The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to combat climate change. The stated goal is to keep global temperature increases ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’ with an aim of limiting the increase to 1.5°C. The agreement assumes that climate change is largely a result of human activity and that it is possible to halt it by the means of state intervention. It relies on forecasts from a body of alarmist scientists, who profits from the ever growing funding the climate hysteria has bestowed on them. Proponents of the agreement largely avoid discussions of the costs of attempting to achieve the stated goals – costs that are disproportionately borne by the developing world. This refusal to acknowledge both uncertainty about the cause and detriments of the effect is, in fact, the real climate change denial.
The climate change debate is normally contested between acolytes of the climate change consensus and those who believe it to be a hoax. In between these two extremes are positions of more nuance, but in the hysterical climate of political correctness characterizing the debate, even those holding a more nuanced position are ostracized. In such a scientific monoculture, the real climate change denial thrives.
Witness Matt Ridley, the British journalist and writer, who calls himself a ‘lukewarmer’. His position is that climate change is influenced by human activity but that it is not an immediate danger. Amongst climate change disciples, this position amounts to heresy. He merely points out such facts that environmental policies have increased fuel costs and led to job losses in the fossil fuel industries and that subsidies to bio-fuel has hiked demand for and hence the price of maize. These policy moves have real costs, disproportionately affecting the poorest in society. He also points to the wildly exaggerated claims from climate scientists in the past: ’In 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was predicting that if emissions rose in a “business as usual” way, which they have done, then global average temperature would rise at the rate of about 0.3 degree Celsius per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0.2 to 0.5 degree C per decade). In the 25 years since, temperature has risen at about 0.1 to 0.2 degree C per decade’. Drawing attention to such erroneous forecasts is enough to incur the wrath of the establishment.
Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish scientist, is another high profile sceptic. He achieved global notoriety for his book The Sceptical Environmentalist, because he, as the title suggests, did not join the choir of climate change acolytes but approached the subject with a degree of scepticism. According to Lomborg, ‘the climate impact of all Paris INDC promises is minuscule: if we measure the impact of every nation fulfilling every promise by 2030, the total temperature reduction will be 0.048°C (0.086°F) by 2100. Even if we assume that these promises would be extended for another 70 years, there is still little impact: if every nation fulfills every promise by 2030, and continues to fulfill these promises faithfully until the end of the century, and there is no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris promises will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17°C (0.306°F) by 2100.’ Statements like these have earned Lomborg the wrath of the science community – and of course the ‘denier’ moniker.
The climate change debate has long been emotional, political, hysterical and disingenuous. Labelling any dissenters as ‘deniers’ attempts to discredit them and absolves the climate change disciples from engaging with opposing arguments. The narrative of catastrophic, man-made climate change must remain gospel, giving politicians a cause to champion and scientists a reliable livelihood. The real scandal is that the public, who foots the bill of the climate change agenda, is denied a nuanced debate. This draconian ex ante rejection of any contrarian arguments is the real climate change denial.