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Ellen Goodman Declares: Global Warming Deniers on Par With Holocaust Deniers

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I guess it had to happen sooner or later, what with the hysteria and all. When a doomsday scenario like apocalyptic global warming gets put out there and the Left hitches its wagon to it, if wagons don’t soon thereafter replace deadly emissive automobiles as the primary mode of transportation, the Left will throw out some pretty injudicious rhetoric.

Take Ellen Goodman, for instance, a nationally known, long-time columnist for the Boston Globe. She’s always been basically a standard-issue liberal, given to not unpleasant anecdotal dawdlings, nothing too radical, just the usual stuff which, while debatable, is generally within the mainstream.

But change the subject to global warming and the formerly rational pundit goes enviro-cuckoo. Witness her column of February 9, 2007, which was her response to the latest global warming report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It starts out sane enough with a couple of mildly amusing paragraphs about buying an environmentally friendly light bulb and mentioning the planet-friendly Prius that she drives.

But then she suddenly careens out of control:

“I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

Holy smoke! Or should I say, holy carbon dioxide emissions! Global warming deniers are now equivalent to Holocaust deniers? Ellen, honey, are you sure you want to stand by a statement so egregiously outrageous that by all rights your writing career should be finished (though of course it won’t be since when it comes to well-meaning liberals, any statement, no matter how outlandish or illogical, can be gotten away with)?

Personally, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for a retraction, or even a clarification, of her truly unhinged assertion. Therefore, the best thing to do is expose it for the illogical buncombe that it is.

So, her basic position appears to be that either you believe in global warming and its worst case potential consequences with the fervor and absoluteness of a snake-handling Pentecostal fundamentalist or you’re a slobbering, inbred global warming denier on a par with a Holocaust denier.

Well, guess what? In reality, it isn’t quite that cut and dry. There’s a whole range of skeptical beliefs that don’t neatly fit into Goodman’s one-size-fits-all, global-warming-deniers-are-scum box. But since she is either clueless about the many nuanced positions or just didn’t feel like trifling with them, allow me to elaborate:

1. Some people believe the planet has warmed, but human activity has had nothing to do with it.

2. Some people believe the planet has warmed, but human activity has had only a little to do with it. Within this grouping, various beliefs are that the majority of the warming is due to a) ceaseless natural climatic cycles that occur on a regular basis and will eventually lead back to cooling; b) ceaseless solar activity cycles that occur on a regular basis and will eventually lead back to cooling; c) some combination of a and b; d) some other poorly understood or unknown factors.

3. Some people believe the planet has warmed and human activity has had a moderate amount to do with it. Within this grouping, various beliefs are still that the majority of the warming is due to a) ceaseless natural climatic cycles that occur on a regular basis and will eventually lead back to cooling; b) ceaseless solar activity cycles that occur on a regular basis and will eventually lead back to cooling; c) some combination of a and b; d) some other poorly understood or unknown factors.

4. Some people fall into either 1, 2 or 3 from above and believe the warming will remain minimal enough that it doesn’t matter.

5. Some people fall into either 1, 2 or 3 from above and believe that while the warming may become significant, there is nothing we can do to stop it.

6. Some people fall into either 1, 2 or 3 from above and believe that while the warming may become significant, the only way to stop it would be to cease modern civilization as we know it, which they find unacceptable.

7. Some people aren't sure what to believe, but are confident that whatever happens, mankind will adapt to it just fine.

People’s beliefs about global warming could be broken down into even further categories, but the main point should be obvious. It's not as cut and dry as either you believe or you don't and the ones who don't are on a par with Holocaust deniers. There are all sorts of variations, gradations, classifications and subgroupings that apparently eluded Goodman’s thought processes as she composed her columnar study in comparative deniers.

Which reminds me… aren't liberals the ones who are usually all about endless, hair-splitting nuances on every issue? Aren’t they the ones who always tell us that it’s never as simple as black and white, right or wrong, good or evil, you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists? Aren’t there always multitudinous shades of gray to be endlessly debated? So where are the nuances on this issue? Why is it that either we go on a crash diet of civilizational deprivation or we’re all doomed?

