I’m a climate change doubter. Does that make me a bad person?
Paul Rosenberg thinks so. In a rant he posted this week on the news site Salon, the left-wing polemicist likened those of us who dare to question the climate change orthodoxy to Holocaust deniers and mass murderers.
What set Rosenberg off was the recent announcement by the Associated Press that it was changing the entry on global warming in its Stylebook, the standard-setter on usage for much of the nation’s news media.
“Our guidance,” stated the wire service, “is to use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science and to avoid the use of skeptics or deniers.”
In making the change, AP tacitly acknowledges the unfairness of caricaturing as “deniers” those of us unpersuaded that global warming poses an existential threat to humanity.
It also recognizes that the term “climate change deniers” is loaded language; that it’s meant to denigrate doubters as anti-science know-nothings.
Rosenberg doesn’t see it that way, accusing AP of “false balance.”
Indeed, he fulminated, “climate change denial is actually much worse than Holocaust denial.” That’s because “Holocaust denial deals with the deaths of millions in the past, which it did nothing to cause.”
On the other hand, “[G]lobal warming denial deals with the deaths of millions in the future, which it helps to cause, by crippling efforts to prevent them.”
That’s the kind of twisted thinking that informs all too many of those – like Rosenberg – who subscribe to “mainstream climate science.” They believe that climate change doubters ought to be silenced, if not punished.
Consider Los Angeles Times letters editor Paul Thornton. Two Octobers ago, he acknowledged that the paper refuses to publish letters that suggest climate change is anything other than anthropogenic.
He based his decision, he wrote, on the declaration by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change that “it was 95 percent certain that we fossil-fuel-burning human beings are driving climate change.”
The almost predictable next step was for lawmakers to target climate change “deniers” with prosecution – like the Thought Police that George Orwell envisioned in his all-too-prescient novel, “1984.”
Which brings me to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat. In an op-ed published in May in the Washington Post, he called upon the Obama Justice Department to use the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to go after “[f]ossil fuel companies and their allies” for supposedly misleading the American people about climate change.
What particularly disturbs is the obvious message coordination between journos, like Rosenberg, and pols, like Whitehouse, in smearing those who challenge the conventional wisdom about climate change.
The common line of attack is to suggest that those who doubt the connection between human use of fossil fuels and global warming are no different than those who once denied the link between smoking and cancer.
Indeed, Whitehouse suggests fossil fuel companies can be rightly compared “to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking.”
Rosenberg similarly invoked Big Tobacco in his Salon screed, regurgitating the words of ThinkProgress climate blogger Joe Romm.
“The media doesn’t even pay attention to people who deny the health dangers of tobacco smoke anymore. So why treat those who deny the reality – and danger – of human-caused climate change any differently?”
Well, here’s why: The dangers of smoking have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The supposed link between “fossil-fuel-burning humans” and global warming has not – no matter the IPCC’s claim of 95 percent certainty.
So those like Rosenberg and Thornton and Whitehouse and Romm, who insist that the existential threat posed by climate change is as scientifically unimpeachable as the health risks posed by smoking, are the real deniers.