Denialism, Fairfax style

Who are really the deniers here?

I don’t like Fairfax – you might have noticed that. I never buy the Sydney Morning Herald, or bother reading The Age or any of the smaller titles from the Fairfax stable. Their editorial offices made up their mind about climate change years ago, and nothing anyone says or does now is going to make any difference. Unfortunately, the Moonbat Herald is given away in so many places (because they aren’t selling enough, clearly) that some weekends, like this one, it is difficult to avoid.

So, faced with a copy, I opened up the Good Weekend magazine and was confronted with the picture shown on the right, with the headline “True Unbelievers”. In the article (which isn’t available online), it considers a range of subjects for “denial”, such as evolution (with which ACM has no quarrel), HIV-AIDS (ditto), vaccination (ditto), pointless dietary supplements (ditto), and lumps in with those, of course, “human-induced global warming”, which I have to admit, we have a teensy bit of a problem with. So, remembering always that this is viewed through the Fairfax prism, the introduction begins:

There is, in science, a sharp line between scepticism and denial. Scepticism is useful; it’s what makes science tick. A scientist never assumes anything; she sorts fact from theory by setting up hypotheses and testing them.

Denial is something else. Whereas a sceptic may doubt the theory, a denialist throws out the proof. Take global warming. One can be sceptical about the modelled consequences, or about the effectiveness of carbon trading, or about the altruism of AI Gore, but the evidence that humans are warming the planet is in. To contend otherwise is to deny the accumulated findings of sedimentology, chemistry, ecology, climatology, oceanography, marine biology, palaeontology, meteorology, vulcanology, astronomy, physics and geology.

Some scientists claim denialism is on the rise.

It’s not quite clear that it is – flat-earthers were pretty shrill back in Galileo’s day, too. What is confounding, however, is that denialist movements persist so readily in modern times.

What the author does here is brand anyone who disagrees with the consensus a “denier”, with no regard for the possibility that sceptics are indeed “sceptics”, and sets up a flimsy straw man to be hastily blown over on the next page. And isn’t it simply astonishing how the SMH can be so dumb as to mention Galileo within the first four paragraphs? In a primitive 16th century world of fear, ignorance, religion and witchcraft, only Galileo had the guts to stand up to the misguided (and ultimately wrong) geocentric dogma of the Catholic church and advocate for a heliocentric model of the solar system. Galileo was the sceptic of the time, the one that the article is attempting to smear. The Catholic church was the consensus. And he was imprisoned for it – plus ça change.

Anyway, that aside, the SMH then proceeds to recycle all the tired arguments about climate change that we’ve heard too many times before, using the same hysterical alarmism and derogatory language we have all come to accept – tobacco, DDT, etc etc – yawn (I’m not going to even bother rebutting the nonsense and spin presented here, I’m sure you can do it for yourselves by now):

Last year and the past decade were the equal warmest and warmest on record, according to NASA and the World Meteorological Organisation. But such minor details won’t sway climate-change denialists from their objectives, says Professor Peter Doherty, an Australian Nobel laureate. “Denial is driven by big business;’ says Doherty. “It started with tobacco companies fighting the evidence that smoking caused cancer, which is the first time that big business really felt threatened by science. Ever since, big business has learnt to attack the science and to attack the scientists.”

Doherty urges people to read Merchants of Doubt, a new book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. Climate change, the American coauthors argue, is merely the latest in a long line of issues where vested interests have engaged in the deliberate dissemination of scientific denial [you will note that they don’t mention the biggest vested interest of all, the global green movement, which has, over the past 30 or so years, been funded to an almost obscene degree by panicky governments the world over – Ed]. As the two authors examine various issues in turn – the threats of a nuclear winter, smoking, the accretion of DDT pesticide in the food chain, acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer and, of course, global warming – the same scientists and industry-funded think tanks grimly reappear. [Kind of like the late Stephen Schneider jumping on the New Ice Age bandwagon in the 1970s, only to alight at the early 1990s and jump straight on the Global Warming bandwagon – Ed]

Time and again these men – for they are mostly men, and rather old ones at that [WTF?? – Ed] – are appointed to high places to “fight the facts” in order to protect their ideology, satisfy their employers, confuse the public and delay government action. Hearteningly, in each case science eventually wins through, the world is impelled to act and – the proof of the pudding – the problem is either solved or abated. Curbs on nuclear proliferation, cigarette sales, DDT, sulphur dioxide emissions and CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) pollution have all helped make the world a safer, healthier place.

