be that global warming is not occurring, I’ll be wrong about one of the statements above.
But that doesn’t make climate skeptics smarter. Currently the skeptic stance is ‘It’s just weather’. In other words, there is no climate change occurring. A year or two ago it was the sun, until it wasn’t. 2005’s favourite of skeptics was “Climate change stopped in 1998”. We don’t actually hear that one anymore, because 2005 turned out hotter than 1998. As did 2008. Before that it was we’re actually cooling. Sometimes the claim is that it isn’t us. Or clouds will negate the warming. Or something. Basically, every few months skeptics’ beliefs change from “It’s not happening” to “It’s not us” to “It’s happening, but it isn’t bad” to “It’s happening, but it’s too hard” (with the occasional non-scientific political objection thrown in such as the awesome “It’s a communist conspiracy to bring down Western civilisation!” as suggested by former Liberal Senator Nick Mitchen).
In comparison, climate science is like a rock against skeptics splashy attempts to discredit.
A fanatic is not a person who changes their mind, but a person who never changes their mind, only their argument. The one who says “I don’t care that I was wrong, I didn’t really mean that I met something else you haven’t looked at so that means you’re wrong” – that’s a fanatic. Science on the other hand says “What you say is very interesting. Let me check your facts and see if you are right”.
So if I am wrong, and climate change isn’t occurring, I’ll admit it. But I’ll be wrong only about only one thing. Climate skeptics will be right about one thing – by sheer luck – and wrong about a dozen or more other things. Just like Mel Gibson in “Conspiracy Theory” – he discovers one of his conspiracy theories is right, he just doesn’t know which one – the climate skeptic, if right, cannot today tell you which random belief he or she has disproves climate change. They just ‘know it’.
I’m not a scientist. Chances are, you aren’t either. Neither of us have the training or ability to dissect three decades of climate change science. Neither of us can predict the future. Once we get to the future, neither of us can roll it back, make a different decision and see if it changes the outcome. While conspiracy theories are very, very fun as teenagers, as adults we must make decisions based on the best data available. And consider not just sunny skies, but scenarios less bright.
In our household budget where we list our net worth, we don’t just have current assets versus current debt, we have a column that tells us our net worth if our assets were worth 20% more against current debt and also if our assets were 50% less in value against current debt.
This gives us a bigger picture of our finances for when we make financial decisions. The hopeful, the best data available and the cautious views.
But I digress: back to climate change. The the data and scientific consensus is currently behind man-made climate change. It has been for decades. It’s not about unproven claims and distant dire predictions. It’s about adults making decisions based on current information.
Fanatics need not apply.