“Stasists”? No. “Deniers”? Yes.

My previous post about the polar bear photo embarrassment, which Andy Revkin wrote about, gives me occasion to comment on Andy’s use of “stasists” for the people in opposition to the climate warming arguments. He favors that term, I gather, because it is more neutral than names like “denier,” and because he thinks it speaks to the goal common to the diverse camps of people on that side of the argument: to keep on doing things as we have been. Much though I appreciate Andy’s ongoing good-faith journalistic efforts to keep an even keel in these contentious discussions, after some consideration, I still disagree about the appropriateness of that label. (But then again, I’m no fan of the “pro-life” label for people who are objectively anti-choice, either.)

First, let’s acknowledge that the terminology for both sides stinks. James Hansen, Stephen Schneider, Rajendra Pachauri, Al Gore and others warning about the evidence for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are obviously not “warmists” in the sense of wanting more warming any more than Marc Morano and Bjorn Lomborg are “coolists” who want more cooling.

The problem is compounded by the range of nonexclusive reasons why (ostensibly) people are in the stasist/denier camp. First, there are the many who may start off with no particular opposition to the idea of AGW but who sincerely do not know or do not understand the evidence for it (I would like to think they constitute much of the U.S. public). Then there are the ones who outright deny the climate is changing; the ones who do not think human activity could affect the climate; the ones who recognize changes in the climate but insist it must be natural; the ones who concede the possibility of human influence but doubt the warming will continue; the ones who accept the fact of significant warming but doubt it will be disruptive; the ones who grant AGW could be bad but say responding to it in the future makes more sense than trying to prevent it; and the ones who simply argue that More Research Is Needed and refuse to act until their agnosticism is satisfied. And of course within each of those segments, one could split out still smaller shadings of opinion. (Baskin-Robbins doesn’t have as many flavors of ice cream as Andy’s stasists have flavors of opposition.)

Finding one name that honestly and accurately reflects all those points of view is difficult. Yet with the exception of those who can plead genuine ignorance (and who are almost never the ones publicly arguing against climate science or policy), pretty much all of those other positions involves some level of active denial or disagreement with copious scientific evidence or risk-management precedent. So at a purely existential level, they define themselves to my mind as the “uninformed” and the “deniers.”

(I suppose the latter could also be called “resisters,” but frankly, the dishonesty many of them exhibit in repeatedly using debunked arguments persuades me that the overtones of “denier” are more accurate. Moreover, since I suspect that many of them are simply committed a priori to rejection of the climate science and its consequences out of their own beliefs, the term “denialist,” with its creedlike associations, also makes considerable sense.)

But here is the crux of my argument: I think it’s a mistake when characterizing these people as deniers to try to homogenize what they think about AGW or climate science because they are all over the place on those. Rather, what they all deny is any need for a pro-active response to AGW.

Isn’t that essentially Andy’s argument for calling them stasists? It’s close but here is where I fault his terminology. First, these critics are not all calling for stasis in policies: those like Bjorn Lomborg are happy to see any number of policy responses but only after the damage of climate change is more evident. They simply don’t want anti-AGW activism to rock the boat now. Second, I think “stasist” is Orwellianly misleading as a label for a position synonymous with acceptance of massive change. Put it this way: would you consider someone a “biodiversity stasist” if he advocated continuing to cut down rainforests only at the current rate?

As so many climate scientists and others have already said, the time for action on global warming is already upon us. Let’s be clear, then, that the division in the arguments is between those committed either to climate action activism or to climate action denial (or resistance or opposition). Forget trying to find some neutral, anodyne term in the interest of reconciliation. The weight of evidence runs against most of the deniers’ positions, so don’t hesitate to use a term that puts them on the defensive.

34 thoughts on ““Stasists”? No. “Deniers”? Yes.

  1. Perhaps you could pay more attention to the science than the rhetoric. The IPCC’s figure for climate sensitivity to CO2 is seriously under challenge.


  2. 1) The “denier” slur began with Ellen Goodman specifically comparing skeptics to Holocaust deniers. Demonizng ones opponents is a cherished tactic of totalitarians. So is declaring a debate over before it even begins.

    2) Put “deniers” on the defensive? How clueless can you be? You do realize only 33% of the population believe in man made global warming, right?


    Despite the mass media and academia backing you completely since the beginning your support continues to slip. Normal people think you are nuts. They also think you are arrogant, bigoted, assholes. This fall they will eviscerate your remaining political support in Congress. Two years from now they won’t even take your calls on Coast-to-Coast AM.