Similarly, very few scientists on top of their game doubt that a reduction in greenhouse emis- sions will help address global warming. Says Peter Doherty, “We need to beware of those think tanks that draw on the so-called expertise of retired scientists. In science, once you leave the field, you become redundant very fast. “You can remain generally supportive of science and back the consensus – that’s the dignified way to go. Or, you lose your relevance, you miss being up there in the public swing of things, and the only way to get people talking about you again is to take up a contrary position. You see it all too often.”

As a final flourish, it lists the global warming “denialists” – Ian Plimer, Tony Abbott, Steve Fielding, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Vaclav Klaus, Sarah Palin (natch), David Bellamy and “other retired scientists.”

But let’s just think about this for a moment. Do these people really deny that humanity has an effect on climate? I very much doubt it. They know as well as you or I that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause some modicum of warming. Their beef is with the catastrophic predictions of half-baked climate models. So what do all these people really want? What would, in all probability, satisfy all or most of their complaints (and mine for that matter)?

  • That science be separated from politics.
  • That climate scientists share their data with their worst enemy.
  • That people stop trying to convince us that the IPCC is an impartial scientific body.
  • That they don’t fudge figures, hide calculations, delete emails, corrupt the peer-review process, stifle Freedom of Information requests, hurl ad hominems about, and generally behave like errant schoolchildren who think they can do what the hell they freaking well like.
  • That supposedly impartial government bodies, like the parliamentary climate committee and the climate commission actually listen to dissenting views.
  • That there is open, impartial, honest debate about the certainties and, more importantly, the uncertainties in climate science.
  • That the AGW hypothesis is subjected to proper scrutiny as any other scientific hypothesis should be.

If this ever happened, I would be happy to quit blogging on this subject tomorrow. But it won’t. Fairfax (and the ABC, most of the mainstream media the world over, and most Western governments for that matter) doesn’t want that. They don’t want to hear any contrary arguments that might undermine their “faith”. They are the ones that have shut their minds to the possibility of any doubt or uncertainty on the part of climate scientists. In their view, the science is settled, and the debate’s over, right?

So who are the real deniers here? Is it the sceptics, who want to engage in debate, share data, scrutinise hypotheses and advance the cause of impartial and apolitical climate science, or is it the “consensus” scientists, who desperately want to shut their eyes, ears and mouth to any possibility of doubt? I’m afraid we know the answer. That image above is the Fairfax editorial board.


  1. It’s interesting to note how they think a retired scientist should behave. Be dignified, and just go along with the group. Don’t dare have a dissenting opinion, or you’re obviously some sort of loony.

    This whole article reeks of the standard methodology of the AGW alarmists. They don’t like debating with skeptics, so they merely label them with their own words, then attack that creation in order to appear to win the argument.

    It’s never been about trying to prove themselves right, it’s about trying to keep the ignorant/gullible masses believing they are right, so that the money keeps flowing.

  2. with tc joolya announcing the carbon tax this week, i suspect this is part of labors tactics to reinforce agw to the masses. my forecast model is predicting this type of aboreal media to continue for the rest of 2011…

  3. It is hard to know where to start.When people quote the flat earth bit with denial what they don’t seem to understand is that a flat earth was the consensus and then to go on and link Galileo with it just shows how uneducated the writer is but the general public would not notice that.
    As for DDT.It would be interesting to do a pole of New Yorkers to see how many would support the reintroduction of it what with their bed bug problem.

