Posted by: ericgrimsrud | April 13, 2015

Deniers are now denying their denial

Organizations representing the Business-as-Usual / Fossil Fuels interests of America have begun to change their stance on the issue of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) – by acknowledging the prevailing view of climate scientists that mankind is causing global warming. Therefore, they are now distancing themselves from the pseudo-scientific “experts” they used to point to for “proof” that the science behind AGW was not yet settled. These organizations include the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute, both of which have previously funneled a lion’s share of funding to denial efforts.  For additional details concerning these apparent changes of attitude, see Dana Milbank’s recent Wa, fshington Post op ed at

An obvious question then arises – why would these Business-as-Usual fossil fuel interests do this? Have they suddenly become scientifically smarter? Have they suddenly grown a conscience with respect to the future welfare of humanity?  Are they really now willing to admit that fossil fuels should be left in the ground?  Pardon my skepticism, but I doubt very much that any of these altruistic thoughts are driving their altered views.  A far more likely reason is that these organizations now realize that the American public has become too aware of and concerned about the relentless advance of AGW as to believe the scientific non-sense the Deniers have been putting out.  Therefore, the former Deniers know that the challenge before them is to find different arguments that might play better in the public domain while allowing their friends in the fossil fuel industries to continue and even expand their operations for as long as possible.  Thus, I fully expect that the Deniers will be morphing into another species that might more accurately be labeled the “Deceivers”.

So what will the altered arguments of these Deceivers be?  In essence, they will likely argue that continued use of fossil fuels is necessary because, they will claim, alternative sources of energy cannot replace them any time soon.  While that argument does not insult the intelligence of the public quite so much as their previous denial of the problem, it does nothing to solve man-caused global warming and, fortunately, it is also not correct.  Replacements for fossil fuels are available and can be implemented within a decade or two.  The only hurdle we have to getting that done is that age-old one that accompanies all major changes –  some powerful people’s oxen will invariably be gored when major changes are made. But then, that is how free markets are supposed to work, is it not?  For example, the owners of livery stables of America were undoubtedly not pleased when Henry Ford began to turn out affordable cars in the first decade of the 20th Century. But any arguments those blacksmiths put forth at that time were not even remembered in subsequent decades as millions began to benefit from the booming auto industries of the USA.

Another argument the Deceivers are likely to make will concern the scientific term climate “Sensitivity” – which quantitatively indicates how much temperatures will increases with a given increase in greenhouse gases.  The Deceivers will argue that the magnitude of that term is so small that global warming won’t be so bad even as we proceed with Business-as-Usual for a few more decades.  The big problem with this argument, however, is that it is also contrary to prevailing thought within our scientific communities – Sensitivity is not that low.  For this reason, we can expect the Deceivers to continue to carry on the Denier’s past programs for “science bashing” – in order to minimize the public’s trust in science.

So keep an eye out for these altered efforts to prevent forceful action on climate change – they will be coming to your neighborhood soon.  In addition, we will still have some of the classic Deniers around. Surely Senators Inhofe of Oklahoma and Cruz of Texas, for examples, will continue to sing the same old Denier’s tunes while an increasing number of even their fellow Republicans plug their ears in embarrassment.

The goal of the Deceivers will be more subtle than before.  That is, simply to delay action on climate change for as long as possible.  There is, indeed, a lot of “gold in them there hills” – just ask as the tobacco industries.  Unfortunately, the “cancer” associated with deferred action on climate change will attack our entire planet and will prove to be equally detrimental for all and not just the abusers of the substance in question.

Thus, our government has both the right and obligation to stop the growth of this cancer. That is clearly our only hope.  So please keep that point in mind, when you hear the Deceivers complain about “government interference” or “carbon taxes” in discussions of our future means of power production. Only after the playing field has been leveled by the inclusion of a stiff carbon tax can free markets be put to good use. We cannot continue to let our atmosphere be used as a garbage dump free of charge.


  1. I love it that the world is turning towards your arguments and thinking.

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