“The climate is not changing. The climate has always changed”
I’ve been paying close attention to the denial movement for almost a year know, and while I do not consider myself “the expert”, I believe I have more than a passing familiarity with not only the tactics of the deniers, but their language.
Like all subcultures, the “deniers” have a language all of their own with key words and phrases loaded with meaning.
“The climate has always changed”
Is really shorthand for:
“Clearly climate is magic. It changes for no reason, usually on a whim and we’ll never have a clue as to why. I refuse to consider these extraordinary weather events, because clearly that would upset me!”
“There is no consensus!”
Is actually short hand for:
“I’m comfortable with the idea that there is a massive global conspiracy and that scientists, governments, socialists, greens etc. are all after the loose change in my pocket. I prefer the opinion of unqualified journalists such as “Lord” Monckton. I really like his ties.”.
“It’s the sun”
“Perhaps I accept the theory the earth goes around the sun, but only if it is the primary driver of climate change…”
These simple mantras are repeated again and again (viz the comments on my blog).
Climate change: ungood
In a sense, the language of denial is a form of “Newspeak“, Orwell’s fictional language:
“…Newspeak is a fictional language in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The term was also used to discuss Soviet phraseology. Orwell included an essay about it in the form of an appendix in which the basic principles of the language are explained. Newspeak is closely based on English but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suits the totalitarian regime of the Party, whose aim is to make any alternative thinking—”thoughtcrime”, or “crimethink” in the newest edition of Newspeak—impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on. One character, Syme, says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
After all the logic and language of the deniers revolves around three simple arguments that are repeated ad museum but in different iterations:
- The scientists are wrong
- There is no evidence
- It MUST BE something else, a natural process
I’d note the mild panic that normally accompanies such statements.
After all, repeating these on a daily basis surely reduces one’s anxiety or growing realisation that; climate change is happening; it is happening faster than anticipated; will must likely profoundly impact our civilisation; engenders uncomfortable feelings of guilt, powerlessness and anxiety.
So how do they deal with this?
By using carefully chosen words, phrases and metaphors to inhibit their critical thinking facilities:
“Did I just hear the Arctic is melting faster than anticipated… well it is not melting But it has melted, it melted in the past therefore it is just natural! Now, what’s on the television?”
Honestly, I feel for these guys.
So here’s a little something to help our denier friends simplify the whole process: they need their own “Newspeak”.
By ridding language of such pesky words as “science”, “climate forcing”, “tipping points” and positive feedbacks” they never need confront uncomfortable facts.
The principles of Denyspeak and the English-Denyspeak dictionary
Denyspeak (deniers speak) is a simple language to learn, and I anticipate its rapid adoption across the blogosphere and then into the English language itself.
Anthropogenic climate change (ACC) = thoughtcrime
Bolt, Andrew = goodthinker; “One who strongly adheres to all of the principles of Newspeak. (goodthinked, goodthinking, goodthinked, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinkwise, goodthinker” (See also Monckton, Lord)
Climate change = ungood
Climate models = doubleplusungood
Climate Depot (blog) = two-minute hate – “Daily telescreen specials in which various elements of crimethink were packaged into a parade of horrible images and sounds, at which, the viewers were expected to boo, hiss, curse. and release any negative emotions upon.”
Coal = Doubleplus good
Denial = goodthinking
Evidence, scientific = crimestop; “The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short protective stupidity.”
Freedom, economic = free “…Only exist in the sense of “The dog is free of lice”. The concept of political freedom has been replaced by the word crimethink.”
Gore, Al = Goldstein; “The supreme enemy of the state. He was once a high-ranking member of the party, until he supposedly betrayed the party and begin engaging in revolutionary activities. He is the supposed head of the “resistance”. Goldstein is to Ingsoc what Satan is to Christianity… The embodiment of pure evil”
Hansen, James – Goldstein (see Gore, Al)
Heartland Conference (think thank organised conference questioning the science) = hateweek; “…Week in which Oceanian citizens all attend rallies and parades to inflame hatred of Party enemies and heighten their efforts on behalf of Oceania.”
Ice = good
Ice, melting = crimestop (see also “Evidence”)
Jones, Phil = Goldstein (see also “Gore, Al”)
Mann, Michael – Goldstein
Markets, free = free (see “Freedom”)
Monckton, “Lord” = goodthinker; “…One who strongly adheres to all of the principles of Newspeak. (goodthinked, goodthink, goodthinked, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinking, goodthinkful, goodthinkwise, goodthinker”
NASA = the resistance; “…The resistance was the revolutionary group which was supposedly led by the arch-traitor, Emmanuel Goldstein. There is some question as to whether or not this group actually existed. The novel seems to imply that the resistance was simply fabricated by the government, or at the very least, that the police had agents posing as real resistance members in order to catch possible recruits.
The only thing that is for sure, is that the party blamed every possible woe of society on this group. The resistance was blamed for spreading herpes, contaminating the water supply, forging government documents (which was the reason for so many “misprints” in the papers), abducting party members, helping to aim rocket bombs to targets on Airstrip One, and destroying industrial machinery. Every single thing that ever goes wrong is blamed on this group. For instance: Whenever the trains don’t run on time, it is said that the resistance has alter the train schedule … When a department does meet their production goal, it is said that the resistance has altered the original data, resulting in a over-estimation of production for that year.” (see also “Scientists”)
Orwell, George = “Who?”
Paleoclimate = memory hole; “…A system of pipes, similar to pneumatic tubes, which were used to destroy documents. A document stuffed in the memory hole would be conveniently whisked away to the furnaces below – quickly & easily wiped from history.
Queensland, floods of 2011 and attribution to climate change = thoughtcrime
Russia, fires of 2010 = memory hole; “…A system of pipes, similar to pneumatic tubes, which were used to destroy documents. A document stuffed in the memory hole would be conveniently whisked away to the furnaces below – quickly & easily wiped from history.
Sceptic = goodthinker (see Monckton)
Science = Thoughtcrime, (see also “Evidence” and “NASA))
Scientists = the resistance (see NASA)
Tipping point (concept feedbacks could push climate into potentially dangerous state) = crimestop (see also “Evidence”)
Vostock ice core = ungood
Watts up with that? (Blog) = blackwhite; “…the ability to accept whatever “truth” the party puts out, no matter how absurd it may be.”
Weather = weather; “…because they can always mention the weather, but not long term trends associated with climate change.”
How do I use Denyspeak in everyday thought and language?
The creators of Denyspeak do “not want people to be intelligent in multiple fields” thus there is no word for “science“.
However, to be effective one must internalize Denyspeak. Do not allow other forms of language to infect your consciousness.
Thus the sentence from a scientific paper:
“…Seasonal near-surface temperatures have increased in many regions of the World. Previous work has shown that this has led to rapidly increasing frequencies of very warm Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures.”
Can easily be translated:
By adopting the principles of “Deniers Newspeak” (Denyspeak) the average denier saves time, energy and the necessity of thinking.