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I see very little wrong with the term 'denier' - because I feel that it is a good description.  Just one look at 'Watts Up With That' and you will see plenty of examples of contributors ignoring the scientific headline and picking on the equivalent of a classified ad in the back pages to defend their world view.  That is, plain and simple, denial.

In correspondence I've been referred to as a 'warmista', a 'scare-mongerer', a 'Goreite' and a 'watermelon' (a term coined, I think, by Dellingbole - meaning green on the outside and red on the inside).  In it's true context, denier is not as daft or as offensive as any of those terms.

The brilliant science communicator Richard Alley has just brought out a wonderful video series entitled 'How to talk to an Ostrich'. 'Ostrich' is the term for me - it is not too serious, yet descriptive.  I will use it in good humour.

James



Barker, Tom wrote:

> I can't remember who is was that said that once someone uses the word Nazi, they have lost, but I don't actually think it is true; it may be an expression of dismay. The collaborators were not necessarily Nazis; they made a political decision to side with them. Anyway, who are the 'nazis' here? To my knowledge, nobody has identified anyone as such. Certainly not the fossil fuel companies. They are merely ruthless and in a rut. Governments? I can't see any, even though I disagree with what many are doing. Let's not forget that the term 'denier' was not associated with Holocaust deniers until the 'deniers' started to object to it in that vein. I suggest it is the third of my groups who aligned the two. For the record, I am in favour of finding an alternative word, but I do not think we should be gentle with this third group. If we are, they have won another minor victory. 
> Apart from that I emphatically agree with Pete.
> 
> Tom
> ________________________________________
> From: North, Peter
> Sent: 18 May 2012 11:42
> To: Barker, Tom; [log in to unmask]
> Subject: RE: Is denial of climate change and of the Holocaust in the same category?
> 
> Perhaps some malicious deniers are more like those that said 'the world is flat' and persecuted Copernicus, misplaced and stupid, but also with bad intent.
> 
> But that’s not the same as those who systematically and aggressively waged industrial war against an entire continent to dominate it for a 1000 years, systematically and bureaucratically annihilating six million of their opponents who they classified as sub human, not to mention 20 million Russians.
> 
> In my experience, as soon as anyone calls anyone they disagree with a fascist or a Nazi, unless they really are fascists of nazis, then they have just effectively said 'I’ve lost the argument so I’m going to abuse you'
> 
> Those who sell their souls to big corporations and the oil lobby are charlatans, cheats and liars, but not the same as holocaust deniers.  I could go further: Bevan got into trouble for calling Tories vermin ....
> 
> On the other hand,
> 
> we have had expectations of chaos and extinction before – anyone remember Peak Guano?  I’ve got Famine 1975! On my shelf.  Can we not be open to the idea that all the scientific evidence suggests that things are very, very serious – but, also, that there might be ‘unknown unknowns’ out there that mean climate is not as sensitive to human interference, actually, than we currently believe?  Just as the population bomb didn’t go off because the green revolution bought us more time?
> 
> I don’t believe this, but I’m open to the idea that I might be wrong: I genuinely am.  I think we have a real problem, but I also know I could be wrong.
> 
> Remember, some scientists told us thalidomide was fine, don’t worry about DDT, etc. Scientists should be challenged by sceptics in a free society, not called holocaust deniers.
> 
> Pete
> 
> Peter North
> Department of Geography
> School for Environmental Sciences
> University of Liverpool
> 0151 794 2849
> 
> Building the Low Carbon Economy on Merseyside
> 
> www.lowcarbonliverpool.com
> 
> www.liv.ac.uk/geography/research/lowcarboneconomy/index.htm
> 
> Local Money
> 
> http://greenbooks.co.uk/store/local-money-p-320.html?osCsid=53cafffb104745d08678d499c824626e
> 
> ________________________________________
> From: Discussion list for the Crisis Forum [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Barker, Tom [[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 17 May 2012 22:23
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Is denial of climate change and of the Holocaust in the same category?
