One of my hobbies is engaging in debates about climate change with random strangers on the internet. To a degree, it’s a little like this:

The reason I do it, though, is so I can provide careful, informative responses to denier rhetoric – not for the deniers, but for anybody reading who might be on the fence, or just confused.

In the last week, or so, in debating on a story about climate education, I’ve begun to notice a marked drop in the already small level of rational thought from the right wing.

It seemed awfully familiar, too.

For a while, the majority of denier arguments at least had some grounding in plausibility. Not much, and it was generally based on false assumptions and conspiracy theory, but looking back, it was almost rational. The trend I’ve noticed lately is that for some, any attempt at actually debating has gone out the window. The example that comes most clearly to mind is a fellow who repeatedly asks how Kyoto Protocol, ratified over a decade ago, will “solve” global warming. He ignores any answers given, and “claims victory” a lot.

And he’s harping on a “fix” that’s over a decade old.

I’ve seen this pattern before, in another branch of science denial – creationsim.

There’s a tendency, among most creationists, to not only have a fundamental lack of understanding of evolutionary theory, but to also, apparently, be several decades behind the times. Usually, they’ll concoct a nonsensical point of view to argue against, like the whole “747 from a junkyard” thing, but sometimes they’ll attack a problem that was addressed a long, long time ago.

It’s almost as if they don’t try to keep up with advances in evolutionary biology.

And of course they don’t – why would they? An integral part of their identity is tied up with evolution being wrong so there’s no reason to pay much attention to it.

Apparently, some climate deniers are doing the same, now, and it doesn’t work as well. The core of most climate denial is that the theory of anthropogenic climate change is, in fact, not a scientific theory – the data are flawed, or the models are inaccurate, or  it’s a conspiracy, or any of a number of other things, but it always comes back to the same point:

“I’ve read all the “science” you people claim is so settled, and I know better.”

It’s an argument that doesn’t work so well when it’s clear you haven’t read ANY of the science in the last decade.

The same mistake is made when they try to show that all the attempts at addressing the issue are either incompetent, or designed to enrich “the elites”, and honestly I think that is even worse.

Advances in technology in the last fifteen years have been stunning, and that includes alternative energy. We have fully developed plans for getting off of fossil fuels entirely. We have a growing number of homes that generate more power than they consume. We have companies saving millions of dollars by reducing their power costs, and generating a little of their own. Treaties like the Kyoto protocol are useful, but pretending that they’re the only card in play is a little bit like looking at your opponent’s hand and declaring victory because YOU have a king of spades, and your opponent has a ten of hearts.

If you ignore the  jack, queen, king, and ace of hearts that make up the rest of your opponent’s hand, you look like an idiot, and a desperate one at that.


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