Since 2 007, the indispensable website Skeptical Science been “getting skeptical about global warming skepticism.” It has just one objective: to expose and rebut misinformation about anthropogenic climate change. Myth by myth, in short articles that are accessible, clearly-written and firmly science-based, they counterpose truth to ignorance and lies.
If you ever have to reply to a grumpy uncle or an oil company lobbyist, this is the place to start your research.
Lately, they have been updating their rebuttals in an ambitious project that will make this important resource even more useful. The article below summarizes the current state of the project: If you agree that this massive effort is worthwhile, please visit their support page to contribute!
by John Mason, January 30, 2024
Besides that, there are more than 25 in the queue for publication and newly-drafted rebuttals are accumulating at a rate of 1-2 per week as we churn our way through the long list of science-denial’s talking points. So it’s time for a short reflective post.
On the Assembly-line
Because many of these rebuttals are of a pre-2010 vintage, it’s sad to have to record that many have needed a total rewrite. Not because they are ‘bad’ or anything like that. At the time of their original publication, they were highly accurate snapshots of the situation. It’s just that more than 14 years have passed, far too little has been done to address the climate crisis and emissions (plus CO2 levels) have continued to track dramatically upwards. Also, there’s a lot of new science to read, digest and explain. This all takes time.
Out-datedness cuts both ways, though. Many of the quotes from science-deniers – the myths presented in the beige-colored box above each rebuttal — are of a similar vintage. Often, they involved confidently-made predictions, such as “we have entered a long-term cooling period.”
Fast forward to now and it’s obvious that many such confident predictions were one hundred percent wrong. Whether the deniers were aware of that at the time is an interesting philosophical question. Did they know they would be proven wrong but simply didn’t care – or were they so convinced they were right that physics simply caught up with them in the end? Or a mixture? Discuss!
An evolving situation
New climate myths still appear from time to time. For example, summer 2023 saw efforts to conflate surface temperature with surface air temperature. The clear motive was to downplay the extreme heat that affected Europe at times last summer and a rebuttal, taking the form of a blog-post (for now) was quickly assembled and published.
Other myths will likely emerge over the coming years and we ask the readers here if they could do us a favor. If you spot any new myth doing the rounds, please let us know via our contact form, providing a link to where you saw the new myth within the message. Thanks in advance!
As many readers will be well aware, climate science-denial talking-points come in all shapes and sizes, from the pseudo-technical to the purely rhetorical. Some are much easier to deal with than others. Within this latest batch, the silly myth that with regard to the greenhouse effect, CO2 is ‘saturated’ took up the most time. That’s because it involves the detailed nitty-gritty of the greenhouse effect with regard to the electromagnetic spectrum.
When a key aim of these rebuttals is accessibility, topics like this can be problematic. We want the reader NOT to feel as if they have been parachuted into a physics-class. Suffice it to say, we got there in the end, drawing upon the academic and presentation talent within our team.
Nevertheless, once again we note that it is much easier to cast doubt on science than to explain it, hence Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is [at least] an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.”