I can’t resist writing about this because it’s jaw-dropping stuff for me. Dr Roy Spencer, a research scientist at the University of Alabama and a climate science contrarian, has written on his blog that,
“When politicians and scientists started calling people like me “deniers”, they crossed the line. They are still doing it…..I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”
A bit of background on Roy Spencer: he has a Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and he’s also a senior fellow of the Cornwall Alliance, a religious group which believes “God, the Creator of all things, rules over all and deserves our worship and adoration.” Roy’s views on religion can be read in full at The Evolution Crisis where he writes, “So, at last, I had to face the reality, based on all the evidence, that the basic tenets of Christianity were true, and that the gospel of Christ really changes people’s lives.” His views on climate change can be found on his blog that I’ve archived here.
“Finally, if the climate system is insensitive, this means that the extra carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere is not enough to cause the observed warming over the last 100 years — some natural mechanism must be involved.”
So back to the word “denier”. I don’t use it, not because I think it’s an offensive term, I really don’t, but because it seems to cause more trouble than it’s worth. Instead I use the word “contrarian” which so far no-one has complained about. But my personal view is that contrarian is somewhat offensive when defined as someone who takes an opposing view for no logical reason other than to be disagreeable. Whereas to me, denier is entirely appropriate especially given that the dictionary uses this as an example. If you type “define: denier” into Google and click on the second definition, you get this:
Yes, it’s true that historians who deny the Holocaust are also sometimes called deniers, but that does not mean that they have exclusive use of the word. Nor does it mean that someone who denies the science of climate change also denies the Holocaust and vice versa. Denier is a word that must be understood in context and like many English words, can have multiple meanings. If we precede the word “denier” with climate change then this puts it into context.
I get that people are offended by denier and so I use contrarian. But I think it’s a bit rich for someone, a Christian no less – love thy neighbour and all that – to accuse all the scientists, politicians, general public (me) in the world of being global warming Nazis and it is also incredibly offensive. And worse still, I now see contrarian blogs and contrarian commenters, who in my experience are all to quick to whine about things like denier, applauding Roy’s name-calling which is hypocritical in the extreme. This just confirms for me the pettiness and childishness of this entire story.