No Evidence Will Convince Global Warming Deniers

James InhofeJonathan Chait brought my attention to some exciting news, Snowball-Chucking, Science-Hating Senator May Crash Paris Climate Talks. Yes, it’s our old friend James Inhofe — back in the news to bring the Truth™ to the people of the world. That Truth™ is, of course, that global warming is a hoax and that he can prove it because it snows in the winter. Inhofe is thinking of going the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, “I’ll repeat what I’ve done several times before, which is to go over and be the bad guy, the one-man truth squad, and tell the truth, that they’re going to be lied to by the Obama administration.”

This is sounding kind of hollow now. After all, it isn’t just Obama who takes global warming seriously. The governments of India and China and pretty much every other place on Earth take it seriously. Inhofe probably acts as a kind of argument for doing something about climate change. It’s the same as crazy people marching the streets shouting, “The end is nigh!” They always make me feel that everything is okay. If they weren’t so obviously crazy, I might be worried. Of course, the people of the world might start worrying about America in a general sense, but I can’t say that is unreasonable.

Such a stunt sounds so much like what a bunch of born again Christians would do. He’s certain he knows the truth. There is literally no way he will ever be convinced. I have to admit, that I’ve been somewhat deluded these past few years. I’ve thought that in ten or twenty years, all these global warming deniers would be unable to resist the plain facts. But that isn’t true. James Inhofe will never accept that global warming is happening, just as George Will won’t. It really doesn’t matter how long they live or what they see.

I talk a lot around here about how reasoning doesn’t work the way that we think it does. In general, people decide on something and then use their mighty brains to rationalize why they are right. But it does seem that not all people are alike in this regard. Some people are more open to new information than others. In particular, there are ways to turn off reflection. Fideism is a good way to do this. And it really doesn’t matter if it is through a dogmatic religion or an ossified ideology. In this case, we are not even talking about conservatism or “free market” absolutism. In Inhofe’s case, it is just a rejection of anything that he sees as liberal.

So imagine twenty years from now and global warming mitigation is costing the world trillions of dollars ever year. Inhofe is already 80 years old. He’ll be dead. George Will is 74, so he’ll probably be dead. But there will be a lot of living global warming deniers from today. And they’ll have a reason that they were right all along. There’s always a reason. If you are determined to believe something, you will find a way. But it doesn’t matter, because the damage will have been done. What’s more, even if all the Inhofes and Wills beg for forgiveness, they will still be out there denying any new threat to our safety and preaching their convenient Truth™.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

10 thoughts on “No Evidence Will Convince Global Warming Deniers

  1. Maybe we should suggest the attendees use snowballs on him.

    My European friends already worry about us. One is okay with Trump because he is a 4Chan hacker type and thinks it is worth it for the lulz but the rest of them are deeply concerned that we might actually elect someone so obviously horrible.

  2. To think about global warming provides me with two alternative visions, both in some fashion amusing. In the first, imagine we are in Duluth or Alaska at high noon in late December some decades hence. It is 99 degrees in the shade and the tar in the streets is bubbling from the heat. We are in swimming suits or merely our underclothes while carrying about parasols. And along the buckled sidewalks come occasional groups of Republicans, dressed in winter woolies and flannel shirts and thick overcoats, wiping sweat from their faces, while complaining ceaselessly of how cold it is in the Arctic winter.

    In the second, I presume that Forces of Global Enlightenment have prevailed over the idiots to some extent — that by carbon taxes and CO2 sequestration and other drastic measures, and at great cost, the world has avoided the most extreme global warming scenarios. And all the elections in America continue to be won by Republicans, campaigning against the liberal Zealots who promulgate endless tyrannical schemes for violating our liberties with baseless allegations of climate change — because, after all, despite the evil things liberals and their captive scientists have inflicted upon us and their insane taxes, the earth’s climate has hardly changed, just as Republicans said all along.


    • Well put! It reminds me of the year 2000 thing. Afterward, everyone was laughing, “It was nothing!” But it was only nothing because so much time and effort had been spent addressing it.

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