> 
> Maybe what's missing here is a further distinction. There are deniers, or denialists or contrarians; there are sceptics; and there are those whose motives are pernicious to society because of their ambitions who in my book, if we are using Holocaust references, are more akin to Nazi collaborators. I suggest it is the third group who voice their objections to being associated with Holocaust denial (though apparently the term preceded WW2). Why should we accommodate their 'views'?
> 
> 
> 
> The first group are normal people who may be intelligent, thoughtful and discerning, but who cannot bring themselves to belive that humans have caused climate change. This may be because of what friends or people they respect have told them, or what they have read and gelled with in the press. I count a good friend of mine in this group; he won't even read anything on the subject that might threaten his preconceived views, even though he is a perceptive and critical thinker.
> 
> 
> 
> The second group include scientists who may, like Svensmark, be wedded to the clouds and galactic cosmic rays hypothesis, perhaps to the exclusion of sound reasoning. They are trying to make a valid point, and even if we disagree with them, point out clear errors, and may try to prove them wrong, they deserve respect for putting their doubts into a real argument.
> 
> 
> 
> The third group contains people who work hard, for whatever reason, to distort the truth by selective presentation of information.  They write reports that take scientific conclusions out of context, present incorrect information as fact, and introduce the whiff of doubt when none exists. They unfairly criticise the science for political gain, and seek to delay scientific and political progress for their own ends, be they financial, political or delusional.
> 
> 
> 
> We can be nice to the first group, though maybe try to introduce them to reality.
> 
> We can be nice to the second group, but should present robust arguments to dispute their position, and lay bare the scientific facts for broader scrutiny and evaluation.
> 
> We do not have to be nice to the third group. They are cheats and liars and they do not deserve gentle handling from us. They certainly will take any advantage they can find to disrupt the scientific and social process of learning to live with and mitigate against the impending impacts of climate change. Their influence may cost millions of lives and thousands of entire species. We should be open in our condemnation of them, and there is no basis for mutual respect.
> 
> 
> 
> Regards, Tom
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________
> From: Discussion list for the Crisis Forum [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of George Marshall [[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: 18 May 2012 10:06
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Is denial of climate change and of the Holocaust in the same category?
> 
> Yes i see your point Alastair, and no disrespect intended to Quakers...sorry if I was rude.
> And maybe this noble tradition makes dissenter a good term too- especially for Americans-because
> the main reason for using it is to make it clear that this is a difference based on ideology and belief (with much the same instinct to distrust the establishment and mainstream).
> 
> I like contrarian and use it myself, though I don’t see it as particularly respectful either...it suggests people who take the contrary position for the fun of the argument, which is a fair enough decription but not something I expect that they see as respectful
> 
> X
> G
> 
> From: Discussion list for the Crisis Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Alastair McIntosh
> Sent: 18 May 2012 09:55
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Is denial of climate change and of the Holocaust in the same category?
> 
> Speaking as a Quaker, George, and having been raised in a Free Church of Scotland community, I see dissention (i.e. from the monopolies of the Established churches of Scotland and England) as a rather noble thing, though always, of course, with a large tranche of cranks and tending towards cultic psychology at some of the edges. My preference has to use the term “contrarian” as somebody whose view is contrary to the mainstream, but while suggesting an edginess, is not disrespectful.
> 
> Alastair
> 
> From: Discussion list for the Crisis Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of George Marshall
> Sent: 18 May 2012 09:14
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Is denial of climate change and of the Holocaust in the same category?
> 
> Dear all
> I have long had an interest in this terminology- we know that communications is no just about the language used, but as much about the wider frames that this language triggers. Clearly the term denier is an powerful use of framing- it is a legitimate word to use in this context and it has this wider resonance with the holocaust deniers.
> 
> I am unsure though about whether this framing is useful: on the one hand the metaphor for refusing to accept very strong evidence is effective. However the association is also insulting to people who may not accept climate science but are very far indeed from racist or far right politics. I also feel we have a responsibility to respect the memory of the victims of the Nazi’s by not cheapening the specific historical circumstances of their suffering by bandying terms around. Although denial has widespread use to describe a psychological syndrome, the compound climate + denial does have a resonance with Holocaust + denial. But it’s a borderline case, and I am undecided.
