Home » Anthony Frosh, Politics and Media

The Trivialisation of Denialism – Climate Theories vs. Holocaust Fact

July 15, 2009 – 11:08 pm9 Comments
Amazonian rainforest consuming carbon dioxide

Amazonian rainforest consuming carbon dioxide

By Anthony Frosh

In recent times, the climate change debate has become highly topical.  It wasn’t always this way.  The first time I ever heard about this thing called the “greenhouse effect” was in 1989.  I was in year seven and we learnt about it in school.  That same year I also read about this greenhouse effect in the newspaper and came across it in television documentaries etc.  Human combustion of fossil fuels created carbon dioxide, which locked in the heat from the sun, and this would lead to rising sea levels.  That is to say, this theory was taught and learnt as fact, without any scrutiny whatsoever.   Karl Popper would have been rolling in his grave.

I’m not here today to argue my own position on the veracity of anthropogenic climate change, and it would require a far longer article than I intend.  Nevertheless, for the purposes of disclosure, I feel I should give a brief outline of my views. I am a committed environmentalist (ride my bike to work, flush the toilet with water collected from the shower and the laundry, pay extra to get my electricity from renewable sources, don’t eat meat – but sadly fish remains a weakness; and unlike Kevin Rudd and Al Gore, I refrain from travel in private jets) who nevertheless remains sceptical of focus on carbon dioxide and anthropogenic climate change.  I think there are much clearer and present environmental dangers such as water pollution, particle-based air pollution, toxic contamination of soil from heavy metals etc).   To read what I believe is a good short article on the topic, you might like to read this.

Despite my scepticism, I am generally very happy about carbon dioxide reduction efforts.  Even if carbon dioxide is not the threat so many people claim it to be, the fact is that the burning of fossil fuels that produces carbon dioxide is frequently accompanied by various other pollutants; so reduction of carbon dioxide usually involves concomitant reduction of other pollutants.

The problem I have is with the term “climate change denialist.” This is a term that some proponents of anthropogenic climate change have linked with the term “Holocaust denialist.”   For example, as far back as early 2007, Ellen Goodman in the Boston Globe wrote

“I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

This type of nonsensical equivalence concerns me for two reasons.

Firstly, it is an attempt to stifle scientific argument by likening sceptics to Holocaust deniers.  Agree or vehemently disagree with the likes of Professor Ian Plimer (and I have mixed views myself), but likening him to David Irving or Frederick Toben is simply absurd.

Secondly, and what is particularly alarming, is that it may serve to diminish people’s perceptions of just how ridiculous, mendacious, and insidious Holocaust denial is.  It might send the message that denying the Holocaust (what ought to be an obvious undeniable fact) is not really that different to questioning a scientific theory, even one that makes predictions about the future.  And should anthropogenic climate change be revealed to be another Y2K (1990s), or fears about global cooling (1970s), then the term denialist will become far more trivialised than it already is.

Print Friendly