  4. The Loaded Dog says:

    But let’s just think about this for a moment. Do these people really deny that humanity has an effect on climate? I very much doubt it.

    I remember Andrew Bolt gave the analogy of the human effect on climate being similar to pissing in Bass Straight and expecting ice bergs to melt.

    Oh and Simon, don’t waste those Fairfax papers.

    They are fantastic for lining parrots cages; and if you must, they can still be read in place – the droppings don’t alter the context of the literature in the slightest.

  5. Paul Bennett says:
    • Paul, I don’t have anything against the Catholic church per se, but it took until 1992 for them to acknowledge Galileo was right.

      It was nothing to do with the earth being round – it was earth-centred vs sun-centred models of the solar system.

      I have never claimed they hanged him either – he was sentenced to house arrest.

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      What do you have against the Catholic Church who also denies AGW?

      Got some links re the Catholic Church being “deniers”?

      Is this their official position?

      If so I’m surprised the leftist media is not all over it; they would love to report on the “denialism” of the Catholic Church.

      PS no disrespect intended with use of the terms “denier” or “denialism” – as we know the term is used by Warmists to describe those who don’t subscribe to their religion and as such it should be worn as a badge of honour.

  6. In the United States, this has been third coldest winter in the Continental US in 30 years. Carbon Taxes are a ploy to make people like ALGORE wealthy, they will destroy the fragile economies of the G-*.

  7. Do what I do. Just don’t read it. They are alienating there circulation. One day they will be gone. At the current rate, with current editorial policies, it won’t be long.

  8. Fergus Velour says:

    Not the flat earth thing again. The earth was known by the ancient Greeks to be round. Aquinas and other Christian scholars described it as a globe from medieval times through to the middle ages. Columbus and Magellan had demonstrated it round before Galileo came to prominence. At the time of Galileo there were no flat earth proponents that we have any records of – if they existed they certainly were not shrill enough to be recorded for posterity. That the SMH’s writer used this demonstrates the standard of the article. BTW, I do read the SMH on weekends and I know journalists who work for Fairfax who are not supporters of the extreme anthropogenic warming position.

    • Fergus, with reference to your last comment, perhaps you can persuade some of them to speak out to their editors?

      • The Loaded Dog says:

        perhaps you can persuade some of them to speak out to their editors?

        I guess the journalists willingness to speak out to their editors would be proportionate to the value they place on their jobs; such is the CURSE of this movement.

      • Fergus Velour says:

        They do, but they are scientifically minded and their editors are not, and Fairfax now has a lot invested in ‘Earth Hour’ and being seen as green. I suspect the best you can get from them is “Saving electricity is really good, and less pollution from carbon is good, and new energy sources is obviously good too” and then, in fine print on page 20 “although maybe the whole AGW thing has been a tad exaggerated”. Like the govt, I think they might go along if they can save face.

  9. Nemo Stone via Facebook says:

    Right out of the Saul Alinsky playbook.

  10. Mervyn Sullivan says:

    What is the approximate amount of CO2 that human activity emits into the atmosphere each year? It’s estimated to be as high as 9 giga tons. Wow!

    The problem with that figure is that in the context of the total amount of CO2 that enters the atmosphere each year, from all other sources, particularly animals and bacteria, rotting vegetation, volcanic activity and the source that dwarfs them all, the oceans, it is totally insignificant. It is estimated to represent between half of one percent and up to two percent of the overall total. Statistically, that is immaterial… scientifically insignificant.

    Even if all human activity were wiped off the face of this planet, it would have no discernible effect on the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year.

    So, all this nonsense and concern about man-made global warming, and demonizing CO2, is much ado about nothing. Indeed, the benefits of CO2 far outweigh any negatives against this inert gas that represents about .00038% of the atmosphere.

  11. Interesting that the media magnates and government have jumped aboard the AGW train. Wouldn’t the mining magnates be their mates/sponsors?

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