Pyrrhic victory: the death spiral of the denial movement

Over 600 fires still being fought in Russia*

It is far too early to declare “victory”, but its clear the denial movement is entering a death spiral.

Within a few years they will be a spent force.

I take no comfort in this: “winning” the climate debate is the ultimate Pyrrhic victory.

An article in today’s Age notes the recent conversion of some high-profile sceptics of climate change:

“…has a confluence of extreme weather (fire, floods, heatwaves, mud slides) and dogged science – sober, clear consensus statements such as that released yesterday by the Australian Academy of Science – finally outmanoeuvred the engineers of denial? Are we at a tipping point in terms of public comprehension of the climate crisis? In terms of campaign denialism, is the jig up?”

The article describes the about-face of one of the UK’s most prominent sceptics:

“Last week, the science editor of Britain’s proudly sceptical Daily Mail filed a long article from the Arctic under the headline, ”The Crack in the Roof of the World: Yes, Global Warming is Real – and Deeply Worrying”.

”I have long been something of a climate-change sceptic,” wrote Michael Hanlon. (One commentator describes him as Britain’s most influential sceptic.) ”But my views in recent years have shifted. For me, the most convincing evidence that something worrying is going on lies right here in the Arctic . . .

”I still believe climate change has probably been exaggerated, but after coming here it is impossible to maintain that nothing is going on…”

Sadly over the next ten years the impact of climate change will become even more noticeable, thus rendering climate change “scepticism” an untenable position – at least for politicians and business leaders.

The next phase of the debate will shortly begin: what are the most practical measures to reduce CO2 emissions; the allocation of resources to mitigate the impact of climate change and; how can the global community work together more effectively.

The cranks will still exist, just as there are those still denying the moon landing or the connection between HIV and AIDS. But they will be marginalised and have little influence. They’ll shout at each other and “alarmists” such as myself in forum discussions and blogs.

But as a political and cultural “force”, the denial movement is in a death spiral.

One would think I might gain a measure of satisfaction in saying “I was right!”

But I don’t.

As one of the posters on this blog noted in response to a “sceptic”:

“Oh klem. We’ve all lost.

You have no idea how much we all wish this wasn’t happening…”

I wish it was a hoax. I wish the scientists were wrong.

I liked the old climate better than the new one.

I will leave the last words to a former sceptic “Tom” who posted his thoughts in the comments section of the Age article:

I have always figured that the science of predicting the future path of climate change is always likely to be inexact, vague, and probably wrong in many aspects. Trying to model something as complex as the climate involves too many “unknown unknowns” as we simply have no data to guess all the intricacies of what might happen.

However what is clear to me now is that the real world evidence is mounting and I feel it is, as this article states, now undeniable that the climate is changing significantly.

I recently encountered my own shocking view of climate devastation. Last week we visited a Malaysian island we have been to many times, most recently before this only 10 months ago. We were horrified to find our favourite snorkelling spot has become a wasteland due to coral bleaching. A huge reef, with the most vivid, beautiful and rich eco-system has become a virtual desert in less than 10 months. The cause – warm waters leading to mass coral bleaching. One of natures tipping points once the water goes above a certain point.

It is impossible for me to describe how heart breaking this was to see – and how vivid an example this has become for me that climate change is real – and can have big impacts in amazingly short periods of times.

I’ve had to concede that this is real, and while I may have acted slower than many I feel that if I’m going to be able to conscionably look my children in the eye in future years I have to do what I can on this matter now. I guess writing this is my starting point.

There is no shame in changing one’s mind when confronted with the evidence.

We all have to start somewhere.

*Image sourced from Irish Times

4 thoughts on “Pyrrhic victory: the death spiral of the denial movement

  1. A beautiful article. Thank you.

  2. mrluigi says:

    Yes, I believe there is a bit of shifting of ground – some acceptance amongst deniers that climate change is indeed happening. But big hurdle No.2 is getting them to accept that it’s human induced and No.3 that something can be done about it. They won’t give up on those easily. Hopefully, so many of them have managed to get egg on their faces in the preliminaries (viz that climate change is real), no one will take much notice of their arguments from now on.

  3. Nick says:

    Yes,I look forward to the time when the deluded stop flailing about wildly attacking some of the groups that they formerly regarded as part of the fabric of able,functional societies. Sadly,climate change denial is often coupled with other hard-to-shift world views.

  4. […] Pyrrhic victory: the death spiral of the denial movement Watching the Deniers It is far too early to declare “victory”, but its clear the denial movement is entering a death spiral. Within a few years they will be a spent force. I take no comfort in this: ”winning” the climate debate is the ultimate Pyrrhic victory. An article in today’s Age notes the recent conversion of some high-profile sceptics of climate change: “…has a confluence of extreme weather (fire, floods, heatwaves, mud slides) and dogged science – sober, clear consensus statements such as that released yesterday by the Australian Academy of Science – finally outmanoeuvred the engineers of denial? Are we at a tipping point in terms of public comprehension of the climate crisis? In terms of campaign denialism, is the jig up?” The article describes the about-face of one of the UK’s most prominent sceptics: “Last week, the science editor of Britain’s proudly sceptical Daily Mail filed a long article from the Arctic under the headline, ”The Crack in the Roof of the World: Yes, Global Warming is Real – and Deeply Worrying”. […]

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