Field of Science


What to Say to Climate Change Deniers

According to a New York Times editorial this week, out of around 20 Republican senatorial candidates "with a serious chance of winning next month," only one believes that humans are responsible for climate change.

(If this doesn't bother you, go ahead and move along. But know that you're making me sad.)

If it worries you that soon there will be even more people in the senate who believe that climate science is "malarkey," here is a handy toolkit of responses you can give to climate change deniers. Playing the role of the deniers will be actual commenters who posted replies to the Times editorial. (In the interest of brevity, most comments have been abridged.)
Global warming based upon man-made CO2 is a theory nothing more. Dems like any reason to raise taxes... [recommended 177 times]
Global warming is a theory, yes. So is gravity. In science, unlike in the rest of the English language, a theory doesn't just mean a guess. It means a principle that's supported by repeated testing and hasn't been disproven. I'm still pretty sure I know what will happen if I fall off a roof.
Those of us who choose to say - show us the data are vilified by the intelligentsia - the same group who mocked us over and over again throughout history for believing that the scientific method (not the preconceived notion method) is valid. [recommended 134 times]
OK! Here are some data.
- Thanks to fossil fuels, we've been putting CO2 into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. Since the 1950s, we've been able to watch carbon dioxide in the atmosphere steadily increasing.
- There hasn't been this much CO2 in the atmosphere at any point over the past 800,000 years.
- The average global temperature has also been steadily rising during the past 100 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls this change "incontrovertible."
- So has sea level.
- Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice is melting.
- And glaciers are retreating.
- These changes cannot be accounted for by a change in solar activity.
The climate is always changing over time. [recommended 8 times]
In the distant past, the earth has seen both prolonged ice ages and toasty, dinosaur-rific periods. But these temperature swings were not random. Scientists have connected historical temperature changes to shifts in the earth's orbit, changes in solar activity, and giant volcanoes. Over the past 2,000 years, temperatures have been pretty stable. This is the norm for an "interglacial" period, which is what we're in now. Evidence suggests that no point in the last 1,100 years has been as warm as the present day.

Additionally, we know that CO2 in the atmosphere warms the earth--the greenhouse effect is the reason we're able to live on the planet comfortably in the first place.

Is it possible that a mysterious geophysical phenomenon is causing global temperatures to increase in exactly the way computer models would predict based on the extra CO2 in the atmosphere and, simultaneously, the greenhouse effect has ceased to function normally? Sure. But if I walk outside right now and fall on my face, I'm not blaming invisible malicious elves. I'm blaming gravity.
Like many (most?) other people, global warming, man-made or otherwise is actually a positive for me. [recommended 4 times]
It must be nice for you not to care about mass extinctions. But you should know that global climate change, while increasing the temperature overall, will not affect every place in the same way. Floods, droughts, tropical storms, or heavy precipitation might be more frequent where you live. (Don't worry; Republican senator Jim DeMint is confused by this too.)
This is just a ruse by China, Russia, and other countries to economically weaken the West. [recommended 14 times]
Well, I admit I hadn't thought of that.


  1. thank you. I have a smart friend who is being very stupid about this very issue. You've done the legwork I needed.

  2. on a somewhat related note, did you see this article?

  3. Nice post. FYI, the best website I've seen for debunking the most common climate "skeptic" arguments is at - they seem to be pretty comprehensive and thorough.

  4. This is especially interesting in light of the impressive amount of natural disasters we've already experienced this year. Watching the slow progress of the flooding Mississippi is almost exactly like watching projections of what Manhattan will look like if the ice caps melt completely. Yikes.


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