Climate change skeptics should be “treated,” says enviro-sociologist

posted at 4:15 pm on March 30, 2012 by Tina Korbe

This just smacks of the same mentality that inspired climate change activists to say global warming deniers should be purged from meteorology. Kari Mari Norgaard, a professor of sociology and environmental studies at the University of Oregon, suggests that resistance to the threat of climate change at individual and societal levels must be “recognized and treated” before real action can be taken to effectively address the problem global warming poses. From a University of Oregon press release:

“Climate change poses a massive threat to our present social, economic and political order. From a sociological perspective, resistance to change is to be expected,” she said. “People are individually and collectively habituated to the ways we act and think. This habituation must be recognized and simultaneously addressed at the individual, cultural and societal level — how we think the world works and how we think it should work.” …

At the personal level, climate-change information raises fear about the future, a sense of helplessness and guilt. These emotions clash with individual — and often national — identity, sense of self-efficacy and the need for basic security and survival. In small groups, interactions often subvert political conversations and/or submerge the visibility of climate-change issues. At the macro level, or society at large, the co-authors point to an absence of serious discussion of climate change within U.S. Congressional hearings and in media coverage.

In many discussions in the last 30 years, climate change has been seen as either a hoax or fixable with minimal political or economic intervention, said Norgaard, author of the book “Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life” (2011, MIT Press). “This kind of cultural resistance to very significant social threat is something that we would expect in any society facing a massive threat,” she said. The discussion, she said, is comparable to what happened with challenges to racism or slavery in the U.S. South.

Norgaard clearly assumes that climate change science is settled — but it still isn’t. Just three days ago, for example, Princeton physics professor William Happer wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal under the headline, “Global warming models are wrong again.” Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions.

We need high-quality climate science because of the importance of climate to mankind. But we should also remember the description of how science works by the late, great physicist, Richard Feynman:

“In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience; compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment it is wrong.”

The most important component of climate science is careful, long-term observations of climate-related phenomena, from space, from land, and in the oceans. If observations do not support code predictions—like more extreme weather, or rapidly rising global temperatures—Feynman has told us what conclusions to draw about the theory.

Norgaard is surely right that there are plenty of unscientific reasons to wish to think climate change does not pose the threat some scientists say it does. An acceptance of that hypothesized threat might impose certain obligations — to, say, purchase a low emissions vehicle — that a person might wish to avoid. Yet, there are surely plenty of unscientific reasons to wish to think climate change does pose the threat some scientists say it does. A desire for the power and latitude to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, for example, might motivate some politicians to accept climate science that they would not otherwise.

In charged debates like this one, it’s not helpful to use rhetoric that suggests dissenters are diseased. Far better to patiently engage in respectful discussion.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Why should anyone take these eco-freaks seriously? They never offer solutions that have anything much to do with climate. Their offerings usually have more to do with Robin Hood economics than anything else. If, for example, we had passed Obama’s cap-and-tax scheme without amendment… it would have resulted in a CO2 reduction of one-half of one percent. That’s bankrupting the country, for one-half of one percent. And that was BEFORE whatever large volcanic eruption we last had.

These people are either idiots or thieves. Personally, I suspect both.

Murf76 on March 30, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Social pseudo science and it’s social pseudo scientists should just go away.

burt on March 30, 2012 at 8:29 PM

All communist governments have reeducation camps (prisons) for people that disagree with them, many die in the process.

dunce on March 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM

O. M. Freaking. G.

I just googled this piece of work and ended up here:

http://www.whitman.edu/content/sociology/faculty/norgaard

Warning: Don’t look. Seriously.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now excuse me while I go boil my eyeballs…

Dirty Creature on March 30, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Looks like a Jim Carrey character.

slickwillie2001 on March 30, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Climate change poses a massive threat to our present social, economic and political order.

And, of course, to meet this massive threat we must make massive changes to our present social, economic, and political order. What a load of marxist doublespeak fecal matter.

A. C. on March 30, 2012 at 8:38 PM

This habituation must be recognized and simultaneously addressed at the individual, cultural and societal level — how we think the world works and how we think it should work.”

Pol Pot thought the same thing. Millions of people didn’t live through that re-education event.

TulsAmerican on March 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM

The communists always used to claim dissenters from the Party Line were insane, and used it as a pretext to imprison them. I’m sure Comrade Kari would be cool with that.

Do NOT look at her picture directly. I’m not kidding.

Adjoran on March 30, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Drew Lowell on March 30, 2012 at 5:05 PM

If respectful discussion is what you wish, you’ve come to the right place.

So, for starters, help me out, by proving, with data that is fully transparent, and peer reviewed:

1. That the earth is warming.
2. That the effect of the putative warming will be deleterious.
3. That mans’ activities caused it.
4. That changing certain behaviours will absolutely and completely reverse the warming.

If you can do these things, without shenanigans, your science will be science.

Go. Prove.

massrighty on March 30, 2012 at 9:27 PM

She seems nice.

kenny on March 30, 2012 at 9:40 PM

That global warming is more serious than terrorism. Unless the terrorist is on your plane, then that extra half a degree doesn’t bother you so much.” –Jay Leno …

Dr Evil on March 30, 2012 at 9:47 PM

http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2012/03/29/re-engineering-humans/

Maybe they could get Dr Liao and the ilk of his mindset to do a little pro bono work and help that poor woman out.

Liberals, heal thyself.

