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On climate change and free speech


November 15, 2017

This article is written in response to an article by Lauren Simenson, titled “Publishing opinion pieces denouncing climate change can be damaging.”

So we’ve gone over the cliff I had hoped to avoid. One side is denouncing the other, in this case, I’d say without causation. Target one, me. Target two, a New York Times columnist. Now, I find the comparison of myself with the New York Times journalist flattering. I thank you for that. However, side stepping around the accusation that we’re climate change deniers is just plain insulting and dishonest, despite clearly implying it.

Why do I take issue? Simple, I don’t deny that the climate is changing. As I pointed out in the original piece, global climate averages have always changed, long before any industrial revolution. I don’t think it’s any stretch of the imagination or assumption that the change we’re seeing is any different.

So the question then becomes, why don’t we hear more about the counterclaim? Two reasons.  Political leftism has adopted climate change as a pseudo religious banner. The zeal which is turned on those that disagree is staggering. Two: there is little money in making that claim. The gross value of funding is exorbitant, in favor of supporting man-driven change. If it comes to the point where man is proven to be a minor power influencing the change, the money would dry up.

Another major issue, Simenson pushed unsupported alarmism. “The reality of what is actually happening is often much worse than what scientists are measuring.” This is laughable, when you do not use specifics. Alex Jones, crazy as he is, at least offers something in support. As well, an article came to my attention recently that many major scientists have come out and said that the models predicted more than was observed in 144 studies of 117, on average of twice the experienced warming. That is not insignificant. The article is found in Nature.com.

To summarize, the claims are broad, preaching catastrophe. Nothing is specific, tangible or offers a realistic solution. I would label this alarmism.

A loose point I failed to explain clearly is the equivalency between Holocaust denial and alleged climate change denial. It’s simple: declaring someone to be a denier gives reason to ignore the arguments they represent. The second someone says the Holocaust didn’t happen, the rest of our eyes glaze over like dead birds. We won’t accept their answer, as the mountain of proof is incredible. That doesn’t work here, though, for it’s not well known what is driving the change.

While perhaps some of man’s activities have contributed to the change, it’s foolish to say the science is settled when it most certainly is not. CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas, sure. Now explain why its levels are disconnected with temperature rises and falls. The net growth of ice in Antarctica. The halt in the warming for a number of years. These do not add up favorably towards any single conclusion.

Another point, food for thought: would anyone reading this prefer a degree of warming, or that of cooling? Warming means more arable land, in the northern reaches of the world, while cooling means less. One of many benefits of warming. It’s not so clean cut that warming will lead to catastrophe. There are benefits man can take advantage of, and should. Research will continue towards electric cars, green energy, nuclear power, batteries and further efficiencies. However, the time has not come that these technologies have reached the point where they can stand alone in the market and outcompete fossil energy.

Most of Simenson’s piece is laughable, but when she touches on the freedom of speech, the subject turns deadly serious. Paraphrasing, she questions when free speech become dangerous speech. I’ve heard such equivalencies before, with the left going after hate speech, something protected under the First Amendment as defined by the Supreme Court.

Here again, to their chagrin, we’re protected. This is a dangerous subject matter, because if skeptics could be silenced here, could Pro-Lifers be silenced? The ADF? A hard line should be taken in support of freedom of speech, for there are reasons these fundamental protections were put in place. Just as easily, they can be turned on opponents. Look no further than the senate, where the removal of the filibuster by the democrats has now backfired.

Now, if we’re wrong, provably, then our points should be able to be countered. That’s not the case of what’s occurring here though, or generally occurs anywhere for that matter. All too often it’s pitchforks and mobs, with force or pressure being the weapons instead of reason. Altering the bounds with which freedom of speech stride is a good pathway to tyranny. Only ask any of the nations that felt the oppression of those in power. From the communist and socialist murderers to King George III, destroying the ability to speak freely on any issue is a matter of liberty. This is no exception.

Jack Romanik is a student at UW-River Falls.