    I would urge you to play defense but there is no one of your kind that has the ability or inclination to see your failings and adapt.


  3. Oh, no! I’m on the defensive by being branded “Denier”! What shall I do? I’ll do my part to solve AGW by not emitting any more carbon than Al Gore does.


  4. Who are the deniers? The ideas that the current warming is unprecedented and that the effects of CO2 are amplified are based on thought experiments and computer models. When scientists look at the question using real world data, (not models) the feedbacks to CO2 are negative and the warm periods of the past reappear. Why are experienced scientists that look to the real world for answers not considered “climate scientists” and computer geeks with an agenda are? Instead of quibbling about the semantics why don’t you first try learning the math and scientific principles and then reading the scientific literature on both sides of the issue. There is a reason that so many well trained scientists are questioning AGW .


  5. You should focus on your own actions rather than those of your opponents. For example, recently in Scientific American you once again repeated the same falsehood that got Al Gore in trouble with an Inconvenient Truth–about Svante Arrhenius’ projections for climate change due to a doubling of CO2 concentrations. You used his first pass and neglected to tell your readers that re redid the numbers a decade later and came up with 2.1 degrees C as the figure.

    Let’s also see if you do what others of your position do whenever they are busted on this particular talking point, which is to say that Arrehenius’ calculations were in error on a variety of issues. To which the response is, why then did you bring Arrhenius up? To which there is usually an attempt to change the subject.

    It is the number of specific issues where you and your co-believers do exactly the same thing that has produced death by a thousand cuts for your overall position and has bled away the considerable support and goodwill you originally enjoyed.

    Ya done it to yourselves.


  6. I deny that the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035. Does that mean that I am “on the defensive”?


  7. since you say that there’s no reason not to use a term that puts people on the defensive, and since you obviously believe that there is no reason to try and build any sort of consensus, wouldn’t it be acceptable then to simply label you a stupid sack of shit and be done with it?


  8. “The weight of evidence runs against most of the deniers’ positions …”

    Odd, then, that a careful and exhaustive reading of AR4 WG1 Ch9, “Attribution” — the only chapter of the whole volume actually relevant to anything, since nobody denies that the globe has in all probability warmed on the order of 1 deg F or so over the last century and a half — what do I find as the ONLY evidence presented for the anthropogenic CO2 theory?

    “Our models can’t reproduce the warming without anthropogenic CO2.”

    That is, exactly the same idiotic non-argument that convinced so many ignorant politicians and journalists in 1988. (It turns out, of course, that Hansen’s model doesn’t even account properly for Venus, the original object of his study.)

    And anyone who believes that the strawman expatiation at RealClimate has actually “debunked” any of the central skeptic arguments simply doesn’t understand the science.


  9. You write: “…with the exception of those who can plead genuine ignorance (and who are almost never the ones publicly arguing against climate science or policy), pretty much all of those other positions involves some level of active denial or disagreement with copious scientific evidence or risk-management precedent. So at a purely existential level, they define themselves to my mind as the ‘uninformed’ and the ‘deniers.’ (I suppose the latter could also be called ‘resisters’, but frankly, the dishonesty many of them exhibit in repeatedly using debunked arguments persuades me that the overtones of ‘denier’ are more accurate.”

    This sort of baloney prompted me to cancel a Sci-Am subscription, during yout tenure as editor, that I had maintained for nearly 20 years.

    I do not know of anbody who denies “climate change”. Indeed, many opponents of policies designed to address AGW see previous climate change (e.g. ice ages, Younger Dryas, Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age) as reason to dispute CO2 as a cause of warming.

    I plead ignorance. I accept that my B.A. in Math does not qualify me to assess the models which climate scientists use. It does not qualify me to assess the statistical techniques by which a warming trend appears through statistical noise and sampling error. It does not qualify me to assess the validity of the assumptions about plant physiology which allow paleobotanists to use fossilized tree rings as thermometers. I am still trying to think through the basic physics that allows the temperature of a body in orbit of radius r around a star with radiant flux x watts/M^2 at r to depend on anything other than x, r, and radioactive decay and residual heat generated by impact during formation.

    I observe that highly cedentialed people have raised nearly all of the above points, and that the response of the Hockey Team and their supporters has been ad hominem abuse.

    Frankly, the dishonesty, the perversion of the peer review process, the restriction of access to their raw data, and their ready resort to ad hominem many of them (climate scientists and their shills) exhibit in in this argument convinces me that they have something to hide.


  10. Like Malcolm Kirkpatrick, after a lifetime of being a regular reader, I also no longer read UnScientific American because of the changes that occurred during your tenureship as the editor. For those who would like a more nuanced discussion of the difference in beliefs between those who believe or disbelieve the AGW hypothesis, see my post “Trust and Mistrust”.

    As to whether the difference is whether people like me, who don’t believe the AGW hypothesis, also deny the “need” to take action, I propose a variety of actions to be taken in my post “Climate, Caution, and Precaution”.

    You might be an American … but you surely are not scientific …


  11. This is what happens when you have no argument, you name call. I have askd for over 25 years for one shred of proof that man made CO2 drives climate change and to date the alarmist camp has no proof. I actually studied climatology in college. When I was a student we were required to utilize the “scientific method”, which is apparently inconvenient for “new science”. In my day if your theories’ predictions did not match observations, your theory was dismissed. Not one of the many models put forth by the alarmist camp has ever accurately predicted climate. I guess if your theory stands to make certain individuals very wealthy, competence can be put aside. What I find most amusing about all this is that we will see who is right. Much as they may wish it to be, these alarmists cannot control our climate, only the flow of information.


  12. The warming alarmists use the “greenhouse effect” as an explanation for how CO2 allegedly creates a “blanket” of gas that prevents heat from escaping the earth’s atmosphere. This is of course a hoax. The former editor of SA is a fraud. Stop lying to the public. You are a disgrace. You are nothing but a political hack.

    The reality is that the earth is warmed and cooled by radiation, convection, and conduction. No convection occurs in a green house because of the glass panes. There are no glass window panes surrounding the earth. The lie that is the greenhouse effect trivializes the complexity that is the atmosphere of the earth. However, the libs and dems have a political agenda and have used the myth of man made global warming as a device to force a political agenda on the taxpayers. At best, man made global warming and man made climate change are unproven hypotheses. The four corners of deceit are science, academia, media, and government. The climate models are not verified by the field data and observations. The warming alarmists will never prevail. They are liars. They believe that the ends justify the means. Deceit. Corruption. Dishonesty. Lies. Distortions. I believe in cycles, the sun, sun spots, and the forces, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, that far surpass the puny power that is under man’s control.


  13. The AGW proponents try conger a future with computer models that they program and deny a past by erasing the warming period during the Middle Ages.

    How did the last Ice Age end, or is it still ending?


  14. “The weight of evidence runs against most of the deniers’ positions, so don’t hesitate to use a term that puts them on the defensive.”

    It is clearly the exact opposite. There is not a shred of defendable science which supports AGW.

    Henry’s Law, Beer’s Law, Thermodynamics, and the elegant work of Miskolci and Zagoni all support the conclusion that CO2 cannot and does not drive the climate. It is a trace gas and the historical record shows clearly that temperature changes always precede CO2 changes.

    There are much more powerful factors out there that drive the climate, including ocean cycles and the Sun.

    The model that CO2’s effect is multiplied by water vapor as a positive forcing factor is fatally flawed as water vapor in a real atmosphere (not a simple greenhouse) is part of a powerful negative forcing factor in the form of a global convection heat engine which carries heat upwards to be lost to space.

    Add to the mix the fact that CO2 has been much higher in the recent past (440-550 ppm in the 1940 and high twice in the 1800s) and tipping point alarmism becomes a fairy tale with which to scare little children.

    We do not have enough available carbon to double atmospheric or even raise levels to those of the 1940s as CO2 partitions 50 to 1 between sea water and the air. Predictions of CO2 doubling in this century will only come true if the oceans outgas A LOT due to warming which would not be due to our activities – as CO2 and water vapor interact to form a constant effect (CO2 replaces absolute water vapor).

    The climate has a roughly 70 year cycle which goes back hundreds of years. To accept that this pattern simply disappears because Maurice Strong decided to create a false crisis over CO2 with the goal of creating a one-world government is stupid. Yep, he created the IPCC with the mission to show AGW – no other product can be expected from them, it’s their job! Even if we were cooling, which we are, as the cycle has flipped to its cooling phase, the IPCC would not say so as that is not in their mission – they have to interpret everything they see as evidence of warming regardless of the real causes.

    What evidence shows AGW is true?

    Hockey Stick graphs built from carefully selected? No.

    Corrupted temperature data sets consistently adjusted to warming when the urban heat island effect demands a negative adjustment? No.

    CO2’s artificially augmented thermodynamic factor to make it appear 12 times more effective as a heat-trapping gas? No.

