This morning, on a friend’s Facebook page, I responded to a remark made by a man (a man I do not know) who peddled the notion that “no reputable scientist” (paraphrasing here because the whole thread has been deleted) maintains that climate change is due to human activity. Instead, he argued, the idea of human agency in climate change is one propagated by looney liberals out to make a buck. He cryptically crowed, “follow the money!”
I could argue that line of thinking – “follow the money” – about climate change deniers. Many who deny that climate change is real and that humans are a major cause of it do so because they have a financial stake in the kinds of businesses that contribute to climate change. To acknowledge that climate change is real would be to undermine their own livelihoods, to jeopardize their own pocketbooks. So, sure, let’s “follow the money” and see where it really takes us. That’s an argument, though, for another day and another post.
Back to his dubious claim that “no reputable scientist” maintains that climate change is caused by humans. First of all, (and I’m putting on my AP English Language and Composition hat – a hat I wear when I teach my high school English students how to argue), one should not use unequivocal and unqualified language – “no reputable scientist” – when making a claim like this because all I have to do in rebuttal is to find just ONE reputable scientist who does, and I can thereby shoot holes in the argument and call into question the credibility of the claim.
Anyway, I digress.
Well, it was obvious to me that this man was profoundly mistaken in his notion; likewise, it was plain that his argument was not credible (see my digression above). It also appeared to me from his other comments in the thread that he was ideologically bent in favor of our current president as well as being biased against logic and reason, so, in a sense, I should have realized that I would be talking to a brick wall; he really didn’t want to debate; no, he wanted to pontificate, to spread falsehoods, or rather “alternative facts.” I probably should have scrolled past his remarks because these days, in order to maintain my own sanity, I really do have to pick and choose my battles carefully.
But, I couldn’t let it go, and here’s why: I marched at the Women’s March last week, and in preparation for the march, I made a sign on which I listed the reasons #WhyIMarch. One of those reasons was for climate justice. The amount of dangerous disinformation, anti-intellectualism, and ignorance about climate change staggers and stuns me. And the repercussions from that ignorance are and will be monumental to the planet and to humanity. So, when I read the gentleman’s posts on Facebook, I could not let his outrageous comments pass. I politely pointed him to the Union of Concerned Scientists as I quoted from the site,
“The scientific evidence is clear. Within the scientific community, there is no debate. An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause.”
The gentleman on Facebook summarily dismissed my comment out of hand and immediately posted that he “didn’t see specifics or credentials”of the so-called “scientists” on the link I provided, so, according to him, the website, as well as everyone involved, was not to be believed. Instead, he brayed that it was another example of liberal lunacy – one in which tearful liberals get their knickers balled-up in a bunch.
For the record, when he resorted to ad hominem attacks, he’d already lost the argument. It was clear that he didn’t want to argue on the merits of his claim, nor did he want to provide or consider credible evidence. He wanted to call me names.
His dismissive response came within minutes of my post, certainly not long enough to peruse the site with any discretion. He should have taken a closer look. Here is the page that details the scientists involved; it lists each, and by clicking on each name, anyone could read a comprehensive biography of each scientist, including academic credentialing and field of expertise. The diversity of scientists is impressive, and their “absent” credentials are, indeed, towering. He didn’t bother; instead, he wanted to call me names.
Undeterred, my plan was to offer another example of stellar scientific research (yes, pun intended) and analysis and take him to NASA, but alas, the Facebook thread disappeared, so I did not have the opportunity to provide more concrete, specific evidence to support my position.
Still, I couldn’t let it go. And I won’t let it go. This is one of those lines in the sand – my line in the sand. Facebook-man is just one of millions who hold these views. I’ll continue to trumpet the truth whether he listens or not, “alternative facts” notwithstanding.
Climate change is real. Humans are the leading cause of it. Don’t take it from me. Take it from the scientists.