Yesterday's article got a few comments complaining that I went too far when I wrote:
The first hockey stick was, probably correctly, viewed in some quarters as a real threat to the anti-science, anti-mitigation movement. These are immoral people. People who want the world to continue with unfettered burning of fossil fuels, endangering society. People who are willing to sacrifice the well-being of their fellow human beings, their children and their grandchildren and all future generations. Their motives were various - some did it for ideological reasons. Anthony Watts did it because he didn't want to pay tax. Others dispute climate science arguably because that's what they are employed to do. There are dedicated denier organisations who pay people (and get freebies from more) to cast doubt on established science that they see as contrary to their aims. The backers of deniers probably also have mixed motives - pure profit for fossil fuel companies and ideology for others (rampant capitalism/libertarian anarchy gone wild). For some it seemed to be more personal - perhaps professional jealousy mixed with ideology.
There were protests by some people of the type "I am not a bad person" and that I shouldn't impugn motive to the ugly denier.
I've given some thought to those comments. My first reaction was to explain that I was referring to people who knowingly spread disinformation. That the "quarters" I was talking about were, for example, lobby groups set up to advocate on behalf of particular interests, which used disinformation propaganda as part of their strategy.
I was initially inclined to agree that most deniers don't know what evil they are doing. That there is a difference between the wilfully ignorant and the plain ignorant. That it's only deliberate disinformers who should be vilified. On further reflection I'm less inclined to be so generous. It's not that simple.
Someone who's never investigated climate change, who has vaguely heard that some people say it's a hoax or it's not that bad, and falls into the denier camp for no reason other than it suits their thinking is one thing. It's quite another thing when someone who's been posting for years on denier blogs tries to claim innocence through ignorance. Tries to claim that they are entitled to their opinion. Whines that they are not "bad" people.
Thing is, they aren't entitled to pretend their "opinion" is fact when it's not.
Neither career nor amateur deniers can claim innocence. I'm talking about the people who've been hanging about climate blogs for years. People who post several comments a week, sometimes several comments a day - protesting climate science.
These people have no excuse for denial. They are not unwilfully ignorant. These are the wilfully ignorant.
If reading passages like the above makes committed deniers uncomfortable - then good. It should. It might mean that they have some sense of morality after all. If they complain that it makes them feel alienated then that's good too. They should feel scorned by society. (It might prompt them to question their "beliefs" or it might not. That's not the point.) If they want to proclaim their innocence - it won't wash. They aren't.
Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of climate change is no excuse either. Most particularly for people who've been engaged in climate discussions for years.
That's all I wanted to say.
No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong [updated] - by Jef Rouner at the Houston Press