I’m preparing a paper for an upcoming conference on this, so please comment if you can! Thanks. Many people have urged for there to be some legal or moral consequence for denying climate change. This urge generally comes from a number of places. Foremost is the belief that the science of anthropogenic climate change is proven beyond reasonable doubt and that climate change is an ethical issue. Those quotes from Mahorasy’s blog are interesting. I’ll include one here:
Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a crime against humanity, after all. –Margo Kingston, 21 November 2005
The urge also comes from frustration with a ‘denial’ lobby: the furthest and more extreme talkers on the subject who call global warming a ‘hoax’ (following James Inhofe’s now infamous quote). Of course there would be frustration with this position–a ‘hoax’ is purposeful and immoral. And those who either conduct the science or trust the science do not enjoy being told they are perpetrating a ‘hoax’, generating a myth, or committing a fraud….
I’m an advocate for something stronger. Call it regulation, law, or influence. Whatever name we give it, it should not be seen as regulation vs. freedom, but as a balancing of different freedoms. In the same way that to enjoy the freedom of a car you need insurance to protect the freedom of other drivers and pedestrians; in the same way that you enjoy the freedom to publish your views, you need a regulatory code to ensure the freedoms of those who can either disagree with or disprove your views. Either way. While I dislike Brendan O’Neill and know he’s wrong, I can’t stop him. But we need a body with teeth to be able to say, “actually Brendan, you can’t publish that unless you can prove it.” A body which can also say to me, and to James Hansen, and to the IPCC, the same….
What do you think? Perhaps a starting point is a draft point in the codes for governing how the media represent climate change, and a method for enforcing that code. And that code needs to extend out to cover new media, including blogs. And perhaps taking a lesson from the Obama campaign’s micro-response strategy: a team empowered with responding to complaints specifically dealing with online inaccuracy, to which all press and blogs have to respond. And so whatever Jennifer Mahorasy, or Wattsupwiththat, or Tom Nelson, or Climate Sceptic, or OnEarth, or La Marguerite, or the Sans Pretence, or DeSmog Blog, or Monckton or me, say, then we’re all bound by the same freedoms of publishing.
He asked for comments. I really did not have much energy to refute something so wrong-headed, but I left a few thoughts:
Wow, as proprietor of Climate-Skeptic.com, I am sure flattered to be listed as one of the first up against the wall come the great green-fascist revolution. I found it particularly ironic that you linked my post skewering a climate alarmist for claiming that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects. Gee, I thought the fact that objects of different masses fall at the same rate had been "settled science" since the late 1500s.
But I don’t think you need a lecture on science, you need a lecture on civics. Everyone always wants free speech for themselves. The tough part is to support free speech for others, even if they are horribly, terribly wrong-headed. That is the miracle of the first amendment, that we have stuck by this principle for over 200 years.
You see, technocrats like yourself are always assuming the perfect government official with perfect knowledge and perfect incentives to administer your little censorship body. But the fact is, such groups are populated with real people, and eventually, the odds are they will be populated by knaves. And even if folks are well-intentioned, incentives kill such government efforts every time. What if, for example, your speech regulation bureaucrats felt that their job security depended on a continued climate crisis, and evidence of no crisis might cause their job to go away? Would they really be unbiased with such an incentive?
Here is a parallel example to consider. It strikes me that the laws of economics are better understood than the activity of greenhouse gasses. I wonder if the author would support limits on speech for supporters of such things like minimum wages and trade protectionism that economists routinely say make no sense in the science of economics. Should Barrack Obama be enjoined from discussing his gasoline rebate plan because most all economists say that it won’t work the way he says? There is an economist consensus, should that be enough to silence Obama?