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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  • Rod

    I challenge climate change believers not to wait for the government, but take positive steps themselves. If they have a big car, I suggest they get a one litre model. I ask if they have a vegetable garden, to become as self sufficient as possible and minimise shipping food all over the place. Don’t drink wine, I say, fermenting fruit produces greenhouse gases. There are more weapons in my arsenal, but the above will suffice for here. They back off pretty quick.

    • burns_well_eh

      Rod, that isn’t how it works. The changes have to be made by OTHER people.

    • OneTrack

      I’m waiting for the Greens to sail in the SV Vega to the next climate change junket, I mean conference. But no, Kennedy Graham and co. jumps in the big white bird and burns his tons of CO2 to tell the peons that the planet is burning, it’s critical and that we shouldn’t fly in big white birds. A similar comment applies to Lucy Lawless.

      Four legs good, two legs better.

  • El Diablo

    You only have to look at Point 6 to know this article was garbage. The 97% consensus claim has been thoroughly debunked.


    These biased, misleading, and totally irrelevant “surveys” form the best “evidence” global warming alarmists can muster in the global warming debate. And this truly shows how embarrassingly feeble their alarmist theory really is.

    • RM

      Yes the 97% is a joke much like their cooked graphs and charts based on computer modelling. Anyway at one time 99.9% of scientists believed the earth was the centre of the universe with the sun, planets, and stars revolving around it. They also had the ‘science’ to to prove it. Science is not a democracy – .01% can be right and the rest wrong.

    • burns_well_eh

      Yet the warmists spout that figure regularly and try and shut down the debate by saying “the science is settled – there is no disagreement now”. Actually mate, there’s a lot of disagreement – have some of this!

    • axeman
  • I.M Bach

    “I cannot understand how a “reputable” newspaper can publish this nonsense.” They didn’t…it was in the Herald.

  • ex-JAFA

    Lol, from the Horrid article, “disagreements like this aren’t resolved by barrages of facts and figures”. Obviously not, or the warmists would’ve shut up long ago.

    • Eddie

      “this article wasn’t written with barrages of facts and figures [just those we cherry-picked]” could apply to much of the Herald prose.

  • Des Marshall

    UN-Co have already pilfered trillions of dollars from this farce, where has that money gone? What has been achieved so far by all his scare-mongering? What do they actually expect us to do about Climate Change? Personally I’m looking forward to a few “catastrophic climate-related events” they sound awesome.

    • ex-JAFA

      They’re just sitting on the money for now, waiting for the sun (the big shiny yellow thing, not the newspaper) to give its bank account details. It’s terrible how a celestial object can hold us all to ransom like this!

  • MrBarrington

    Bah… the climate changes naturally… is it warming, is it cooling? I would much prefer to live in a warmer, wetter world that a colder, dryer world any day…

    Because that is what you get.. wet/warm and cold/dry…

    Frankly I wish there were more beavers and squirrels around… because they are just the latest species to be identified with the ‘horrors’ of global warning…

  • JJ

    Of course the Herald just copied it from the Conversation – that is funded by a curious assortment of Aussie organisations (http://theconversation.com/au/partners ), most of whom should know better.

  • burns_well_eh

    Some of the reasoning to prove Santa Claus exists is a bit hit and miss, but point 8 nails it.

  • I’m always reminded of this picture.

    I don’t doubt that climate is changing, it’s always changing, always has changed.

  • sheppy

    I usually ask them where the Dinosaurs hid their CO2 producing V8’s or what caused the medieval warm period. If I’m still awake I then ask them to explain the mini ice age when they were skating in the river Thames in London.
    All things which have to be removed from the computers to make the models fit.
    Another one is why don’t the models take into account changes in output of the sun

  • Eyeknownothing

    The words ‘herald’ and ‘reputable’ in the same sentence?…isn’t that an oxymoron?!! Stretching it with the Santa Claus comparison but I get his sense of frustration with the dumb ass author of this ‘fantasy’ article!

  • mh

    “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?” – Yeah because there isn’t any demand from deep pocketed corporates for scientists who would stake there professional reputation on claiming that climate change is a hoax? A reason why it may seem that there aren’t many scientists who are trying to disprove climate change is the same reason there aren’t many adults who try to prove Santa exists.

