Although this post will focus on some of the things climate activists say, I don’t want anyone to imagine that it would be difficult to find similar statements from their opponents, the climate skeptics. I am focusing on climate activists because their tribe has immense influence in the media, the halls of power and on funding decisions for science. Because of this they should be held to a higher standard than their opponents.
Climate activists (whom I often label as members of a Konsensus, not to be confused with a very real if very narrow consensus on climate science) have not been temperate with their remarks. Their published statements show a complete willingness to abandon standards of fair play, ethics–even common decency.
Their anger is out of proportion to a problem that their own economists characterize as something that will bring economic costs of 5% of global GDP. Do you kill people for that?
The IPCC estimates sea level rise this century to fall between 26 and 98 centimeters. Does that warrant a statement like this from Dave Roberts of Grist?
“It’s about the climate-change “denial industry”, …we should have war crimes trials for these bastards – some sort of climate Nuremberg.“
The IPCC projects that strong storms–cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons–may become less frequent but more intense in the medium term future, perhaps beginning around 2040. Does that justify a statement like this from James Hansen?
“CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”
The IPCC offers a range of potential rises in temperature–from 1.5C to 4.5C. They don’t know where it will land. Computer models give a mid-range estimate of 3C. Observations suggest less than 2C. Does that normally give rise to statements like this one from self-styled climate scientist Michael Tobis?
“It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly fucking miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own fucking personal individual fucking self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance. You have a lot of fucking nerve saying you are on my “side”.
Unless and until you find it within yourself to understand that you have major fucked up, big time, by throwing big juicy meat to the deniers to chew on and spin paranoid fantasies about for years, even decades, I’ll take wild-eyed Frank who is inclined to start to hate me for exchanging a word with you, and gasbag Randy Olsen and the stunningly demoralizing Bill McKibben, and everybody, I’ll take all of them, on my “team” before I will pass the ball to you, because I have no way of knowing which way you will decide to kick it.”
“It would depend on the denier. Mad “Lord” Monkfish? Smack the silly twat upside the head until his eyes stopped popping out of his head. One of the Kochs? Shoot the fucker dead. Beating him to death with my hands would be more satisfying but pointless. Some random moron denier? Watch.”
Again, it would not be overly difficult to find incendiary language written by skeptics of climate change. But James Hansen is the former head of NASA GISS. Michael Tobis is a climate scientist.
Worse, these comments are not only common–they are pervasive. The level of vitriol and outright hatred displayed is not what you find on football blogs. It is more like flame forums on subjects like the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or the ongoing U.S. debate on abortion.
And yet this is a problem, as well described by the IPCC. It is not a looming catastrophe. If the Greenland ice cap does melt it will be 3,000 years from now before it is halfway done. It will take longer for the Antarctic ice cap. And that’s if global temperatures don’t… pause. Or decrease.
The very real and potentially quite serious problem of global warming could be addressed temporarily in the short term by adoption of the policies advocated under the rubric of Fast Mitigation, which would reduce forcings by 0.5C this century. This would give us time to address longer term issues with our fuel portfolio, allow development of the poorer countries on this planet and give technology time to come up with energy storage for renewables, higher efficiencies for solar panels and wind turbines and perhaps find a way to harness the power of the oceans.
We don’t need a shooting war.