> 
> On the other hand the word ‘sceptic’ is hardly value neutral either- it too has the deliberate and very comms savvy intentions of conjuring deeper frame of scientific caution and  balance. Considering the history of climate change contrarianism I wuld not be surprised if it was not created by a PR company.
> 
> So if it is a choice of two biased words I always go with denial.
> 
> Of late though I have been using the word dissenter. It is less specific than denier. Although it contains some reflection of legitimate intellectual independence its religious history carries a resonance of ideologically driven and extremist outsiders who are motivated by their right to hold divergent beliefs. I think it is a fairly good compromise.
> 
> Views?
> 
> George
> 
> 
> From: Discussion list for the Crisis Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Northcott
> Sent: 17 May 2012 15:56
> To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Is denial of climate change and of the Holocaust in the same category?
> 
> Thanks Torsten for a very interesting post. There are important differences between holocaust deniers and climate change deniers. The holocaust happened in or near German and Polish towns and cities and was organised on the whole by Germans albeit with collaboration by citizens and officials in occupied Europe and sometimes even by Jewish officials and Jewish prisoners. Most of the collaborators subsequently claimed they did not know what happened in the camps. So did most German citizens, such as churchgoers at a church located over the road from one German death camp.
> 
> These people were in denial about a present event albeit an event even the Nazis attempted to hide at the time and at the end to obscure from the Allies when they blew up the gas chambers.
> 
> Others since have denied the extent of the Shoa or even that it happened at all. These deny an empirically well evidenced past event.
> 
> Mass human extinction from climate change is a potential future generation event. Present generations are not intentionally planning or organising such an event. There remains uncertainty over human impacts from climate change and it is conceivable with appropriate migration policies that human brings in destabilised ecosystems could be accommodated elsewhere.
> 
> It is true there are now migrants from climate stressed regions on the Mexican and EU borders but the connection between migration and climate stress is hard to prove scientifically whereas connections of migration to US and EU policies on such things as dumping subsidised foods on foreign markets, or fisheries policies, are easier to evidence, although this does not change the general unwelcome of 'economic' migrants.
> 
> In sum it is very interesting to see a holocaust survivor compare the two kinds of denial but the comparison obscures genuine differences between the events and the plausibility structures which surround them including not least the temporal one. The comparison is also inflammatory and likely to enrage climate change deniers who might be amenable to more reasoned arguments about prudential action to reduce atmospheric pollution, or the just claims of migrants or future generations.
> 
> It would be reasonable to talk of the actions of say Peabody Coal in harming the unborn or young children with avoidable atmospheric mercury pollution, or Shell Oil in harming the millions affected by extensive multi-generational oil pollution of the Niger Delta as evidencing clear moral culpability though again neither can be called genocide (the intention to kill a specific ethnic group.)
> 
> Thanks for the welcome distraction from exam marking!
> 
> Professor Michael Northcott
> New College
> Edinburgh
> EH1 2LX
> UK
> 
> On 17 May 2012, at 16:05, Torsten Mark Kowal <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
> Forumers:
> 
> What do you think?
> 
> Cheers from sunny Bolivia,
> 
> Mark Kowal
> Climate Change and the Holocaust
> “Deniers.”
> 
> The term itself triggers angry responses and, recently, it’s been used in a tumultuous series of climate change opinion pieces, responses and blog posts – now numbering in the hundreds – a recent focal point was an exchange in the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published under the title “No Need to Panic About Global Warming,”<http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204301404577171531838421366.html> an opinion piece signed by 16 scientists that appeared in the January 26th edition.
