In denial

On Sunday night I went to see Mark Watson's Earth Summit at the Soho Theatre, which is basically Al Gore's lecture from An Inconvenient Truth done with gags. Yesterday I wrote it up for Londonist. And this morning I got called "creepy" and "undemocratic" for using the phrase "denialists" in a disparaging manner.


This guy is a well known troll around Londonist parts (and one look at his username – no, I'm not going to write it here, Google being what it is – tells you where he's coming from), so I'm not going to respond. There, anyway.

Now. One thing the Mark Watson / Al Gore lecture does is look at all the articles published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals that mention climate change, and see how many disagree about its existence (its existence, not the extent or what to do about it). None. That's: none. Then, it looks at all the media articles written in the same period (this goes up to around 2006, I believe) that mention climate change and sees how many question the existence of climate change. It's something like 50%. How does that even work?* Radio 4 can mention, as an almost off-hand, matter of fact comment, that there's "dissent" among scientists (boy, did that wake me up this morning), and the Express can publish a deeply irresponsible and stupid front page claiming 100 reasons why climate change is natural (New Scientist have so far found the time debunk the first 50) and it's par for the course. It's though the media – like my troll – believe evidence itself is debatable.

Mmm. Sorry. No. Scientific evidence isn't like politics; you can't vote on which bits you like and which bits you don't. You can debate the implications of that evidence, but this is…

Oh, this goes back to why I like History. With Literature there is no right answer, there's only interpretation. With maths, there is definitely a right answer and woe betide you if you can't find it. I don't particularly like those two extremes of the spectrum (and I'm not very good at maths). But with History, while you can debate the extent to which, say, Tsar Nicholas II contributed to his own downfall, you can't dispute the actual existence of Tsar Nicholas II, or his removal, or his murder.

Well, you can, but you'd be an idiot.

These things are, as the Doctor would say, fixed points in time. They are facts. They are not up for democratic questioning. Capiche?

Back to climate change science. The scientists (you know, the respected ones) aren't in disagreement. These are facts: the earth is getting hotter, our civilisation isn't built to deal with it, we're going to be in trouble if we don't do something. But apparently it's "OK" to call this statement of facts "undemocratic", and "not OK" to call people who don't believe it "morons".

(Now, if my troll had called me disrespectful and snidey, he'd have had a point. And I'd have been fine with that. But undemocratic? Don't be a pillock.)

(I am creepy though.)

* I know how it works; the media attempts to bring 'fair balance' to an issue leads them to the doors of crackpots and maniacs, and also nobody ever sold papers by telling their audience they'll have to change their comfortable lifestyles or lots of people they couldn't give a toss about will die.


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