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The New Denialism
The New Denialism
In "An Inconvenient Truth" Mr Gore alluded to the contemptible incipient switch among the denial industry to jump from you haven't proven that anything needs to be done" to "you haven't proven that it isn't already too late" without passing through any position that something must be done.
Denialism does not have as its purpose a denial of warming. It is the denial of necessity for a policy.
Its weapon is diversion. It diverts the conversation to minutia of the science. Its objective is to divert the scientist from summarizing the situation effectively, to divert the casual reader from making the effort to understand, and to leave the casual reader with the impression of a subtle controversy even where the facts are entirely clear and rather straightforward.
Among its tactics is a reliance on the good nature of the scientist, who loves to make every effort to explain and explore scientific knowledge, and in many cases believes himself or herself obligated to do so.
These tactics can smoothly be shifted from the "no proven need" to "no proof that it isn't too late". What is being denied isn't the science. It's the need for a policy. Poking scientists is just a tactic.
The fossil interests have little choice in this matter; they will act this way to defend their interests. It will be very hard to prove in court that their intent was malicious. Seen this way, they are protecting shareholder value. It would be good if we lived in a world where power centers limited their tactics by making moral judgements, but we are so far from that point that it seems a forlorn hope.
In the real world, unless we can come up with a policy that protects the interests of the fossil fuel entities, they will continue to actively confuse the public discussion. I think the "clean coal" alternative is something that needs to be actively pursued and even subsidized. It is a failure of policy when a significant constituency is motivated to lie to the public.
Meanwhile, anyone with any sense of decency should eschew this sort of propaganda work. A soup kitchen line has more dignity.
Of course it's always hard to prove whether any individual is dishonest or merely misguided. A scientist always wants to give the benefit of the doubt to the misguided. It's important, though, to notice that this kindness of disposition toward the misguided is consistently abused by the malicious.
Important, accurate and well written thoughts, IMO.