    • Wallace Westland

      Those who have debunked the whole AGW gravey train are discredited by the main backer the UN (the largest recipient) and all their pet scientists. Those who work in the corporate sector are slandered as being toadys, all have funding pulled and/or can no longer publish and are generally hounded into obscurity.
      Anyone with half a brain can extrapolate that if the climate that was across the globe was tropical when dinosaurs roamed the earth and an ice age when Mammoths did then a bit of climate change probably occurs. Tell me…how does the A part of AGW fit into that that timeline?

      And what do you mean ” the same reason there aren’t many adults who try to prove Santa exists.”?
      He doesn’t?

      • mh

        The reason why most scientists don’t deny that man made climate change is occurring (you sound like an idiot among your peers) is the same reason why there aren’t many adults who try to prove Santa exists (you sound like an idiot among your peers).

        That wonderfully scientific mammoth and dinosaur analogy would be great if the warming hadn’t had occurred over time periods in the thousands/millions of years. I’d tell you to extrapolate out these NASA charts (http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ and http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/) but you’ll probably tell me that NASA scientists are being forced to claim global warming is true so that NASA can buy more rocket ships.

        • Wallace Westland

          Well of course I’m going to tell you that. They are the same people beholden to interest groups UN factions and are also in the grouping of people most unlikely to rock the boat. As individuals on nice little salaries they most certainly will tow the company line. That’s company with a cap C.

          Also your 2nd link doesn’t work and the first one says nothing I haven’t seen before.
          Although I am going to look at it in more depth cos I love this stuff and it’s a good link.


  • axeman

    Only the useful idiots like Wrongly Wrongson aka Bumber Badbury and a certain truffle farmer believe in that article in the ALARMIST NZ Horrid. Here’s some more debunking of The Great Climate Change Bamboozle Industry http://townhall.com/columnists/calvinbeisner/2014/12/22/the-great-climate-change-bamboozle-industry-n1934731/page/full

  • I will take the “consensus” on problematic AGW seriously when I can see the survey/s distributed to climate scientists, actively engaged in the question. I want to see if the survey is not loaded, and interpreted without bias.

    I doubt it so much. I smell a rat. Why?

    Because no one can have a legitimate opinion on problematic AGW until they have modelled and measured it. AGW is not a consensus – it’s a calculation. And so far the climate models have Failed. We cannot measure it. Not on the level we need to, to have a real opinion…or an opinion that could justify an alarmist response.

    I think we created the “consensus” specifically because the models (and therefore science) failed.

  • Check out the abstract below. It links from the referred to article:

    OF COURSE 97+% of scientists agree that AGW in itself exists – to *some* degree.

    ‘Problematic’ AGW is what we are after! That has always been the real question.


    We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors’ self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.



  • LesleyNZ

    The NZ Herald must already be on holiday and so they have to fill their columns with something, even if it is hot air nonsense.

  • All_on_Red

    I see they link to Sceptical Science run by the ex cartoonist John Cook. He’s been caught lying so many times it’s laughable. Amazing.

  • Backdoor

    And how many articles have been disseminated in peer review journals claiming that fat is bad and that we should eat margarine instead of butter? And now we are being told that the medical profession got it wrong and margarine is worse for us than butter.

    Whenever there is scientific opinion we need to remember it is only opinion.

  • Fredd Dagg

    “… I cannot understand how a “reputable” newspaper can publish this nonsense. What a joke….”
    The Herald ceased being a reputable publication some time ago, around the time it went tabloid.

    Quite sad, like seeing a grand old lady forced to work the streets to survive.

  • Nick

    Replies to your replies

    1. Meh, you would say that.

    2. Is not an attempt to prove AGW, just a tactic for making
    the case.

    3. Again, not an attempt to prove AGW. Just making the point
    that nothing is certain.

    4. Firstly, how can you complain of a straw man argument,
    then go on to make one almost in the next breath. I would suggest that very few
    climate scientists expect us to change our entire way of life and to set our
    standard of living back fifty years. That’s only your incorrect interpretation
    or a deliberate distortion of proposed climate change solutions. Secondly, and
    more importantly, the climate change scientists have the data. There is no conclusive evidence, there can’t be. What they have instead is massive body of work which strongly suggest that the atmosphere is warming and that the industry of people is the cause. Where is the large body of peer reviewed, repeatable, testable and verifiable data from sceptics showing that human related carbon dioxide has no effect?
    Carbon has no effect? Prove it! – There are maybe 100 papers which cast doubt
    on AGW, while over 13,000 papers demonstrate otherwise. How could you sanely
    assess the risk and decide that there is no problem? And don’t complain about
    the process of science, peer reviews or a conspiracy against AGW scepticism, if
    you have the data, you will get your point across.

