Written By: - Date published: 7:53 am, July 30th, 2016 - 161 comments
Categories: climate change, energy, Environment, global warming, newspapers, science, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: chris de freitas, gareth renowden, Jarrod Gilbert
Chris de Freitas is the local go to person whenever the media want balance on climate change. Balance in that on one side is the views of the overwhelming majority of respected climate change scientists who think we are going to hell in a hand basket and on the other side are those we suspect have been bought off by the oil industry and think that there is no problem. There is also a third group, the innocently delusional who truly believe that anthropogenic climate change is not occurring despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. De Freitas may be a member of that group.
His latest effort published by the Herald this week is a textbook example of what not to write in a university assignment. One should always address the issue and use reality to support the proposition that is being advanced.
His bursting into print was directed against Canterbury sociologist Jarrod Gilbert who a few days earlier had published this provocative post which, rightfully in my view, challenged the stupidity of the climate change denial class.
Gilbert said this:
There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny climate change. The scientific consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term climate sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.
He does not actually call for the creation of a new offence but says there should be a very public response every time that a climate change denier seeks to confuse. He states this:
All of this might be a strange curiosity if the ramifications weren’t so serious. Whether it is the erosion of coastal properties, an influx of climate refugees from the Pacific, or the economic impacts on our primary industries from severe weather events, New Zealand must prepare for some significant realities.
The worst of these problems will impact more greatly on generations to come, but to ignore them now is as unconscionable as it is selfish. It ought be seen as a crime.
One way in which everyday crime can be discouraged is to ensure that “capable guardians” are around to deter criminal activity. When it comes to climate change, the capable guardians are educated members of the public who counteract the deniers.
There may be differing opinions on what policies to pursue, but those who deny that climate change exists ought be shouted down like the charlatans that they are. Or better yet, looked upon with pitiful contempt and completely ignored.
De Freitas obviously took umbrage at the article. In his response he claimed that Gilbert wanted to silence climate change deniers and thought this was a monstrous thing for a University Lecturer to suggest. His view involves a misreading of the article. If this is the quality of de Freitas’s analysis then I can understand how he misinterprets the evidence relating to climate change. Because Gilbert talked about charlatans being “shouted down” or “ignored” and having ca-able guardians to quickly and readily counter any claims made by deniers.
De Freitas then compares Gilbert’s statements to accusing someone of being a holocaust denier or engaging in racist insults. Holy false equivalence. Goodwin strikes again.
It appears the deniers have a tactic of accusing people who deny that climate change is occurring with claiming they are holocaust deniers and he mentions Benny Peiser in his article. Peiser has the dual features of having an asteroid named after him and being the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation the Nigel Lawson backed think tank.
De Freitas claims that “recent research findings show there is no evidence — none at all — to support the global warmers’ scaremongering.” He also says that the computer modeling has not been validated. How much validation does he need?
He also thinks that feedback mechanisms are keeping in check temperature rises. If only this was true.
Essentially he neatly fits into the description that Gilbert gives of climate change deniers. He refuses to accept the evidence or that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is occurring and refers obliquely to studies that have been continuously discredited.
The perfect response to de Freitas comes from this blog post by Gareth Renowden at Hot Topic where he addresses a similar challenge issued by another climate change denier.
Renowden says this:
To be blunt about it — and I think you would expect nothing else from me — I believe I would be wasting my time indulging in any form of protracted discussion about climate science with you. I do not believe that your position on the issue would alter in any important respect, however cogently I presented facts and figures. You have too much invested in your climate opinions — your blogging, your denialist colleagues, your public persona — to be willing to change. Your entire track record suggests arguing with you would be futile.
Your views on climate change only make sense in an odd world where 97 percent of climate scientists are somehow conspiring to force people to stop using fossil fuels for political reasons. That’s a very strange planet to live on. Very few people share it with you.
The rest of us have to live in a world where climate is changing — and fast — because of the cumulative effect of our greenhouse gas emissions. Our children will have to live with the consequences, and you have played a part, however small, in making that future a worse place than it need have been.
I am all for robust debate. But both sides ought to be at least slightly reality based.