Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 30, 2021

The deniers are now “progressive inactivists”

The nature of the ongoing arguments concerning anthropogenic (man-caused) global warming (AGW) has recently changed, as is thoroughly explained in Michael Mann’s new book entitled, “New Climate Change War”.  Mann is an American climate scientist who has been on the front line of the AGW war throughout the last three decades. In this post, I will relate one of the major points made by Dr. Mann.  

A few years ago the climate change debate was largely between those who believed in the science behind AGW and those who denied that possibility.  Today, the argument has changed due to the overwhelming evidence for warming that has been observed in the most recent decades.  The former deniers of AGW now tend to agree that it is occurring and should be addressed in a timely manner.  At the same time, however, they now promote only those techniques and policies that would not reduce our use of fossil fuels (FF) and, therefore, remain strong spokespersons for the FF industries.  

Unfortunately, the policies they promote for addressing AGW have not been proven to be safe and effective. Thus, this group can now be more appropriately labeled our environmental “inactivists” who promote dubious technologies for fighting AGW in order to take attention away from the most sensible methods that focus on the heart of the matter – that is, the reduction of FF use. 

An example of this is the inactivist’s strong promotion of coal-fired power plants that are modified so that they capture and store a fraction of the CO2 emitted deep in the Earth where it is hoped that it will never be released back into the atmosphere. While this concept has been intensely investigated, it has not been shown to be viable at anywhere near the scale that is required. Nevertheless, the inactivists repeatedly suggest that this carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) scheme could eventually eliminate CO2 emissions from the multitude of coal-fired power plants presently operating throughout the world.  Again, what’s missing in this CCS scheme is any evidence concerning its applicability at the massive scale required. Nevertheless, CCS is presently used by the inactivists as a sales gimmick to mislead the public into believing that coal-fired power plants have a bright future in our attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, these same inactivists refuse to support a long-overdue carbon fee that would be charged to fossil fuel producers for their use of our atmosphere as a garbage dump. This carbon fee is entirely appropriate because it will cost a great deal to remove that extra CO2 that still is being added to the atmosphere by FF combustion. This fair and logical manner of reducing FF emissions is not supported by the inactivists merely because it would, indeed, reduce FF use throughout the world. It would also create a more level playing field for other non-polluting methods of energy production.     

Meanwhile, those who have been long-time believers in the science of AGW have not changed their tune and can still be appropriately labeled “activists” who not only believe in the science behind global warming, but also favor the direct actions that are required to successfully arrest its advance.   

With the relabeling described above, we can better understand the views most recently promoted by the inactivists.  They now claim to be very concerned about AGW and are allowed to weigh in on the question of what should be done about it. However, they do this in a manner that is likely to do more harm than good. 

Another example: the inactivists now promote the “gloom and doom” view suggesting that it is too late to do anything meaningful to address the AGW problem. This view implies that we should simply try to enjoy the fossil-fuel “party” while it lasts – thereby allowing the FF advocates to continue to sell their deadly wares until that addiction makes conditions on Earth much worse than they already are. The “gloom and doom” attitude is promoted by the inactivists simply because it would allow the FF industries to squeeze every penny out of FF sales for as long as possible.

Fortunately, this view of gloom and doom is not supported by science. That is, there is no scientific evidence that indicates that the Earth has already entered a run-away, irreversible state of change at this point in time. Our progression towards warming can still be arrested and reversed – but only if we stop burning fossil fuels – which, of course, is exactly what the inactivists are trying to prevent.   

Another example of the duplicity behind the recommendations of the inactivists is their promotions of various means of “geoengineering” of our climate. For example, it is well known that the intensity of solar radiation at the surface of Earth can be decreased by putting reflective sulfate aerosols into the upper atmosphere thereby cooling the Earth. Again, however, this idea and the numerous side effects that are sure accompany it have not been sufficiently tested and might do far more harm than good to our natural environment. Still the inactivists promote it simply because it would allow the continued use of fossil fuels for energy production – even though it would do nothing to reduce our emissions of CO2.

In summarizing the points made above, the AGW war is now being fought between the activists who favor action directed at the heart of the matter (fossil fuel combustion) and the inactivists who promote unproven possibilities simply because they would allow the continued use of fossil fuels at business-as-usual levels. In deciding which of these two choices we should take, it is clear that one is focused on returning the Earth to the natural conditions it had prior the Industrial Age and the other is driven mainly by the profit motivations of our exceedingly powerful fossil fuel industries. So, yes, the former deniers of AGW have now joined the ranks of people concerned about climate change. But most unfortunately, their motivations are mainly to create distractions and chaos within the climate change community so that no meaningful action is taken.


  1. Eric, I really like the label that you have given to the climate deniers, “Inactivists”. It is not as harsh as the aforementioned but it is more appropriate in that it also calls out their “inactive methods” to doing anything meaningful about Climate Change I also am greatly in favor of the carbon fee that you mention as I think that the Fossil Fuel industry should, like you mention, have to pay something for all the years that they have freely expelled their trash into our beloved environment. Please permit a plug here as Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that I am a member of, has a bill HR 763- Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act that they hope to re-introduce this year in Congress, that promotes a progressive’s fee on carbon emissions and gives back a dividend to each American citizen. It has bipartisan support and also includes a border adjustment fee. Thanks for your continued efforts and attention to this very important issue that needs some immediate solutions soon before we all become part of the Gloom and Doomer’s as there will be no other choice!!!!

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