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.