    The assumption that water vapor is a positive forcing factor which it clearly is not? No.

    The unethical grafting of ice core CO2 data with Mauna Loa CO2 data and an 82 year shift of the data to make them overlap? No.

    The cherry-picking of historical CO2 bottle data to create a low historical CO2 average and the pretense that it has been consistently low until now? No.

    The choosing of a hallmark sea level gauge in Hong Kong, which happens to be the only one in the area known to be physically sinking? No.

    Making false assumptions about ocean acidification that go against all real world experience and basic sea water chemistry? No.

    Pretending that CO2 heat-trapping effect is linear with concentration and not ruled by Beer’s Law? No.

    Pretending that polar bears are endangered and suffering when their populations are thriving and only suffering in two colonies where their environment is cooling the most? No.

    Pretending that CO2 is an air pollutant and harmful when it is really plant food that is greening the planet? No.

    Yep, sure seems like I am overwhelmed with real science supporting AGW!

    To pretend that AGW is supported scientifically is to believe the charlatans.

    When is comes to science, ignorance is the normal human condition, knowledge and understanding is the exception.


    1. “Add to the mix the fact that CO2 has been much higher in the recent past (440-550 ppm in the 1940 and high twice in the 1800s) and tipping point alarmism becomes a fairy tale with which to scare little children.”

      Not forgetting, Charles Higley, that the Carboniferous period had some 20x the CO2 we have now, and the Jurassic some 10-15x where life clearly thrived and delicate aragonite corals evolved, without a runaway greenhouse or fabled “tipping point”, ever. If the oceans had been as acidic as AGW catastrophists espouse, we wouldn’t have fossils of these corals and shellfish as we do.

      I find it hilarious that AGW catastrophists also continue to expedition to the Arctic trying to prove AGW by all the open water they “know” they’ll find, but rapidly have to be rescued days into their trek because of the sheer cold and surprise, surprise – lots of nasty ice that shouldn’t be there because Greenpeace and WWF told them it wasn’t. I mean, what’s next – palm trees and sandy beaches expected to become common in Iceland? Some have already blamed AGW on that volcano..


  15. We getting back to the work of R.W.Wood who showed that the “greenhouse gas effect” does not exist his work was published in 1909 a hundred and one years ago. CO2 does not cause global warming! The work of Gerlich and Tscheuschner has been published in International Journal of Modern Physics. It shows the physics of why the concept violates the fundamental laws of physics. It is my understanding that it is being peer reviewed. The AGW crowd have claimed that there are errors but when you read their comment most are gobbally gook – they are more concerned that the paper is too long , or not organized the way they think it should be. The references by other authors support the work of Wood and G&T.
    List of references:
    The paper “Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect within the frame of physics” by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner is an in-depth examination of the subject. Version 4 2009
    Electronic version of an article published as International Journal of Modern Physics
    B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275{364 , DOI No: 10.1142/S021797920904984X, c World
    Scientific Publishing Company, http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpb.
    Report of Alan Carlin of US-EPA March, 2009 that shows that CO2 does not cause global warming.

    Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics” by Dipl-Ing Heinz Thieme This work has about 10 or 12 link
    that support the truth that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax.
    from the Philosophical magazine (more properly the London, Edinborough and Dublin Philosophical Magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320. Cambridge UL shelf mark p340.1.c.95, if you’re interested.
    The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory
    By Alan Siddons
    from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_hidden_flaw_in_greenhouse.html at March 01, 2010 – 09:10:34 AM CST

    The bottom line is that the facts show that the greenhouse gas effect is a fairy-tale and that Man-made global warming is the World larges Scam!!!The IPCC and Al Gore should be charged under the US Anti-racketeering act and when convicted – they should spend the rest of their lives in jail for the Crimes they have committed against Humanity.

    Web- site references:
    http://www.americanthinker.com Ponder the Maunder
    many others are available.


  16. I also told Scientific American to keep their glossy fishwrap out of my mailbox after being a subscriber since the early 70’s. I also am an Earth scientist, familiar enough with the literature to judge AGW to be totally lacking in credibility. Data have been manipulated, deleted, unjustly altered and hidden from view. Scientific method has been grossly violated. In any other field of scientific endeavour this would be scandalous beyond redemption. Only politics has held this fraud together this long.