Goodman did happen to stipulate that while global warming deniers are on a par with Holocaust deniers, “one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.” Exactly! And, ironically, that’s the key to the absurdity of her entire thesis. It is totally outrageous to deny something from the relatively recent past that is as well-documented as the Holocaust, and such denials naturally lead one to question the motives of the deniers. On the other hand, skepticism about bug-eyed predictions of a future doomsday scenario should be chalked up to good old-fashioned common sense.

In other words, the two aren’t even remotely analogous.

But wait a minute, says Goodman in her column. “The certainty of the human role” in global warming “is now somewhere over 90 percent. Which is about as certain as scientists ever get.” Sure, and 30 years ago scientists said that a new ice age was imminent. I don’t know if the probability at that time was calculated to be 90 percent, but here’s how one disquieted scientist put it:

“We simply cannot afford to gamble. We cannot risk inaction. The scientists who disagree are acting irresponsibly. The indications that our climate can soon change for the worse are too strong to be reasonably ignored.” The only thing he left out of his hyperbolic statement was, to deny global cooling is on a par with denying the Holocaust.

There have been doomsday scenarios throughout recorded history and obviously, none of them have come true. That’s one of the reasons why it’s not an ignorant thing to be skeptical about this latest one, no matter how many scientists support it. And the fact is that most of those whom Goodman refers to as “deniers” would be more accurately described as “skeptics,” and even then their skepticism is not so much about the actuality of warming as it is about the degree of warming and the supposed apocalyptic consequences.

Besides the insult to our intelligence, comparing global warming skeptics with Holocaust deniers is pregnant with accusatory moral implications, but the comparison itself is the thing that’s shot through with intellectual and moral shortcomings. People who deny the Holocaust are generally anti-Semites and are therefore immoral people. Those who question apocalyptic global warming scenarios, however, are mostly expressing healthy skepticism about the predictions of a notoriously inexact science which is prone to gross error.

When someone like Ellen Goodman comes along and flippantly compares the two, you know the Left has completely flipped its wig over global warming.

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  • timer

    Climate change is a scientific issue. If you don’t think the science is there to support a conclusion that human activity is changing the climate, then there’s nothing anyone can write here that will change you mind. I know that much.

    There are opponents for absolutely everything. But let me just take exception with one thing:

    “There have been doomsday scenarios throughout recorded history and obviously, none of them have come true.”

    No one is calling climate change a “doomsday scenario.” A doomsday scenario is a very large comet hitting the earth.

    The Spanish Flu of 1918 wasn’t a doomsday scenario but it killed an awful lot of people. A significant sea level rise and changes in climate patterns have the potential of killing many people as well but it’s not doomsday. Humanity will survive.

    You can, for instance, be a skeptic on avian flu and say it will never morph into a pandemic. There are skeptics on that issue and they may be right. I’m sure there would have been skeptics on the Spanish Flu right up to its arrival.

    There are plenty of climate change skeptics and you are one of them. It’s a big liberal conspiracy afterall to gain control of the political structure by spreading fear. That makes a lot more sense then the shared consensus of thousands of scientists who actually think that human activity may be influencing climate.

  • Citizen Joe

    Looks like big government and big business are at it again.
    At least now we can get some use out of all those fallout shelters we dug in our back yards in the 50’s. Heck,some are still stocked,all we need to add is some of that “pure mountan spring water” to the larder.
    Question—how long do you figure I’m gonna need to keep my head underground ,,,until this global thingie blows over?
    Seriously folks,,for or against the global warming scam,get a life.
    The debate on global warming will end one way r another,,depending on whether big business can make a profit,and governments can tax it.If they can–it exists,if they cant–you are all full of “hot air” (pun).
    Citizen Joe
    T.E.HARLEY,SR.

  • Aku

    “That makes a lot more sense then the shared consensus of thousands of scientists who actually think that human activity MAY be influencing climate.”

    Heck, you an throw me into that MAY pot. There are just too many times during human history when it was much warmer than it is now and it was impossible for humans to effect the change.

    The Romans grew grapes in areas of England it is now impossible to grow them because it is too cold. Similarly, archaeologists have found evidence of limited viniculture from Viking-era Greenland, where, again, it is impossible to grow grapes now. The Chinese records from before 200 AD show elephants, rhinos, tigers, and other tropical animals had ranges in places where it is too cold now to support them. I have yet to find any convincing evidence, including the most recent report from the UN group, that man is the root cause of warming.

