08 November 2009

Kevin Rudd's Gallery of Dangerous Deniers

I thought that it would be worth illustrating the sort of people that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd characterizes as climate deniers, people whose logic does not belong in any responsible government.
Category #1

"The first category of those opposed to action is the vocal group of conservatives who do not accept the scientific consensus."
We can illustrate this first category of skeptic by everyone's favorite climate change denier, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Senator Inhofe has said that global warming is a "hoax" and is adamantly opposed to action on greenhouse gases.
Category #2

"The second group of do nothing climate change skeptics are those who purport to accept the scientific consensus, but in the next breath are unwilling to support any of the practicable plans of action that would actually do something about climate change. This group plays lip service to the climate change science but when push comes to shove refuse to support climate change action. In Australia, these naysayers have successfully blocked the development of an emissions trading scheme for more than a decade."
We can illustrate this category of denier with NASA's James Hansen. Hansen has thought the IPCC too conservative, so it is not his views on science that qualify him for denier status, but his vigorous opposition to emissions trading schemes. Hansen was celebrated by cap and trade opponents when he said (PDF):
. . . governments are retreating to feckless “cap-and-trade”, a minor tweak to business-as-usual. . . Cap-and-trade is the temple of doom.
Category #3

"The third group of climate deniers are those who pretend to accept the science but then urge delay because they don't want their country to be the first to act."
We can illustrate this category with U.S. President Barack Obama, who has said,
"those rapidly-growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part as well. Some of these nations have already made great strides with the development and deployment of clean energy. Still, they will need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own. We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together."
Now President Obama is not explicitly urging delay and these comments are somewhat ambiguous, but it is simply a fact that extracting "commitments" from developing countries, especially China and India, has been a huge obstacle in international negotiations. The effect of calling for such commitments thus is one of delay, since the United States has thus far refused to sign on to the unilateral commitments of the sort called for by Rudd, and this has been a consistent fact of US policy since 1997, and it has not changed under Obama. This category of "denier" is quite full and would include other world leaders such as Angela Merkel of Germany. These leaders fit Rudd's criteria for their unwillingness to unilaterally advance strong domestic commitments in international negotiations, preferring instead to wait for others.
Don't expect the phrase "climate change denier" to go away. But it has been reduced to political comedy in my view.


  1. I thought R.P.Jr. would be in #2. ;-)

  2. Comedy! Its almost become an opera of tragic proportions!

  3. There is a Cat#4 "climate change denier". There are the ones who abuse the science in order to push a market solution that clearly will not make a difference to emissions (RP Jnr's "Magical Solutions". Step forward Kevin Rudd.

  4. I agree that urging commitments from India and China has been a significant delay, but surely it is vitally important that they are onboard? Brazil also fits into that category. As huge producers and consumers, they need to be brought into the fold. Ratifying anything without them is pointless as you may have to go through the whole process again, rather than it being an act of defiance from the West.

    Also, while Obama hasn't signed any intetrnational commitments, he has introduced an ETS into Congress and it is the Senate holding it up, not him. The real danger is from the whole of Congress, not the White House.

    Signing Kyoto, like Rudd did, is important but too little too late - potentially even a populist move only. But it is a focus on Copenhagen that will make a difference and from what I've read, Obama, like Rudd, is pushing for a significant and real resolution.

  5. Denial is now just another word for common sense. Setting arbitrary emissions targets without any politically feasible plan for how they will be achieved is the reason why policy has stalled.

    Pielke Jr and the other 11 international Professors have offered a way forward with 'How to get climate policy back on course' but no one is listening. That just leaves us magical solutions without any magicians, just clowns instead.

  6. "Climate Change Denier" is vilifying Political Speak. Likely in the same Political Speak category as the ultimate non-statistic statistic: "Jobs Saved".

    “Climate Change Denier” is really one who merely wants an open discussion of the facts. “Jobs Saved” means the Stimulus Plan failed and hence phony statistics become cover.

    Very Orwellian.

  7. Inhofe lumped with Hansen and OBama eh?

    You know the sad thing is, you're probably entirely serious with this, and believe it is some sort of novel "contribution" to an understanding of the issue. (Look, I've come up with a new way of applying the term "denier" to people!).

    Prima facie example # umpteen of why it is extrememly hard to take you seriously.

  8. -7-Jim Bouldin

    Do you think that I misapplied Rudd's three categories of denier?

  9. "Do you think that I misapplied Rudd's three categories of denier?"

    Yes I sure do.

    Rudd's category 2 criterion, according to your quote of him, says "...but oppose every practicable mechanism being proposed to bring about that action..."

    There is no way you can say that Jim Hansen fulfills that criterion. He may be against cap n trade, but he is decidedly NOT against a number of other ways of reducing emissions, most notably taxes on emitters with dividends to the general public, and thus is not against other practicable mechanisms.

    As for the category 3 criterion wrt Obama, no again. Rudd's exact words: "...those who pretend to accept the science but then urge delay because they don't want their country to be the first to act..."

    Obama neither "pretends to accept the science" (he DOES, most definitely, accept it), nor does the quote you provide, nor his general stance on the issue, argue that other nations need to go first before the US should act. He fully realizes that everyone must act.

  10. -9-Jim Bouldin

    On category 2 Rudd clearly singles out opponents of cap and trade as being in this category. So I don't think that your counter works so well.

    On category 3, you may be right, and it depends upon knowing what is in Obama's heart. You may know this but I don't;-) US policy does not hold that India and China must go first, but it quite clearly does hold (and has for more than a decade) that the US will not go before India and China. So Obama's stance on an international treaty is one of delay.

    More generally, how does one tell if someone is pretending to hold certain scientific views?

  11. "Climate Change Denier" is vilifying Political Speak. Likely in the same Political Speak category as the ultimate non-statistic statistic: "Jobs Saved".

    I'm a "Jobs Saved" denier. I have seen little evidence of Economic Warming lately and deny the Consensus of Official Government Reports. Meanwhile the Economic Temperature as measured by Unemployment remains positively frosty, and those so-called government "stimulus" "solutions" don't really help at all. ... Yup, the analogy does fit.