Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Five denier memes for 2012

In 2012, deniers will still not be Galileo

What denialist tropes will the cool kids be pushing in 2012?

All the golden oldies will remain in heavy rotation, including slandering scientists, "there's been cooling/no warming for X years," and "there's no consensus." But be on the lookout for the following memes, which are focus testing in the small markets of the comment threads now:

1. It's way too small to make a difference.

Notes: Deploying this strategy is as simple as minimizing something by comparing it to something vast. The fallacy is that instead of comparing cost to benefit, the denier compares a tiny instance to a world-spanning, expensive view of the whole, which is relevant only if someone is claiming that instance will address a whole issue by itself (no one ever is).

It's use is as simple as dividing X by Y. For example, if Jo Nova sadistically murdered eight children, that would be merely an insignificant 0.000000115% of the world's people.

Usable on almost anything the denier wants to dismiss; the emissions caused by the Keystone XL's dirty oil, the Greenland ice lost in a single melting season; the contribution to the grid of a single wind farm.

2. It's too late to do anything.

This is the next logical fail back position after "It's not warming" and "We're not causing it" and "It won't be bad." Expect it to surge among the more refined "skeptics," who are still subject to embarrassment when their original line of bull has been shredded.

3. Misrepresenting the world.

Note: Watch out for the sentence beginning "India and China will never . . . ." What follows is almost always an exercise in wishful thinking.

4. God save the white race!

I'm getting a really loathsome, racist vibe off of a lot of deniers these days. I'm not sure why this is making a comeback on the right. More marginalized, less inhibited?

5. Equating inaction with the success of their arguments.

 Deniers are less important than people concerned about inaction think, and much less important than they think they are. They cast themselves (and sometimes we, their opponents, collude in this) as the primary reason the world has not taken action to fight climate change, but here's what we know:

* Denialists have, through two years of relentlessly promoting the fake scandal "Climategate," left 75% of the public blissfully unaware of their anger and striving. 75% of Americans have never heard of "Climategate."

* Those that vehemently deny global warming consistently poll between 10-15% of the public. Of those, less than 5% admit to ever posting a comment about the subject online. So the highly visible fringe of the denialist movement represents a small minority of a small minority, talking mostly back and forth to each other. When they tell you more and more people are flocking to their banner, laugh.

* It's no mystery why Americans and the rest of the world haven't taken the right steps to fight global warming, the steps everyone is going to wish had been taken sixty years from now. It's a long-term problem. Is our political system good at those? It requires a certain degree of scientific literacy just to wrap your mind around it. Is that one of our strong points?

Special bonus prediction: Combining memes 1-4, 2012 will see a surge in the "Our emissions don't matter; the global South's emissions will soon dwarf ours." (Not true, poorer countries emission are important and will become the majority of emissions, but rich countries will maintain a large minority share but when has that ever stopped them?)


  1. Oh man we deniers have a lot more tropes than those five. C'mon.

    And BTW, the climate deniers have won, CAGW is dead. It over, go home, you lost.



  2. "CAGW is dead. It over, go home"

    That's the 6th meme for 2012!

    Although it *was* a meme for 2011,2010,2009,2008,etc too

    AKA in different form. "another nail in the coffin"

  3. Come on they are never going to say "It's too late to do anything"

    They'll slink off before that happens. WUWT will become a blog about computers or something and they will "forget" it was ever about climate.

  4. Why am I not surprised that a troll arrived first?

  5. I like your prediction, bob, but I've seen early versions of the "too late" meme appearing already. So while I'm sure you're right in large part, I think you'll see a surge in "too late" as well.

    "Why am I not surprised that a troll arrived first?"

    All are welcome. I wish the level of reading comprehension was a little better (more than five memes? Who said there were only five? That's not what I wrote.) And it would be nice if the angry denunciations were more specifically related to the topic, rather than general, unfocused gloating. Maybe he'll build up to that.

    Still, you have to appreciate an instant example of #5 ("CAGW is dead.")

    For me this doesn't rise to the level of trolling, which I associate with repeated posts without substance and persistent personal attacks. It's dumb, and it's denial, and that's bad enough.

  6. Well if you have seen early versions of "too late" then it looks more likely. I haven't seen any yet.

    In which case perhaps our non-troll gave a little hint of that future. The clue being his reference to "CAGW".

    Before my time, back in the 90s/turn of the century, I hear they were denying "GW" (some still do of course). Then they denied AGW (some still do) and now it's CAGW they claim to deny.

    So perhaps the next logical step of their denial evolution is to accept CAGW but conjur up a new letter to keep the denial alive? If you are right I predict it will be P as in Preventable.

    "PCAGW is dead"

  7. The way to not reward the fake-skeptics which rush to be the first to carpet-bomb new threads is to reset their time-stamp to further down the comment pile, so they are not first anymore...

    There's little the fake-skeptics hate more than being usurped and ignored.

  8. It would be lovely if they were more marginalized, but I think recent developments have made them come out of the closet. They now feel quite comfortable - speaking of denial, it really is frighteningly like Germany in the 30s. It used to be considered a little weird to claim scientists promote global warming theory as part of a global communist conspiracy, but now people can say it with a straight face. I remember the first time I trotted this out in a comment a couple of years ago as an example of crazy, never expecting the response I got, which was that I was the prime example of crazy for not believing it.

    On "we won, you lost" that's all over the place now. I guess flat assertion will win despite all the evidence of our lying senses. The more they lose, the more they win. Go figure!

  9. CAGW = Catastrophic AGW?

    So the dolts are shifting position.

    The "it's too late" really bothers me. Having been reading threads at Neven's and at RealClimate about methane I suspect such negativity may be coming from those convinced methane will be a catastrophe. Archer's latest 2 posts show that even with a 100 fold increase in Arctic methane CO2 emissions still matter a lot.

    The denialists have backed the wrong horse, time will reveal how utterly bankrupt they are. The problem is time isn't something we have in abundance. I'm sure some variant of Murphy's law covers such situations.

  10. yup, loads of CO2, slightly enhanced by methane and other GGs, not much time, giving up not an option. Get up your gumption, folks!

    I'm betting on industry, which is doing surprisingly well at getting the facts, having to actually work in the real world. (no, not Exxon Koch, but the rest)

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