Global warming skeptics

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See Global warming skeptics (detail) for more information (and for history of this page).

Global warming skeptics is a term whose meaning has shifted; it has become shorthand for "opponents of effective action to limit greenhouse gas emissions". Thus it's now something of a misnomer: many of these opponents are not true skeptics,[1] plus many now accept that global warming is occurring. The term AGW denier is also frequently used, with AGW standing for "anthropogenic global warming." Those "skeptics" who accept that warming is occurring, when faced with incontrovertible evidence, now find refuge in the claim that it is "natural" and has nothing or little to do with human activities.

The use of the word "skeptic" is falling into disuse. According to Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, "We don't call them skeptics, because they are not putting forward alternatives ideas and having them tested in a peer review journals. They basically deny this problem."[2]

Original meaning

Originally meaning "climate change skeptics" or "anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming skeptics", "global warming skeptics" referred to those who are as yet unconvinced by evidence that emissions of man-made CO2 significantly enhance the natural atmospheric greenhouse effect.

Evolution of meaning

But with the accumulation of evidence[3] convincing the climate science community[4], there's been an evolution of inactivist arguments, often coming from the same person, starting with "Global warming's not happening", then moving to "we're not causing it", to "we're causing it, but it shouldn't be harmful", and beyond - with the single underlying constant being "there's no need to take effective regulatory action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions just yet".

Current meaning

So the term "global warming skeptic", as used at SourceWatch and elsewhere, has come to encompass any position within the umbrella group, "opponents of effective global warming action", where "effective action" entails putting a price on fossil fuel emissions, such that their true cost becomes clear and the economic "invisible hand" can wreak its market magic.

Not true skeptics

In this label, the term "skeptic" is a misnomer and a black eye on true skeptics[5], whose hallmark is that they haven't succumbed - much less, succumbed heart and soul - to confirmation bias.

Author Clive Hamilton, is his book Scorcher, says that one can find the following arguments in the various papers promoted by climate change deniers:

  • There is no evidence of global warming.
  • If there is evidence of global warming, then it is not due to human activity.
  • If global warming is occurring and it is due to human activity, then it is not going to be damaging.
  • If global warming is occurring and it is due to human activity, and it is going to be damaging, then the costs of avoiding it are too high, so we should do nothing.

Most Common Global Warming Skeptics Arguments

There have been hundreds of arguments[6] made attempting to refute the scientific consensus on global warming. These range from various levels of outright denial (such as "There's nothing happening", "we don't / can't know why its happening (it's too complex to understand)", "climate change is natural", "climate change is not bad", and "climate change can't be stopped") to philosophical, statistical, historical, scientific and pseudo-scientific arguments. A few of the most common arguments include[7]

  • The climate has changed before
  • It's the sun (not CO2 or people)
  • It's not really bad
  • The climate is cooling
  • There is no consensus
  • Models are unreliable
  • Temperature record is unreliable
  • Animals and plants can adapt
  • It hasn't warmed since 1998
  • Antarctica is gaining ice

All of these arguments have been refuted. Rebuttals to these arguments can be found at the referenced sites in this section.

List of global warming skeptics - individuals and organizations

List of individual global warming skeptics

A list of individual "global warming skeptics", or AGW deniers, would include:

Business Insider lists "The 10 Most Respected Global Warming Skeptics"[8]

List of global warming skeptic groups

"Global warming skeptic" organizations include:

Articles and resources


  1. James Hrynyshyn (2011-11-04). FTL neutrinos and climate change deniers (or why I call the latter PSEUDOskeptics) : Class M. ?. Retrieved on 2011-11-05.
  2. Jean-Louis Santini (September 2013). UN climate report will not sway US deniers. AFP. Retrieved on 2013-09-22.
  3. John Cook (2010-06-26). Empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming. Retrieved on 2011-04-04.
  4. John Cook (2010-06-22). How many climate scientists are climate skeptics?. Retrieved on 2011-04-04.
  5. Daniel Loxton (2009-12-22). What, If Anything, Can Skeptics Say About Science?. Skepticblog. Retrieved on 2011-04-04.
  6. Coby Beck. How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. Retrieved on 2011-06-22.
  7. Skeptical Science Top 10 Most Common Global Warming Skeptics Arguments
  8. Business Insider The 10 Most-Respected Global Warming Skeptics accessed June 22, 2011.

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

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