The surge in views of a couple days ago came from both sides of the debate. The post was apparently shared by skeptics as well as alarmists, but of course different things were emphasized. The skeptical side linked the post itself. The alarmist side picked just one of the things that Tol said (agreed, it was not smart thing to say), ignoring all the rest.
When following a link from the WordPress Dashboard, I landed on an alarmist blog and found the link to my post in the comments section. There was also a interesting reaction: the question why someone found it necessary to put a link to a “climate risk denial” article? That “climate risk denial” article being my post of course.
I must admit that I am really amazed with the many ridiculous ways “denial” is being labeled. I heard many of those before, like “climate denier” (how can one deny climate!?!?), “science denier” (as far as I know, skeptics don’t deny science), “climate change denier” (strange, skeptics believe in climate change, not in the way that alarmists believe though) or “global warming denier” (most skeptics believe that temperatures have risen). The current “climate risk denier” label was however new to me.
Problem with that label is that climate risks are not denied in the article. Personally I don’t deny that the climate imposes some risks. There have always been risk involving the climate. History tells us that this is not exactly new. Even the linked article acknowledged that there are risks involved with for example sea level rise, but that these could be countered by developed nations like the Netherlands and that therefor it was better to solve poverty (making people economically better so they are better prepared in case catastrophic events do occur), than to try to drastically limit emissions in the hope that this will stabilize the climate. In my opinion, it boils down to how certain or uncertain we think we are of the effects of our additional CO2 emissions in the complex, coupled, chaotic system that is our climate.
There is a way to make sense of this “climate risk denial” label. Just substitute “climate risk” by “catastrophic anthropogenic climate change risk” and, well, my post and the article it is based on, are guilty as charged.
I personally don’t think the post was a “climate risk denial article”. It doesn’t deny that there is a risk, but it doesn’t agree that we know that the risk is high. In that regard I think this label is no better than the other ones that also don’t cover what they try to describe.