To some, the term refers to an established fact that is dangerous to deny; to others, it refers to a kind of scam foisted upon the world by various interests; and to yet others, it refers to a claim that deserves more discussion and an acknowledgment of differing scientific interpretations of the available data.
Although some on the left use the term “denier” to accuse anyone who does not completely share their views on climate change (of “denying” that global warming is taking place), there is, in fact, considerably more nuance than that among the people sometimes grouped together under this label. Certainly, some Republicans, for example, do in fact describe global warming as a “scam,” while others acknowledge that humans are causing climate change through various mechanisms, including land use and industrial emissions. There are libertarians who actively advocate for carbon taxes, such as The Niskanan Center. Someconservative think tankshave addressed climate change - such as The Heartland Institute, which hosts an annual conference with diverse voices on climate change. There are some who agree with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) consensus regarding the causes and degree of anticipated climate change but question the costs of imposing carbon taxes. Somebelieve adaptation is a better strategy. Some believe there is considerably more uncertainty regarding projections than is acknowledged by the IPCC. Some are inclined to agree with the lower IPCC estimates of warming but are skeptical of the higher figures.
Those who doubt the reality or severity of global warming sometimes use the term climate alarmist to accuse non-skeptics of willful ignorance, delusion, or dishonorable intentions. Those labelled as alarmists react to this term with bewilderment, disbelief, and, yes, alarm. In their minds, skepticism in the face of the solidly established scientific consensus on the reality of global warming is genuinely difficult to understand. It smacks of willful ignorance, delusion, or dishonorable intentions.
The one thing it seems we can be sure of is that, when it comes to the phrase “global warming,” is that a space for genuine, open-minded, open-hearted, shared inquiry into the truth of global warming (whatever that truth might be) is sorely lacking.
QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:
- Would you call yourself a global warming denier, alarmist, skeptic, or believer? Or would some other term best describe your views?
- How did you arrive at the views you now hold about global warming? On what evidence or sources do you base your opinion?
- When people disagree with you about global warming, what do you say? How do you support your case? How do they?
Michael Strong, Arthur M. Peña
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