12 ways to deal with global warming believers who read Herald articles about how to deal with deniers

Yesterday the Herald published an article about ways in which to challenge climate change “deniers” at Christmas.

I was going to do a line by line smashing but just couldn’t be bothered, and then in my inbox this morning was this email from a reader.

Hi Cam/Whaleoil Team.

Not sure if you have seen this article yet.

Pretty intense. So I decided I would write a response. First I replied with reasoning why the argument in complete bogus, and topped it off by using the same logic to prove Santa Claus exists just to show how ludicrous it is.

If this article convinced anyone of man made climate change, it would equally convince them of Santa Claus.

My comments are the bold underneath.

1. Pick your audience

Most TCCDs will not change their mind. It’s cheaper – intellectually and socially – for them to stand their ground than it is to change their views. Actually, your arguing may even reinforce their beliefs.

But remember – you might convince their friends listening in.

If you follow the advice in this article your friends are likely to be convinced against you.


2. Find some common ground

Just because your TCCD thinks they know better than pretty much all of science, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. They value things and are probably well-intentioned at heart.

So try finding out what they care about: democracy or economics, knitting or veggie gardening. You may even have some shared interests. You’ll never get them to change their values, but you might be able to talk about climate change in terms of things they care about.

“Thinks they know better than pretty much all of science”, the classic straw man argument, where you change your opponents argument to something weaker so you can defeat it, generally because you actually have very little genuine argument to offer.

“Because your TSCD (Typical Santa Claus Denier) thinks they know better than pretty much all of science, then they must be wrong and therefore Santa Claus does exist”


3. Certainty isn’t the issue

Your TCCD may say we don’t understand the climate change with 100% certainty, so we shouldn’t do anything. They’re right about the first point, but utterly wrong about the second.

Climate science isn’t 100% certain, but neither is medicine, the law, child-rearing or pretty much anything else. We make decisions without certainty every day.

Complete certainty is pretty much never required for action.

Analogies are great for proving a point, but they have to be compatable. The certainty behind law and medicine is on a completely different level than the certainty behind climate change.

“Santa Claus isn’t 100% certain, but neither is medicine, the law, child-rearing or pretty much anything else. We make decisions without certainty every day. Therefore, Santa Claus is true”.   


4. Talk in terms of risk and inaction

Ask them this: “What’s worse, the majority of climate change scientists being wrong but we act anyway, or climate change deniers being wrong and we don’t?”

Challenge them to be specific, to go beyond vague assertions of terribleness or repeating empty tabloid slogans.

Most “TCCD’s” do access in terms of risk and inaction. From the lack of conclusive evidence and scientific consensus, then expecting us to change our entire way of life, setting our standards of living back half a century, there is no way in hell this “risk” is proportionate to what you expect us all to give up. To anyone logical, this makes no ground on making climate change a convincing argument

“What’s worse, believing Santa Claus isn’t real, and not getting any presents from him, or believing Santa Claus is real and therefore getting presents from him? Therefore, Santa Claus is real!”


5. Compare the risk to something more tangible

Do they trust doctors? Try saying: “So, have you ever taken a doctor’s advice, like if they recommended you lose some weight or get that weird growth biopsied?”
Doctors rarely guarantee that bad things will happen if you ignore their advice, but it’s pretty damned risky to gamble that they won’t.

Are we talking about doctors or climate change here? How the hell does this have any relevance to showing climate change exists or not? The certainty of a Doctor’s recommendation is in no way equivalent to the certainty of climate change.
“Do you trust doctors? Would you trust what your doctor says? If you don’t then bad things are likely to happen. Therefore Santa Claus exists”.

6. Speaking of doctors and second opinions

It’s not just one opinion here. Research says 97% of climate doctors believe the planet has a bad case of human-induced climate change, and the prognosis isn’t great.
While there is likely to be some wiggle room in the exact percentage, it’s fair to say that consensus is very high.
And if 97 (or even nine) doctors told you that you had life-threatening but treatable cancer, would you act? Or would you keep looking until you found one doctor who told you not to worry about it, that the cancer isn’t serious, and that it’s all just a medical conspiracy to sell you chemotherapy?

Again with the doctors. Taking the argument away from climate change and putting it into a completely irrelevant analogy which has no actual links to climate change. What are you proving? The statistics you’ve promptly found on google could be equally matched by statistics found on google showing the opposite. The fact is there is no consensus, there is doubtful evidence, and a large portion of early climate change scientists have now pulled a U-Turn on early hypotheses.
“If 97 Doctors told you that you had cancer would you act? Therefore Santa Claus must be true”.

