(Nederlandse versie hier)
When I ask my wife what kind of tea she wants, she often replies “anything but green”. (I have gradually learned to then refrain from saying that green tea is good for you). Likewise, an honest “skeptic” would reply to the question what causes global warming, “anything but CO2”. After all, that seems to be the red line in their thinking. Whereas liking green tea or not is a matter of taste, attributing part of the current climate change to CO2 is a matter of science (and that’s a different cup of tea alltogether).
That of course gave rise to a whole range of other names for so-called “skeptics”, which better describe their attitude. But the fact is that in the public discussion they are still best known as “skeptics”, which is why I use that name. Besides, some other names that have been suggested, such as denier, can be offensive because of their association wiith some black pages of history. Contrarians, denialists, delayers, are other terms being used. But what’s in the name.
Of course it’s not all black and white. Someone who is critical of certain aspects of climate science, can actually contribute a great deal to the field. As long as (s)he adheres to the scientific method and does not go into a knee-jerk “anything but CO2” mode. Some scientists, who were once skeptical, now turned “skeptical”, and their scientific opinion seems to be set in stone, unchangeable by evidence to the contrary. Many more scientists who were once skeptical have over time become convinced by the accumulating evidence for human induced climate change. And of course there are still scientists who are sincerely skeptical. However, they are at least as rare as the “skeptics”.
There are a number of vocal “skeptics” out there who don’t appear to be the least interested in increasing scientific understanding, but rather in promoting a political agenda. They distort and abuse the science in order to use it as an argument for inaction. They are often linked to right-wing think-tanks and some of them were also involved in trying to halt anti-smoking regulation by arguing that negative health effects of smoking were not proven. Any public statement they make about science is accompanied by a statement in favor of laissez faire politics. Their opinion about climate science seems to be driven by their political opinion, rather than vice versa.
Unfortunately, they have been hugely successful in stalling meaningful regulation, despite their relatively small number. Through their anything-but-CO2 attitude, they have made themselves irrelevant to the scientific discussion. However, we keep hearing from them via the media, who provide them with a platform to sprout their disinformation, as if they have anything useful to say about climate science. Wouldn’t it be better if reporting about science reflects the current scientific knowledge? Would it make sense to keep hearing that there is no causal relation between smoking and health (despite mounting evidence to the contrary)?
Ideological “skepctics” are cheating. It would be better if they backed up their political opinion with their real arguments, rather than presenting pseudo-scientific nonsense as as reason. If there were no greenhouse effect, there would be no life on Earth. Deal with it.