Can you be an environmentalist but be a global warming skeptic?

Published on Friday, June 5, 2009 By Brad Wardell In Politics

One of the sites I hang out on is called TreeHugger.com.  People who know me in person know that I’m pretty into helping the environment.  However, I just don’t find the evidence of humans materially affecting the climate to be persuasive.

Most of the discussions are about things like making your home more energy efficient or how to improve your local environment.

But every now and then, you get a global warming discussion and the militancy of the global warming advocates comes out. 

For example, one post entitled “How do we get through to these people?!” discusses the frustration they have in convincing people of the need to pass legislation that drastically reduces our carbon footprints because of the way carbon is affecting climate (in their opinion).

After numerous people responded pointing out how dumb the average person was and that was the reason I came on and wrote:

The reason so many GW advocates get the cold shoulder is because of the sheer arrogance many of them show. The GW issue is one I've followed since before it was remotely mainstream (like many here I presume) and there's nothing more aggravating than having some family member see 'An inconvenient truth" and then have them talk down to me as if they suddenly became climatologists because they watched a movie.


I think the best path is simply to try to get people to want to reduce their footprint (Carbon or otherwise) on the earth's resources. But having people who really are often come across as being brain washed insulting people who are skeptical or disagree (I mean really, how infantile is it to call people like me "climate change deniers" as if we're akin to holocaust deniers).


Incidentally, during the little ice age, heads of state officially blamed witchcraft as the cause of the earth cooling. Humans have always believed that they had the power to control the weather whether it be from gods or controlling CO2 emissions.

Another user had then come on and said that the environmental movement needs to combine its efforts to get effective legislation passed:

My proposed solution today is to bring all the fractured factions of the environemntal movement under one umbrella and provide a warm welcome for converts to join in and participate with a grass-roots effort that allows them to buy-in to it. This may be accomplished by clearly demonstrating affordable and viable sustainable energy solutions and other ways to save money at home with energy efficiency in the short run that offer them immediate returns. In essence, such an effort involves buying the hearts and minds of the people, which is a common business ploy many comapnies use today to gain a customer base.


Then, with a ground-swell of support in shear numbers that can't be ignored, a meaningful lobbying block may be created to rouse the attention of Congressional leadership. Finally, the entire effort must have a feeling of inclusion and provide the necessary money motives that converts and supporters alike can appreciate. It may be high-time to put aside self-righteous indignation and environmental snobishness that serves no purpose in fulfilling our unified goals.

I responded by saying:

The problem is that there is no homogeneous environmental movement. I consider myself an environmentalist but am extremely skeptical about human induced global warming. And I'm not alone. Most of my colleagues who have a similar technical or scientific background are skeptical as well. That doesn't prove anything other than to say that there's a lot of people who fall into my category of being environmentalists but don't think humans are materially affecting global temperatures.


In my opinion, having the government force us to do things "for our own good" is tyranny whether it's in the name of "security" or for "the sake of our planet".

Moreover, environmentalists often strongly disagree on solutions or are totally impractical. Wind energy and solar energy, for instance, won't do the trick any time soon. But try to build a nuclear power plant (0 emissions) and suddenly they get creamed by the envirnomental movement (either reducing our carbon foot print is life or death or it's not - clearly it's not to a lot of people in the movement).

A user responded to this and my other post by saying:

Ultimately it doesn't matter what anyone believes about Global Warming, it's going to happen regardless of what anyone believes about it, and believers and deniers alike will suffer the effects alongside each other. Being a denier simply makes a person appear less intelligent in the meantime.

In other words, because I’m a “denier” I just appear less intelligent.  He went on and said:

Well one thing we've learned is that denialists haven't actually looked at the same data. While we look at data put out by NASA, NOAA, USGS, and other scientific research groups, we've noticed that denialists get their data from oil industry lobbyists, and while some of the data is the same, the data they give has been cherry picked to leave out the data which makes it clear that A: rapid climate change is happening, and that B: human activity is a primary factor.

So you see, if you don’t believe in global warming, you're just not intelligent or you’re brainwashed by big oil.