7. The TCCD with an inkling of scientific knowledge

This trickster knows not all scientific discoveries were immediately accepted by mainstream science. Plate tectonics and the Earth orbiting the sun leap to mind.
While scientific mavericks are few and far between, they do exist. But simply being a maverick doesn’t make anyone right. Most of the time it just makes them wrong.

Again, how is this relevant? The “TCCD” isn’t the one with the radical “discovery”, the climate change scientists are.
“Not all scientific discoveries were immediately accepted. However, this does not mean all assertions are going to later be accepted. Therefore Santa Claus exists”.

8. Wait for them to say ‘It’s all a big conspiracy’

There are those who claim climate change is the lab-coat version of the John F Kennedy assassination or the moon landing “hoax”.
The idea of an international conspiracy across dozens of disciplines, hundreds of institutions and thousands of individuals is honestly laughable.
If the world’s climate scientists were so good at conspiracy, they’d be better off using their astounding Machiavellian skills to rig an election or clean up on the stock market.
Also, anyone who actually uncovered such a scam would win all of the Nobel prizes at once.

Again, this does very little to argue that climate change exists.
“The idea that Santa Claus is told to children all over the planet, with 1000s of movies made about him, and heavy featured throughout Christmas means it cannot be a conspiracy! Santa Claus must really exist!”

9. Climate scientists are in it for the money

Have you seen the pay scale of a typical research scientist in Australia? Tell the TCCD to go to any university car park and count the luxury vehicles parked near science buildings. They won’t even need all their fingers to keep track.
A related gem is the line that Al Gore and co. are doing this because they invested in renewable energy companies and want to make money.
Okay, what makes more financial sense?
1. create a bogus scare requiring a global conspiracy of academics and scientists and grand appeals for huge amounts of controversial and untested R&D in countries all over the world and then wait for that to gain traction in financial markets and eventually drag in wads of cash.
2. invest money in existing, lucrative and proved enterprises today and cash in right now.

Scientists that seek to disprove climate change are not in high demand. Does the UN sponsor “climate change sceptics”? Are government’s spending our money to hire scientists that will disprove climate change? I haven’t seen many cases of either. If a government decided to do the reasonable thing of sponsoring researchers to give climate change a fair trial, by paying researchers to be sceptical, you and the rest of your Green mates will be marching to the doors of Parliament.
“Santa Claus gives his presents out for free, he is not in it for the money. Therefore Santa Claus must exist, and we should pay lots more taxes and the government should invest that tax in companies Santa Claus owns large portions of shares in!”


10. Why pick on climate science?

The odds are they will happily accept – even applaud – any science that isn’t climate change related.
Ask them if they accept gravity, nutrition, internal combustion engines or maths? If they say “yes”, probe them on why climate science is different. If they say “no”, back away slowly.
Interestingly, TCCDs often endorse mitigation options that support business-as-usual use of fossil fuels, even while asserting human-induced climate change isn’t happening. That’s a fun little “gotcha” if you’re in the mood.

This is a terrible argument. Believing in gravity, nutrition, internal combustion engines or maths does not validate climate change any more than it validates believing numerology or any other pseudo-science.
“Do you believe in gravity, nutrition, internal combustion engines or maths? Therefore, you must believe in Santa Claus, and he does really exist”.

11. Scientists don’t actually want it to be true

Challenge them to find a single, legitimate source that shows a bona fide climate change scientist who is happy about what they are finding and what their findings mean.
We’ve been working around such folks for years and have not even heard of one. Seriously, not one.

How about we access the wealth gain of Al Gore and Co due to their “Climate Change”, and tell me they aren’t happy about what they claim to have found. Regardless, this does not validate Climate Change in any way.
“The scientists saying Santa Claus exist, are not happy that he exists. Therefore this could only mean that Santa Claus does exist”

12. CO2 isn’t a pollutant

This is another claim touted by TCCDs – that CO2 itself isn’t inherently poisonous. It’s important for plants so therefore it can’t be bad.
Their underlying logic is that you can never have too much of a good thing – ask them if they realise that’s what they’re arguing, then give them your best scornful school teacher stare.
Too much of anything can be dangerous, hence the phrase “too much”. You can even be killed by drinking too much water.

Yes but “too much” is a variable amount. We know drinking enough water that it kills us is too much, but drinking 2 litres a day will not kill us. We know having large amounts of CO2 in a small room will kill us, we do not have conclusive evidence that having only a fraction of that on our planet is doing any harm.

“Too much of something can be dangerous. Therefore, if you do too much of something Santa Claus must exist”.

I cannot understand how a “reputable” newspaper can publish this nonsense. What a joke.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.