WryTrvllr on March 30, 2012 at 9:57 PM

At the personal level, climate-change information raises fear about the future, a sense of helplessness and guilt. These emotions clash with individual — and often national — identity, sense of self-efficacy and the need for basic security and survival. In small groups, interactions often subvert political conversations and/or submerge the visibility of climate-change issues. At the macro level, or society at large, the co-authors point to an absence of serious discussion of climate change within U.S. Congressional hearings and in media coverage.

Says you. Honestly, it must be hard to come up with ideas like this while listening to the clown music that must surely be playing in Kari Mari’s head.

fullogas on March 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Oh, goodie, I finally get to use my original anagram:

Al Gore’s “Warmageddon” = Warmed gonads galore.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 31, 2012 at 12:53 AM

The science is settled.

We fired every scientist that disagreed with us and settled it.

Now all we do it discredit anyone who disagrees with us. Hide all of our data and email.

After all everyone knows all science is is a political theory you pay scientist to prove for you.

Steveangell on March 31, 2012 at 1:46 AM

All communist governments have reeducation camps (prisons) for people that disagree with them, many die in the process.

dunce on March 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM

+100 dunce. I thought “reeducaton camps” the moment I saw the title.

Someone cue up “The Killing Fields”.

itsspideyman on March 31, 2012 at 2:11 AM

Human Caused Global Warming advocates should be treated;

With Contempt.

jaydee_007 on March 31, 2012 at 2:45 AM

…the co-authors point to an absence of serious discussion of climate change within U.S. Congressional hearings and in media coverage.

There are standing offers to debate global warming live on the national media, but the global warmers refuse to appear and explain their theories.

RJL on March 31, 2012 at 3:17 AM

Dissenters aren’t “diseased”. They are skeptics, and skeptics are fine. Dr. Happer is a skeptic – but not about the phenomenon of global warming, in terms of whether or not it is happening.

He apparently is not a climate scientist (interesting how often lend their ears and total credence to those folks who aren’t climate scientists), but he is correct that the models don’t exactly match reality.

In fact, scientific models NEVER match reality exactly. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t good or efficacious. It just means that they are works in progress.

Waiting until climate models are EXACTLY predictive would entail waiting a very long time indeed. But the trend is clear: they are becoming better all the time.

The climate trend is becoming clearer also. More extreme weather (CEI index), a climate that shows increasing average temperatures, and, the worst of all worlds, more drought (as in crop failures).

oakland on March 31, 2012 at 7:07 AM

The climate trend is becoming clearer also. More extreme weather (CEI index), a climate that shows increasing average temperatures, and, the worst of all worlds, more drought (as in crop failures).

oakland on March 31, 2012 at 7:07 AM

Nope. No increase in over 13 years now. And you ARE right. Those poor norwegians in greenland did have their crops fail.

WryTrvllr on March 31, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Nope. No increase in over 13 years now.

You and I aren’t talking about the same thing, obviously. Please review the definition of “climate”, as well as the CEI.

oakland on March 31, 2012 at 8:20 AM

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html#history

something to chew on

WryTrvllr on March 31, 2012 at 8:21 AM

PS. It’s the sanctimonious cr@p that makes people so skeptical of you.

WryTrvllr on March 31, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Kari Mari Norgaard lshould have his/her sociologist credentials revoked. That a “sociologist” would recommend mental adjustment for people who disagree with him/her is criminally reprehensible. Can you remember the re-education camps of the marxist/socialists; the removal and disposal of the mentally “defectives” by the National Socialists?

Oh, I forgot. This is the socialist republic of Oregon. Maybe the people of Oregon should be sent to re-education camps for tolerating this POS. Maybe Oregon and northern califorika can join together, secede, and kill off everybody that doesn’t agree with them as all good marxists do.

Lastly, what does a socialologist know about climatology. Oh, I forgot, democrat/marxist.socialists only have to think they know something tobecome subject experts.

Old Country Boy on March 31, 2012 at 9:18 AM

blink on March 31, 2012 at 11:08 AM

No, to all, Blink. I don’t speak your language, and you don’t speak mine.

And, as I’ve said numerous times before, you can’t define any of those terms you use. Or, at least you haven’t demonstrated that you can….

oakland on March 31, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Princeton physics professor William Happer wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal under the headline, “Global warming models are wrong again.”

He would be the first to be adjusted.

unclesmrgol on March 31, 2012 at 12:27 PM

oakland on March 31, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Why is the only solution to your problem the democrat party platform?

Jog off commie.

tom daschle concerned on March 31, 2012 at 1:49 PM

oakland, are you finally ready to admit that irrationally high “temperature sensitivity to CO2″ is actually a claim of positive feedback?

oakland, are you ready to defend the claims of positive feedback?

blink on March 31, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Uhhhh I dunno Oakland…..Blink seems to understand where the real science is taking place right now.

WryTrvllr on March 31, 2012 at 2:15 PM

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/22/more-evidence-the-medieval-warm-period-was-global/

and something else to consider

WryTrvllr on March 31, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Conservatives today are no different from the flat earth believers many years ago.

liberal4life on March 30, 2012 at 4:23 PM

if you studied history I think you will find the flat earth deniers are more aligned with the science is settled crowd than the AGW skeptics

RonK on March 31, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Unfortunately both sides use this Ad Hominem mental health device in discourse.

Observation on April 1, 2012 at 7:35 AM

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