  • Aku

    “There have been doomsday scenarios throughout recorded history and obviously, none of them have come true.

    No one is calling climate change a “doomsday scenario.” A doomsday scenario is a very large comet hitting the earth.”

    SO predictions of world famine are not “doomsday” enough for you, nor are predictions that the Gulf Stream will slow or stop, producing a new Ice Age? These are doomsday enough for most people, even if they are not for you.

  • Bill Malkin

    It is not a doomsday scenario simply because it can easily be avoided. All it takes is (a) People to accept the fact that scientists know more a lot more than they do, and (b) Governments work together to put in place the fairly basic and relatively inexpensive changes required to reduce carbon emissions. (These changes are calculated to cost each US citizen, for instance, no more than an average of $350 per annum.)

    Of course the only people who lose out on this are (a) those associated with fossil fuel based companies, and (b) those who cannot recognise trends. Smart people who get into renewable energy production will do very well. The fossil fuel based companies, in a similar way to the cigarette companies, will battle against this until they disappear.

  • http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1034077.cms Global Warming Expert

    I personally don’t think that it is an argument purely for science.

    Lets assume that the earth is 24 hours old for arguments sake. And you have 1 second of data which has an error or say 1 unit. If a group says that there is a change of 1 unit and makes predictions about what will happen in the next 20 seconds do you believe them even if they say they have the very best models of science?

    How often do you turn on the news and find out that they get the weather wrong … again. The weekly forcast is rarely ever correct. Yet we are meant to believe “climate change experts” forecasts for the next 50 years.

    They were wrong about the “man induced” global cooling 50 years ago which was going to cause huge starvation and the start of an ice age and now they are sure that it is global warming.

    Would you want these people as stock brokers investing your money?

    I think not you would be very poor very quickly

  • Leslie Bohn

    Mr. GWExpert:
    Yes, Al Roker’s wind chill predictions missed the mark by a couple of degrees yesterday.

    Hence, scientists are wrong about global climate change.

    Your idea of what scientists do and how science works is naive and indicates you have little understanding in this area.

  • Joyanne Hammond

    Could it be Goodman’s analogy was simply an ‘attention getter’? Most good writers are good readers. I am sure another read of her article will make it clear to you what she is really saying. You can see more of my thoughts at peacockeye.blogspot.com

  • Scott

    And some believe that global warming isn’t really the problem as much as it is a global humidity increase.

    How do we stop Global Wettening?

  • Greg Strange

    #8 Joyanne:

    No serious columnist would present an illogical analogy simply as an “attention getter” unless they made it clear that they were exaggerating for effect. I see no evidence in Goodman’s column that she was anything but serious.

  • David

    I think it’s great what Ellen said. Who cares if it hurts the feelings of a couple lunatic fringe climatologists?
    Protecting the feelings of a tiny minority of maverick scientists is just not worth it. Think about what is at stake here.
    There needs to be a paradigm shift in society and if it takes a little name calling and public humiliation of a couple out-on-a-limb folks, then so be it.
    It’s not like they’re going to jail or anything.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Look folks,

    The real bogeyman here is not “global warming” or “global cooling.” And it should be borne in mind that even a chatterbox yenta like Ellen Goodman needs to fill up white space in a newspaper.

    The real bogeyman here is SUDDEN CLIMATE CHANGE. That is why anybody even pays any attention to all this stuff. Now, sudden can be defined in a number of ways, the most comforting being a century from now.

    But if the time frame reduces itself, and we see “condition Venus” in a matter of months or a few years, or going in the opposite direction, an ice age that will last for the next 100,000 years come in a matter of weeks, we will be getting one gut buster of a hit, and we are not prepared for any such blow.

    When we recognize that fear for what it is, we can all stop throwing statistics at each other like mashed potatoes in a food fight, and think of how we will survive as a species…

  • Bill Malkin

    Comment #6 mentions Global Cooling! For goodness sake, this was not proposed by scientists, it was only the basis of one pop science book! One or two “real” scientists then investigated this theory and discarded it.