Be careful for the bag of tricks of climate change deniers
Now that climate protests are clearly on the rise, attempts to minimize what is at stake are also being increased. In many ways, the severity of climate change and its causes are called into question. It is therefore important to know which techniques are being used by lobby groups, opinion makers, politicians or journalists in order not to take the climate seriously. Hence a small overview of the bag of tricks of climate change deniers.
Disputing or denying the human factor in global warming
This is undoubtedly one of the most popular techniques used to cast doubt. Although it is not denied that there is climate change, the human share is being contested or minimized.
For the sake of clarity: the climate has constantly been changing since the creation of this planet. But it cannot be denied in any way that the current warming of the climate is a direct consequence of human action. In its fifth report, the IPCC wrote that it is "extremely likely" that more than half of the observed temperature increases between 1951 and 2010 were due to human activity. With "extremely likely", they mean a probability between 95 and 100 percent.
It should be added that the conclusions of the IPCC are usually very cautious. There statement is also confirmed by other reports. For example, the US Fourth National Climate Assessment states that at least 93 percent of the observed temperature rises are due to human action.
The human share in the warming is therefore unquestionable. At most there can be a discussion about some proverbial fractions and decimal points. But making grammar and syntax the central issue of a debate about human responsibility is nonsense. It only serves to cast doubt.
Accusations of 'climate alarmism', 'climate religion' or 'lack of debate'
When climate deniers are confronted with the unscientificity of their statements, they usually change the rules and take a different road. Whoever warns of climate change is put away as alarmist or as someone who is a supporter of the religion of climate. It is a useful reversal where the accused, who is scientifically right, suddenly has to prove that he or she is not religious or alarmist and really is scientifically or well informed.
In other words, it is also a way to contest and deny the scientificity of conclusions or prognoses.
To accuse climate activists of religious thinking or alarmism is quite similar to the way in which social activists are dismissed as social justice warriors or 'gutmenschen'. They are terms that serve to discredit people and force them on the defensive. It is primarily used as a smokescreen to hide the real content of different forms of social struggle.
The criticism that climate activists do not want a 'debate' is very similar to the accusations of alarmism or climate religion. But it is not so much about disputing the scientific or knowledge of climate activists, but about their democratic attitude. Not holding debats with statements that are pertinent inaccuracy or with persons who intend to delegitimize the efforts of activists is portrayed as a great democratic injustice.
But who actually said that democracy entails the obligation to debate with everyone? It is also a democratic right to refuse a debate when it can be labeled as absurd or as a loss of time. The freedom to express an opinion is not equal to the obligation to label every debate as equal. Moreover, the paradox is often that those who proclaim that no debate is possible often do so on platforms with a public reach that the average citizen can only dream of.
Individual moral responsibility
Another classic: linking the right to speak about the climate to the fortitude of one's own behavior. Those who do not like climate activism will generally try in every possible way to show that climate activists themselves also contribute to pollution.
Only 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of the global emissions. Climate change is therefore mainly the result of not restraining big companies and governments. Of course, individual behavior is important, but thinking that you will be able to combat climate change in this way is nonsense. You can achieve real rapid effect by acting politically, by forcing governments and companies to map out a sound climate policy.
Taking refuge in naive progress optimism
Those who accuse climate activists of alarmism will also often claim that things are going well with the world. All kinds of statistics are then listed to show that humanity made some great progress and that we are actually living in the best of all possible worlds. It is another way to break the atmosphere of urgency, to appease people with the thought that things will not go that fast.
But even if you accept the idea that humanity has indeed made great progress over the past centuries (although the question remains whether the fruits of that progress are so fairly distributed), this says nothing about the future at all. The point is precisely that the way in which we have created this progress is overly burdensome for the ecological strength of this earth, and that there will have to be consumed and produced in radically different ways. That's what it’s about!
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