> 
> Even Physics Today, got into the fray, and published this on their blog recently: “Any time somebody publishes the words “denier” “climate” “Mann” “Santer” and “Trenberth” in an online article, they might as well be blowing a dog whistle that attracts a swarm of obsessive, inarticulate, scientifically-illiterate human comment-bots. They always say the same thing (probably cutting-and-pasting from elsewhere), bringing up Holocaust deniers “we’re not that” and Lysenko “yes you are”. This discourse is at the intellectual level of a playground. This is probably the first Physics Today article they have ever read.”
> 
> The comment reflects the undeniable fact that the term “deniers” has a direct association specifically with Holocaust deniers and captures much of the intellectual spirit and tone of this debate.
> 
> We are now painfully aware that the Holocaust deniers were dead wrong and that there was a planned systematic genocide.  But what about climate change deniers? Can we really compare the two, the Holocaust and climate change? Does this have anything to do with science?
> 
> I am probably one of the very few who can write with some authority on both topics.
> 
> I was born in Warsaw, Poland in May, 1939. The first three years of my life were spent in the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis developed their plans for systematic Jewish genocide. Before the destruction of the Ghetto in 1943, I was hidden for a time on the Aryan side by a family friend, but a Nazi “deal” to provide foreign papers to escape Poland resulted in my mother bringing me back to the Ghetto. Then a Nazi double-cross sent the remnants of my family not to safety in Palestine, but to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp as possible pawns in exchange for German prisoners of war. As the war was nearing an end, in April 1945, we were put on a train headed to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp further from the front lines.  American tank commanders with the 743rd tank battalion of the American 30th Division intercepted our train near  Magdeburg in Germany, liberating nearly 2500 prisoners.  Within the year, my mother and I began building new lives in Palestine.
> 
> I am now a professor of Physics, studying the causes of global warming. I have just published a book on the topic titled : “Climate Change: The Fork at the End of Now” (June 2011 by Momentum Press). I publish regularly in the Climate Change and energy literature, founded the Environmental Studies undergraduate program at Brooklyn College of CUNY and have taught Climate Change on various levels for the last 15 years or so.
> 
> The last chapter of my book is titled “The Future, the Past and the ‘Just World’ Hypothesis” where I make an attempt to understand the intensity of the climate change debates and try to answer the question, “Why do we tend to underestimate risks relating to natural hazards, when a catastrophic event has not occurred for a long time? If the catastrophic events are preventable, can this lead to catastrophic inaction?”
> 
> The Webster Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of racial, political or cultural groups”. There is no question that the Holocaust was a genocide. Genocides do not repeat themselves exactly. They come in different guises. Despite the deniers, it is straightforward to teach students to condemn the Holocaust, but it is more difficult to teach them how to prevent future genocides.  One of the most difficult parts is to see them coming. Despite the fact that Hitler published the first volume of his manifesto, Mein Kampf, in 1925, where he laid out his philosophy, he was, nevertheless, democratically elected as German Chancellor in 1933. Few people believed in 1933 that he would seriously try to accomplish what he preached or anticipated the consequences that resulted from his actions.
> 
> Predictions by the Intergovernmental Plan on Climate Change (IPCC) and most scientists, strongly suggest that we may be creating our next genocide ourselves; a “business as usual” scenario over the next 70 years (the expected lifespan of my grandchildren – my definition of “Now” in the book) will result in doubling of greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions at these levels would result in major extinctions around the globe, with more than 40% of ecosystems destroyed.  The belief that we are not part of the ecosystems is a dangerous hubris. We have just passed the 7 billion population mark and even if we take the 40% prediction with a large grain of salt, we are talking about the potential genocide of billions of people.
> 
> Arnold Toynbee wrote that civilizations die from suicides, not murder. Even if the predicted consequences of “business and usual” environmental scenarios over the next 70 years turn out to be wrong in some details and even slightly wrong in timing, it’s clear that once we pass a critical point in the ability of the planet to adapt to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, the consequences amount to global suicide – a self-inflicted genocide. We know what we must do to mitigate this possible future genocide, but we need our collective will to do so.  We can’t allow the deniers to win again.
> 
> Thank you for reading this and please let me know what you think.
> 
> -Micha Tomkiewicz