  17. I received my degree in science, and science and history have been my favorite reading subjects for the last 50 years or so. When I started hearing all this warmist business I had my doubts, so proceeded to do my own research and make my own observations. The more I researched and observed, the more I was forced to the conclusion that carbon dioxide could not possibly be the cause of the global warming we have experienced.
    After that, I delved into the science more; payed attention to NASA websites and Spaceweather.com. Conclusion – it is obviously the sun. Our sun is a variable star, and the variations cause the climate change. All of the necessary correlations are there, unlike the carbon dioxide theory. So then. just what is the problem with my being a “denier?” Quite frankly, I am proud of the fact.


  18. Thank you for this enlightening article. I too used to be a skeptic. Not any longer.

    You have thoroughly convinced me that it is far easier for snake oil salesman to pontificate on the more convenient deragotory name to label doubters in their audience than intellectually defend the science behind their product.

    That would certainly explain Joe Romm’s keen interest in your quest for the perfect label. Just a word of caution – I would stay away from the use of the labels ‘trick’ or ‘hide the decline’ should you decide to email Joe. It seems the use of such words past emails turned former alarmists into current deniers. Onward thru’ the fog.


  19. Funny that the author claims the evidence isn’t on the side of the ‘denier’ but completely fails show any evidence on why.


    Just like all the other propagandists the author bought this lie and are unable to produce any evidence to back it up. Just like NASA, the UN, Gore, Obama, and any other person that perpetuates this lie.


  20. Typical warming fool. All you have to read is the “so what” about the fake polar bear photo to know you’re dealing with a warming cult fanatic. It matters when you warmists continue to lie. It matters when you falsify data and pictures and models and temperatures and catastrophic predictions and melting ice and consensus and on and on and on…

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is the greatest scam in world history and these people need to be put in prison.


  21. The AGW crowd had to falsify data in order to make their case. What kind of s… is it when you have do do that? Don’t claim we are “deniers” as a slur. We just want honest science and so far we are not getting it from the AGW people. If you don’t study climate history, geology and astrophysics you will never get to the truth. The fact that you cannot get the simple purpose of CO2 being a plant food and not a pollutant says it all.


  22. Great work – keep it up.

    The more trash like this that you write the more opportunity for commentators to enlighten your other readers.


  23. The author’s characterization of the segments of opinion in the “anti” camp in his 3rd paragraph was worthwhile.

    Here are names I’ve suggested in place of ‘skeptic” (too mild) and “denier” (too fraught):

    Climate contrarian
    Deviationist (my favorite)
    Cooler head

    Lindzen proudly calls himself a denier, BTW.


  24. Here are the evidences:

    1. No warming for more than a decade


    But IPCC projection is for a global warming of 0.2 deg C per decade.

    2. The pattern of global mean temperature is cyclic

    As a result, there is no shift in global temperature so the effect of CO2 in global temperature is nil.

    If the global temperature pattern behaves the way it behaved for the last 130 years from 1880 to 2009, there will be global cooling by about 0.42 deg C until 2030.

    That is what the data says!

    Who are the deniers of the evidence?


  25. I am a Denier! I deny the existence of Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Peter Pan, The Chupacabra, Mermaids, werewolves, goblins, and vampires. Oh, and, uh,…. also that a trace gas is going to boil us all in the near future. Call me crazy.


  26. I haven’t been a subscriber to SA since the days of Martin Gardner , but it has been sad to see it , like so many formerly prestigious institutions tarnish itself with this anti-science .


  27. James Hansen, Stephen Schneider, Rajendra Pachauri, Al Gore

    Let see.

    James Hansen man were the sixties good to this guy.

    Stephen Schneider he still has Micheal – please don’t sue me – Mann hockey stick on his web page.

    Rajendra Pachauri, Rail road guy , novelist oh please.

    Al Gore enough said.

    And he tries to say there is something wrong with my thinking. Bloody h***


  28. What is ingenuous or simply stupid about the term “stasists” is that it is the climate warming group that is seeking to keep the climate in stasis. They appear to hate change.

    Does he not know what the word means?

    Realists know that the climate is constantly changing, up and down, so we should be called “DYNAMICISTS”. We are not afraid of change . . .


  29. Only came across this about midnight May 14-15.

    Ome of the first bits I saw:
    “… those like Bjorn Lomborg are happy to see any number of policy responses but only after the damage of climate change is more evident.”

    You, sir, apparently have never even watched a YouTube video of Professor Lomborg. For years, he has been saying we should start IMMEDIATELY. Just not on such stupidities as the “Kyoto Protocol.”

    This CO2 destruction is dated, being from 1990 – and the BBC at that! – but you nay start with


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