As a prelude to arguing that no significant action will be taken to prevent climate change taking place to a significant degree, and hence giving rise to serious consequences for human, and other animals, I am going to set down a taxonomy of climate change skeptics. It is not necessary to be a climate change skeptic to maintain that there is nothing to be done about climate change, but we would expect that all those who make such claim would have some beliefs in common with climate change skeptics, or at least might be expected to say that they do. For example, some who are in a position to take measures to mitigate climate that are against their own (sectional) interests, may hide behind climate skepticism to justify their inaction, even though this is not what they really believe. In any case, it seems that the most obvious justification for inaction over climate change is the denial, in one form or another, that it exists. So by “climate change skeptic” I am not referring to someone who simply denies that the climate ever changes - such a naïve view is hardly to be taken seriously – but to a variety of more or less well-articulated positions that can serve to justify inaction about climate change.
A climate change skeptic will therefor deny one or more of the following propositions;
NCS: The climate does change.
HC: Human activity has caused climate change.
GC: Increases in greenhouse gases causes climate change.
HG: Human activity has caused increases in greenhouse gases.
NL: The effects of increases in greenhouse gases are non-linear.
TP: At certain concentrations of greenhouse gases, tipping points occur.
This will do for the time being – I may well add to the list later. Climate skepticism about climate change in general, NCS, is not a defensible view, as I have said. However, the denial of TP is more plausible, more so that the denial of NL which is in turn more plausible than the denial of HG, etc., so as we progress down the list, climate skepticism becomes a more defensible view. In the posts that follow, I will explain what some of these terms mean, beginning with the idea of a greenhouse gas (undoubtedly familiar to many readers), in the next posts.