Jan 11, 2010

Climate Skepticism is Free Speech

I've been researching the global warming debate since April 2009. I'm still fitting together the pieces of this multi-dimensional puzzle. The big picture hasn't yet come fully into focus. But I am now certain of one thing. Climate change skepticism is free speech.

Some people disagree with climate skepticism. Good for them. But that doesn't give them the right to deny their friends, neighbors, or fellow citizens the opportunity to hear about it.

In democracies, various parties present their ideas and the public gets to choose from amongst competing analyses and visions. At election time, all who meet minimum criteria are allowed to participate - to argue their case before the electorate.

We'd take a dim view of any candidate who insisted that one or more of his opponents should be prevented from running for office.

But that is precisely the position of many who promote global warming theory. Rather than giving skeptics their turn at the podium, such people want to banish skeptics from the candidate's list. They say skeptics aren't simply mistaken but are equivalent to the most reprehensible amongst us - Holocaust deniers.

[Click for larger version of this screengrab of the first part of a
Boston Globe column by Ellen Goodman, dated Feb. 9, 2007.
The column no longer appears to be available online.]

They say skeptics are mentally ill. They call them "climate killers" and "the planet's worst enemies."

They describe skeptics as "heinous climate villains" and "bastards who are responsible for subverting public understanding of climate change."

They strive hard, in other words, to disqualify skeptics from the race itself - to convince the world that skeptics are too evil or unstable to even be permitted to take part.

Global warming proponents are, therefore, trying to cheat. Rather than competing against the skeptics on an even playing field, out in the open, so that the public can make its own decisions, they insist theirs is the only perspective that deserves to be heard, that anything else amounts to "subverting public understanding" - an Orwellian turn of phrase if ever there was one.

Not everyone who believes in global warming acts this way. But those who are appalled by such behavior need to speak up. Every time we hear the words "denier" or "denialist" in a climate context we need to distance ourselves from such pejorative, silencing language.

We need to declare, loudly, that all points of view have a right to be heard - that climate change skepticism is, in fact, free speech.


>> Why the Munk Debate proves the debate isn't over
>> If we don't agree, you're crazy
>> Bullies need not apply
>> Al Gore thinks your brain is too primitive