    5. We’re talking doctors and climate change here, and drawing
    a comparison. In a way, you may be right to question the equivalency of certainty between the two. Getting 97% of doctors to agree on a complicated case would be a rare occurrence indeed! The point here is that the questioning of experts, especially those with a bulldozer of evidence
    behind them, (climate scientists or otherwise) very rarely results in new insights
    or understanding. In the end, there has to be some trust that science works, be
    it medical, physics, chemistry or climate change the truth will come out. And
    right now the evidence points to AGW. If the climate change sceptics think
    otherwise, take ice cores, take atmospheric readings, take temperatures-worldwide,
    form a coherent theory and publish. In peer reviewed journals. Don’t sit on the
    side line and take pot shots.

    6. You don’t like the comparison- fine. Don’t claim that
    there is no consensus though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Surveys_of_scientists_and_scientific_literature.

    7. Agreed, not a great point to make.

    8. Just making the point that there is no global conspiracy
    to promote AGW theories. Maybe think of it this way- in the end, if AGW turns
    out to be false, the climate scientists were fools, but honest fools.

    9. No the UN does not sponsor climate change sceptics for
    the simple reason that they have accepted global warming, based on the peer
    reviewed body of knowledge. Should they also sponsor research into theories that
    HIV does not cause AIDS? There is some scepticism on that front as well. If you
    want the UN to sponsor anti AGW research, provide the peer reviewed evidence-
    again and again and again. That’s what it takes. A body of evidence to be investigated further. In addition, they have given
    anti AGW proponents their fair trial right here in in New Zealand. NIWA were
    challenged the NZ Climate Science coalition. In court, where opinions mean
    jack, and where evidence counts NIWA won.

    10. I agree- advances in maths, technology and science do
    not validate AGW theories, but they do validate the scientific process.

    11. Who cares about Al Gore? What has he got to do with this?
    This point is about the scientists. Al Gore is a politician. If he made some money…fine. Good for him. Agree that this point doesn’t validate AGW in itself, but perhaps shows that the climate scientists doing the research are at least honest. If you believe the author I guess.

    12. Fair point….I guess we quibble over dosage and effect

  • All_on_Red

    The thing is the problem is that it’s really Catastrophic AGW which is what they promote but they only say AGW. There is a big difference between the continued warming of the earth at about .7 Degrees Kelvin per Century and the hyperbolic clams that the Earth will warm 4-6 Degrees K if CO2 doubles.
    Their arguments are disingenuous through the omission of this difference.
    There is no doubt the world is warming as we continue to warm from the Little Ice Age but there is also no doubt that the extra catastrophic trend has NOT emerged.
    Yet it’s the catastrophic numbers is what they promote.
    Also mankind has increased CO2 and CO2 reacting with water vapour does create heat. We also create heat through Urban Heat Island Effect ( cities using energy create heat to emit) deforestation altering cloud patterns etc.
    The real scientific argument is actually about what is called Climate Sensitivity and how much heat that extra CO2 produces .
    Science shows us that CO2 creates heat but CAGW theory postulates that due to a Positive Feed back that an extra process occurs which creates another reaction causing even more heat.
    This is the part which is disputed and unproven. The IPCC is the latest Assessment Review (2013) has broadened the band of Transient climate Sensitivity to 1.5-4.5 Degrees K. Quite a wide margin huh.
    There are now a large number of Peer Reviewed Papers indicating that TCS is at the LOWER end of the scale and is more like 1.3 Degrees K in warming for every doubling of CO 2 in our atmosphere . We are a long way away from doubling CO2 content. There is also the fact of natural variation in our Climate ( and weather) and the influence of ocean currents and cycles like El Niño and the Southern Oscillation, Pacific Decade Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation.
    Of course you won’t see dissemblers like those the Herald explaining this at all.
    Why is that?