A VICTORY has been declared in the field of climate change but the lap of honour is not being run by research scientists or renewable energy bosses, or by coral reefs, drought-stricken farmers or the citizens of low-lying countries.
Rather, if you accept as valid this declaration of victory from one of Australia’s leading thinkers, then those popping the champagne corks are the fossil fuel lobby.
Standing by the track cheering this triumph, are the conservative think tanks and the free market ideologues that believe the world should be run on their terms.
To follow the analogy through to the bitter end, the losers are everyone else.
Professor Robert Manne, a political philosopher at La Trobe University, is making this declaration in a 7000-word essay published tomorrow in The Monthly magazine – its cover screaming “Victory of the Denialists: How Climate Science Was Vanquished”.
Manne’s essay charts the decades-long effort to spread doubt and confusion about the science of human-caused climate change, focusing on the think tanks and corporations that created and backed a “relentless” campaign in the United States which has infected other parts of the western world, including Australia.
Manne draws on already published books and research papers about the climate denial industry, and so in that respect close watchers won’t find anything new.
But it is his declaration that climate science denialists have won which will stick in the throat of many climate change campaigners and science communicators.
I asked Professor Manne why he had come to that conclusion.
I find it difficult to see how a reasonably objective observer could deny that this is what has happened–gradually at first but also dramatically since the end of 2009 due largely to the combination of the failure of Copenhagen and the impact of ‘Climategate’.
The victory I write about is limited to the United States, although denialism is an important and almost certainly growing movement in Canada, Australia and the UK.
If climate change denialists are pleased [by the conclusion] then they have chosen to ignore the explicit claim of the article that they are part of an irrationalist movement that is placing the future of the Earth at risk. The role of analysis is to be as faithful to the truth as one can be, not to boost morale or to support delusion.
For the denialists to be “victorious” they do not need to “prove” that global warming is a “hoax”. All they have to do is to “manufacture doubt”, that is to say to create a substantial level of public doubt about the solidity of the science.
According to Manne, President Barack Obama has been “nobbled” by the denialist campaign and the Republican Party almost “entirely converted” to denying the science.
Manne concludes in his essay that the success of the denialist campaign is one that subsequent generations will look upon “as perhaps the darkest in the history of humankind”. Continue reading “Victory Declared For The Climate Science Denialists”