The curious case of the deniers who don’t deny anything

When I hear alarmists using the name “denier” it is a red flag for me. I equate that to bullying. When hearing someone call other names, in my eyes that person loses credibility. At that moment there is no rational communication anymore.

Suzanne Goldenberg used the term “denier” often in her talk in Crossing the 2014 Climate Divide: Scientists, Skeptics & the Media”. Stopping debate in the process. This is how she brought the basic dilemma:

But there are other problems that even have to do with what you have to call these people. I had agonizing debates about them. Do we call these people climate change deniers? They deny the existence of climate change. But if you do that, these people come back and saying you accusing me of being a Holocaust denier. We weren’t talking about the Holocaust.

It’s true she didn’t exactly called them Holocaust denier. Many other did liken them with Holocaust deniers. Meaning someone who denies an objective and proven, gruesome fact, which can not exactly been said of global warming/climate change. It is an alarm rooted more in climate models than in the observations.

What do those deniers deny exactly? Apparently, according to her explanation they deny “the existence of climate change”. That was a coffee-on-keyboard moment! As far as I can see, if there is one group that acknowledge the fact that climate changes, then it is skeptics.

In the text there are also several mentions that the deniers deny “the science behind climate change”. Huh, is this really true?

Do skeptics deny humans putting CO2 in the atmosphere?
We put CO2 in the atmosphere, more than ever. I think nobody denies that. Alarmist as well as skeptics.

Do skeptics deny CO2 being a greenhouse gas?
CO2 is a greenhouse gas, no doubt about that.

Do skeptics deny the effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas?
As a greenhouse gas it will warm the atmosphere. Everything else being equal, more of it should cause more warming. Not many will doubt that.
But of course, does everything stay equal in an ever changing, chaotic system?

Do skeptics deny the strength of the effect?
A lot skeptics and alarmist alike think it is around 1-1.2 °C per doubling from pre-industrial time.
That is of course without feedbacks and other interactions that will be there inevitably.

Do skeptics deny temperatures now higher than 50 years ago or higher than those of in 1850?
As far as the limited data provides the temperature now is higher than that of the 1850s.
But hat doesn’t say much about the cause of the rise. The fact that there was a temperature rise since the 1850s doesn’t mean the only explanation is we did it. The fact that temperatures rise, doesn’t mean it will be catastrophic.

And so on. As far as I know, skeptics don’t deny the science, but question the interpretation.

Skeptics don’t agree that this change is mostly caused by human CO2 emissions and/or that it is catastrophic in nature. That is something entirely different from denying that it exists. What Goldenberg is talking about is the existence of “Catastrophic Anthropogenic” climate change and that is indeed not necessarily something skeptics believe in.


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