Climate change deniers

What should we do with our growing awareness that we are altering the Earth's climate? Some think that innovation, especially in energy technology, will sort it all out, given some political will and an awareness that there is profit in it. This is more or less this author's line, although I also think that time is short and we ought to get going with more enthusiasm than we are showing right now. Another is to assume that we are helpless in the face of catastrophe brought on by the malign influence of international capital. This is a counsel of despair and is also untrue. But the most puzzling response to climate change is to deny its existence.

The terms of the debate have shifted radically in recent years. The minority of scientists who do not accept the general framework of global warming has shrunk. The firms that once resisted the idea in case it began eating into their profits have mostly realized that a change to new energy sources means new business for them. After all, it seems that we have used just about half of the Earth's readily accessible oil, so oil companies need to think long-term about diversification in any case. And at the same time, the effects of climate change, especially the general acceptance that it had a hand in the 2005 flooding of New Orleans, have got harder to ignore, and so have the costs. This has meant that a series of climate change denial organizations such as the Global Climate Coalition have lost credibility as well as funding from oil companies and others. Politicians may not do much about climate change but the era is probably over when they could claim it was a myth.

However, climate change denial lives on in a few places. Some scientists and enthusiasts like to claim that every unknown in the equations proves something is horribly wrong with our ideas, or insist that every new discovery shows that what we knew before was wrong.These folk are prone to one massive form of inconsistency, though. They often seize with glee on reports that climate change is a good thing. Although such change would be very damaging to the developing world, for example, there are occasional reports that it might have positive effects, such as making crops grow faster. Often the very people who say climate change is not occurring are the ones hyping up reports of this kind claiming that it is a good thing.