War on Science: Breitbart doubles down on world’s dumbest denial

  • Published on April 19th, 2019

A couple week ago, Breitbart’s John Nolte wrote a piece claiming that “scientists have finally proven that the theory of man-made Global Warming is a total hoax.” Obviously that’s not true. Nolte transparently and unabashedly misconstrued the conclusions of a study showing that CO2 levels on Earth haven’t been as high as current levels in at least 3 million years.

just how dumb can climate change denial get?
Sen. Mike Lee demonstrates just how dumb climate change denial can get

By Climate Denier Roundup

According to Nolte, the fact that CO2 levels then were the same as they are now means that we must not be causing warming now because there was warming then. This, it should go without saying, is very, very dumb.

But dumb takes are Nolte’s brand. Whether it’s defending (“alleged”) pedophiles like Michael Jackson and Woody Allen, attacking transgender people as being mentally ill, sexualizing women or criticizing them for putting on weight (an issue one might think he’s sensitive to, given his own admitted insecurity about his weight and being“pathetically vain about [his] build”,) Nolte is one of the key forces behind Breitbart’s culture-war-trolling.

So it’s not exactly surprising that he took a study warning about the grave impacts of warming and spun it as a demolition of climate science. Somewhat sadly, a bunch of real climate scientists had to waste their time debunking the piece – but fortunately, it probably didn’t take them long.

The debunking from the scientists tapped by Climate Feedback is especially strong–one researcher described the original piece as “quite possibly the worst ‘climate’-related article I’ve ever encountered.” Reviewers pointed out how Notle is “woefully ignorant,” and that his claim that past warming debunks current trends is “like saying fires happened naturally before so there is no way any of us could cause a fire,” or that “by the reasoning of this article, if a rock rolled down a hill three million years ago, no human can be responsible for rolling a rock down a hill today. The fallaciousness of this reasoning is astounding.”

Is it though? Is it really all that surprising that Nolte “completely misunderstands the point of the science it reports on”?

No. Obviously not. Of course Nolte knew what he was writing was “completely nonsensical.” But the point wasn’t to educate his audience, it was to excite them by confirming their preconceived notions, and by (falsely) using a climate science study to (supposedly) debunk climate science, it was an exercise in owning the libs.

In response to the thorough and good-faith effort to educate him, Nolte responded with a new post writing off the debunking as “pedantic word salad.” And instead of seeing the logic inherent in “past CO2 cycles don’t mean we can’t raise CO2 levels presently” he doubled down on his intentional ignorance, asking “why should we believe that this time it’s our fault?”

Well, Nolte, because as you pointed out, for the past century we’ve been digging up carbon dioxide that was naturally stored in fossil fuels, and burned it. And now we can see that CO2 in the atmosphere, and we know that it causes warming. Pretty straightforward.

Instead of acknowledging that perhaps he misread the study, Nolte doubles down on the denial,  and points to past examples of issues that the “scientific consensus has gotten horribly, terribly, unforgivably wrong.” These are, as you may expect, a mix of myths like global cooling, and outright lies, like about acid rain. The reason acid rain didn’t destroy our forests or die when the ozone layer disappeared is because we took action to stop the pollution causing those problems, not that the problems never existed.

But again, responding with facts assumes that Nolte is acting in good faith and has even a passing interest in getting things right. But there’s little doubt that his real aim has nothing to do with being right, and is instead writing solely to troll the left.

(Crossposted with DailyKos.)

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