What is a “denier”?

If you don’t believe in global warning (or are merely skeptical that global warming is man-made), you are now called a “denier”.  Previously, you were merely identified as a “skeptic”, but, suddenly National Public Radio started using the term “denier” to refer to you.  I don’t know if it was original with them, but the appellation seems to have caught on like wildfire.  No one is a “skeptic” anymore.  Instead, he is a “denier”, at least as far as global warming is concerned.

Why the change?  I believe it was Franky Schaeffer who said, “If you control the language, you control the debate.”  For decades, those who said the holocaust didn’t happen were called “deniers.”  Despite the overt, voluminous, and incontrovertible evidence that Germany killed 6 million Jews in horrific ways, Muslim and anti-Semitic groups began to claim the Holocaust never occurred — or if it did, not in staggering numbers.  They stated it was all a hoax, perpetrated by shadowy Jewish moguls pulling strings behind the scenes to obtain sympathy and gain an advantage in reaching their nefarious goals.

In labeling those who are unconvinced about global warming as “deniers”, those who subscribe to global warming are attempting to conflate those who deny the holocaust with those who are skeptical of global warming.  By association, the latter become vicious racists like the former without ever having to make such an obviously ludicrous claim.  Thus, they win their argument without proof, just by name calling.  Sadly, this is very effective.

So, I thought I would put down my reasons for being skeptical of global warming — at least why I am skeptical today.  Future science may confirm the theory.  After all, there are both conservatives and liberals who are convinced global warming is a fact, not a theory.  Right now, though, I remain skeptical.  Call me a “denier” if you must, but here are my reasons.

I remember global cooling

During the 1970’s, I was a teenager.  I entered college in 1975, and the talk of the decade was the growing threat of global cooling.  Really!  I’m not making it up!  I haven’t gone senile.  In fact, the book What’s Wrong With Our Weather? by John Gribbon, copyright 1978 and 1979, explained in excruciating detail that although earlier decades were unusually warm and we were in some ways returning to normal temperatures, our planet was without argument cooling.  The book is replete with graphs and tables showing that our planetary temperature has been lowering.  One chapter was even titled, “The Next Ice Age Isn’t Due Just Yet.”  You can buy second-hand copies of this book on Amazon.com if you want.  My local library ditched it’s copy, and I picked it up only so I would have proof that I wasn’t hallucinating or on drugs during my college years.

So, when Global Warming suddenly appeared in the 1980’s, I was unimpressed.  Obviously, if our global temperatures had been cooling for some time and were now returning to previous temperatures, that was good and, in some ways, unexpected and welcome.

The climate models are unreliable — and I know why!

I have lost track of how many times I have heard predictions based on computer models that, frankly, haven’t come true.  I remember a US News and World Reports article on global warming proclaiming that we were doomed.  It was too late to stop global warming.  In fact, by 2010, many islands would be under water as the ice caps melted and sea levels rose.  There was nothing at this point that could be done to stop it.  Our inaction was now irreversible.

Don’t sell your beach front property just yet, because the islands are still here.  So, when I read that the sea levels are rising, I remind myself that, even if that is true, rich people still own houses along the beach that I’ll never be able to afford.

Does anyone remember after Hurricane Rita that scientists predicted (based on computer models) that storms of that severity would increase?  Rita was just the beginning.  It would be even worse next year, we were warned.  What happened?  The next year was one of the mildest hurricane seasons on record.

I work in a computer design agency, and let me tell you, there is nothing sacred about  computer models.  If I am a programmer, all I need to do is tell the computer something like this:  If carbon dioxide levels go up %.1, then make global temperatures rise by .5 degrees.  (I’m simplifying this.)  Then I tell the computer to assume that carbon dioxide levels will rise %.1 percent every year.  When I run the model, it does just what I told it to do.  If my assumptions are correct, the computer will provide correct output.  If my assumptions are wrong, or if there are other factors that I haven’t considered, then my output is incorrect.

I Remember “Climategate”

You might remember it, too.  It started in November of 2009.  Emails were obtained through the “Freedom of Information Act” (FOIA0).  In some of those emails, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom admitted that they had disposed of the raw data used to provide evidence of global warming.  As a result, their conclusions in support of global warming couldn’t be verified.  The scandal began spreading to other countries and other scientific communities when embarrassing emails that suggested scientists were cherry-picking or even manipulating data were released.

Why would scientist, dedicated to the truth, do this?  Well, perhaps their dedication to the truth is no greater than yours and mine.  Perhaps they, too, don’t want to be shown to be wrong.  Perhaps, they, too, discard inconvenient facts.  Or, perhaps, no one gets a government grant to solve a crisis that doesn’t exist.

Or perhaps it’s all a tempest in a teapot.

Today, this scandal has disappeared from the news.  Conservative websites use this scandal as proof that global warming is a hoax.  Liberal websites “debunk” the scandal.  What’s a person like me to think?  I can’t prove what happened one way or the other, but I can remain skeptical.  Something wasn’t right in all of this, even if I can’t determine it’s severity from reading to or listening to the news.  I am chary of jumping on any of these bandwagons.

He said, she said

You can go to competing websites, or even the same website, and read something like this:

“The National Snow and Ice Data Center (I didn’t even know there was one) reports that over the last 30 years, scientists have seen an acceleration in ice shelf collapses and that those collapses are likely related to climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is ‘one of the fastest-warming places on Earth.'”

And then you can go to another web site and read something like this:

“Climate Depot (I had ever heard of them either) reported in December 2013 that levels of global sea ice were actually at their highest level in 25 years.  In May 2014, Real Science (a web search comes up with so many possibilities for this that I couldn’t tell you who they are) said that global sea ice levels continue to expand and were at their highest in 32 years.”

One day, you hear on the National Public Radio that scientists have signed a letter subscribing to global warming.  The next day, you read in World magazine that a group of meteorologists signed a competing letter saying it isn’t happening.  Both of them have Nobel Laureates among their signatories.

Unless you and I only obtain our information from one new source, we can’t help but hear conflicting data like this.  I am forced to conclude that we can’t even agree on the facts!  When faced with stuff like this, I have a rule of thumb:  what does my experience tell me?  It tells me that, over my lifetime, there have been warm years and cold years.  That might be all that’s happening.

“Global Climate Change” is the new “Global Warming”

Lastly, when my oldest daughter took her Ecology class at our local community college, she and her classmates were tasked by their professor to write about the threat of global warming.  Having grown up in my skeptical presence, she decided to write why it might not be a threat because it might not even be happening.  Knowing that she was hardly preaching to the choir, she assembled her data and quotes and presented them so well that her professor, to his credit, still gave her a good grade even though he disagreed with her conclusions.  And then, he explained to the class (perhaps in an attempt to put her in her place) that scientists refer to the dangers of climate change now for the very reason that the data is conflicting.

Well, at least we can be assured that the climate will always be changing.  Things like this make me wonder if Global Warming proponents believe their own press releases!

Conclusion

So, I’m a skeptic.  Or a denier.  Or am I?  The book of Revelation in the Bible talks about a future time in which men curse God because the sun has grown hot (Revelation 16: 8-9).  So, perhaps, there’s more to global warming that meets the scientific eye.  (Though, to be kind to scientists, I did read of one man who asserted that the temperature of our sun is actually rising!)

I remain a skeptic.  I’m willing to be convinced one way or the other, but I won’t be convinced my name calling or someone telling me “ignore that man behind the curtain.”  I will only be convinced by actual consensus backed by my own experience.

I haven’t seen that yet.

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