Year 2, Month 1, Day 31: A Taxonomy of Stupid

In the Missourian, David Rosman takes on the people who hold up recent heavy snowfalls as proof that climate change is nonexistent. It’s a good piece, and triggered a somewhat longer response than usual. As far as I could make out, the paper has no length limits on LTEs, so I’m up around 200 or so. This was a fun piece to write.

Climate change deniers have many fascinating ways to avoid confronting reality. A few hew to a form of Biblical literalism in which humans can’t possibly affect our global environment because — well, because God won’t allow it. Others make the argument from personal incredulity: “global warming isn’t happening because I don’t understand how it works.” A closely related approach is the argument from apparent contradiction: if it’s snowing in your neighborhood, then global warming is disproved. While the latter two arguments may be consistent intellectual stances, ignorance, as Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” once said, is not a point of view. And then there are the truly convoluted theories — avaricious scientists forming a worldwide conspiracy headed by Al Gore (or, as Limbaugh’s minions prefer, “algore”) in which every bike path, public transport system and solar panel is a step on the road to a Socialist New World Order. Next up? Compulsory Carbon Footprint Re-Education Camps for SUV drivers!

These notions fail Occam’s Razor, of course. The simpler explanation is the correct one: industrial civilizations burn a lot of carbon, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, and it’s warming the planet. A lot.

But since doing something about it would require adjusting our habits and reducing the profit margins of big oil companies, it’s easier to stay ignorant.

Our descendants won’t have that luxury.

Warren Senders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *