"Climate Deniers" Are Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name

By S. Fred Singer

Gallia omnia est divisa in partes tres.  This phrase from Julius Gaius Caesar about the division of Gaul nicely illustrates the universe of climate scientists — also divided into three parts.  On the one side are the “warmistas,” with fixed views about apocalyptic man-made global warming; at the other extreme are the “deniers.”  Somewhere in the middle are climate skeptics.

In principle, every true scientist must be a skeptic.  That’s how we’re trained; we question experiments, and we question theories.  We try to repeat or independently derive what we read in publications — just to make sure that no mistakes have been made.

In my view, warmistas and deniers are very similar in some respects — at least their extremists are. 

They have fixed ideas about climate, its change, and its cause.  They both ignore “inconvenient truths” and select data and facts that support their preconceived views.  Many of them are also quite intolerant and unwilling to discuss or debate these views — and quite willing to think the worst of their opponents.

Of course, these three categories do not have sharp boundaries; there are gradations.  For example, many skeptics go along with the general conclusion of the warmistas but simply claim that the human contribution is not as large as indicated by climate models.  But at the same time, they join with deniers in opposing drastic efforts to mitigate greenhouse (GH) gas emissions.

I am going to resist the temptation to name names.  But everyone working in the field knows who is a warmista, skeptic, or denier.  The warmistas, generally speaking, populate the U.N.’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and subscribe to its conclusion that most of the temperature increase of the last century is due to carbon-dioxide emissions produced by the use of fossil fuels.  At any rate, this is the conclusion of the most recent IPCC report, the fourth in a series, published in 2007.  Since I am an Expert Reviewer of IPCC, I’ve had an opportunity to review part of the 5th Assessment Report, due in 2013.  Without revealing deep secrets, I can say that the AR5 uses essentially the same argument and evidence as AR4 — so let me discuss this “evidence” in some detail.

Read the full essay here:  http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/climate_deniers_are_giving_us_skeptics_a_bad_name.html#ixzz1nn0SciyO


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IMO, Singer is trying to thread a needle that isn’t necessary. He should man up and declare himself a full blown denier. How hard could that be?

jack morrow

From the article
“To bring about justice and equality in the world” There you have it. The real reason in a nutshell. To take from some and give to others. Meanwhile the takers take their share first ,then dribble out what’s left. They “feel good” and this make everything OK. What a bunch of phooey!
Never should we let them get away with this.


Spare me the cr#@ Singer. Folks like you conjured the pejorative to subvert anyone who dared ask questions. Now you try to create nuances of “Denier” hate to save face.

The term “denier” should be qualified. Most if not all skeptics recognize that global warming was true, and so was global cooling. That climate change is true, but it is mainly natural climate cycle of warming-cooling-warming-cooling. So skeptics are not “warming deniers” or “climate change” because they recognize that both global warming and climate change did happen, and will happen again. What is being denied is the “man-made” aspect of global warming and climate change, because there are natural factors (the Sun, GCRs, volcanoes, clouds, water vapor, etc.) that affect the climate, not just human emission of CO2.


I think like most fields you cannot box people under general labels like that as their beliefs vary widely. However people that aren’t open to reviewing the facts from whichever side they may come probably shouldn’t be called scientists.


I first took an interest in the whole shemozzle knowing that my wee patch of the world seemed to me to be in a mild spell (as my parents had suggested to me in the 50s – “you’ve never been able to skate on the river but we did at your age”) and expecting to see the effect neatly quantified for the whole planet. Imagine my surprise to find that the temperature measurements seemed to have been fannied about with, in a manner that seemed to be often stupid and sometimes dishonest. Once I realised that I was dealing with duds and crooks I became even more sceptical than usual. But I still suspect that we are in a mild spell – compared to, as I now know to call it, the Little Ice Age. But if the measurements are conclusive, why do the warmistas fiddle and lie so much? It’s a mystery.

What is your point.
There is not really an in-between argument.
Either there is warming caused by manmade additions of CO2 or there is not any.
Clearly there ism’t any
as evidenced by the results
Are you saying I am a denier because my results are telling me that the warming is due to natural causes?


The AWG side is made up of political radicals who want to destroy western civilization so that they can bring to fruition their dream of a great socialist utopia. It has nothing to do with science. Equating the sins of the lefties with those trying to thwart their goals is like equating someone who stole a candy-bar as a kid, with an armed bank robber. How come its always the lefties who talk about compromising. Compromising truth is always results in false. If a robber wants to take all my money, I don’t say “How about half” as a compromise. I get sick and tiered of the “Well they all do it” argument. Lefties lie because it is in their DNA to lie. It is a direct corollary of the “ends justifies the means”. The must believe that because otherwise they would not be able to justify the theft that is implicit in statist socialism.


“I am going to resist the temptation to name names.”
I would like the name of at least one person who ‘denies climate’ as S. Fred Singer puts it.
In the article he states that ‘deniers’ think, “the greenhouse effect does not exist”, and “argue about the cause and effect of the observed increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide”, and “CO2 is so small that they can’t see how it could possibly change global temperature.”
No examples of people denying climate!?


Interesting. Thanks.
If only the alleged academics on the warmista side would have the integrity to do what you are doing now.


I was a denier before it was cool. :P~

ag economist

Singer says in the essay in the American Thinker:
“But what if there is little to no warming between 1978 and 2000? What if the data from thousands of poorly distributed weather stations do not represent a true global warming? The atmospheric temperature record between 1978 and 2000 (both from satellites and, independently, from radiosondes) doesn’t show a warming. Neither does the ocean.”
I am bit surprised about this assertion. On which data is it based?
Thanks, Ag Economist

Interesting positioning by Singer.
here is the sad truth. Until the “skeptics” as Singer describes thems, take on the “deniers” as Singer describes them, then Warmista will continue to successfully lump “skeptics” with “deniers”
According to singer their are certain positions that are clearly contradicted by the science, cheif among them is the disbelief that GHGs can cause warming
Here is a simple phrase you can use to “self identify” as a skeptic:
“GHGs cause warming, the question is how much”
Unless “skeptics” make strong statements about the mistakes of people who deny any GHG effect whatsoever, you’ll forever be lumped in with the kooks. As for the rest of what Singer says, I beg to differ. But he has this point right. Its important to not be lumped in with those who are anti science


I am skeptical about the claim that the deniers are wrong.. The more hard data we get the more they appear correct, ie, we have no statistically significant measurable net warming definatively attibuted to human added CO2. It is still conjecture. There are competeing theories. Of course, there is lots of warming due to agriculture clearing forests and urban heat islands warming the atmosphere, and soot melting the arctic ice.

Dave D

Some of us deniers are balanced, it is just a matter of degree and term preference.
I always, specifically use the terminology denier, I am 48 years old – older than the average person – and it doesn’t mean or con-notate the holocaust, it means what I say. “I deny the assertions on man made global warming.” Clearly global temperatures go up, clearly they go down, I don’t deny warming trends – the issue is the cause.
Pure scientists say well CO2 must have some (small effect), my position is 0.03% of the atmosphere is CO2 (small effect). Man made CO2 is 3% of natural emissions that lead to this 0.03%. I think even the most precise, egg headed scientist, who insists on exact correctness would have a hard time to defending 1 degree total change in over 120 years – a remarkably stable data set, then attribute the major cause (I’ve seen estimates at 50%) to 3% of a 0.03% TRACE GAS.
If skeptics speak in clear, concise ways, like this simple logic, there is no room for Warmistas to wiggle. I am a denier. When we say, man made contributions lead to slight warming (in a fair-minded, correct, scientific way), you lose people not comfortable with Math. When you say the CO2 contribution will only have a logarithmic effect – needs to go up a factor of 10 to double impact, you lose them again. I’m not advocating intellectual dishonesty, by any rounding curve you like, whatever infinitesimal impact (only man-made) emissions have, it is below our ability to measure and can be, reasonably reported as going to zero in any fair rounding method.
Rant, off.

I am a “denier” that man is causing climate change. I believe the earth’s climate does whatever it wants to do, and man can do nothing but adapt or die. Until I can see real proof to the contrary (computer models don’t count), my opinion won’t change. And with all due respect to Dr. Singer, his affiliation with the University of Virginia taints anything he may write on climate change. Anyone associated with a university shielding M. Mann is guilty through association.


Seriously I have never met a ‘D’ worder? I have met those who use power and influence based on a perception of threat to change society to their will and those who fight against them !
Neither holds the truth [no one does!] but one side holds all the levers!


Good point. Denying that CO2 is increasing or that increased CO2, water vapor, whatever do not absorb heat (lower frequency, high entropy photons) re-radiation back into space ignores basic physics. The scientific debate should be “How much does an increase, say of CO2 affect climate?” Us skeptics say some but do not invoke the magic multipliers of effect that the hysterics invoke. The political debate is over what degree of action should be taken given that CO2 levels have been measured to be rising. The skeptics answer is not to take any drastic actions that crashes the economy. Western economic and scientific strength gives us the best tools to attack any unforeseen events. It’s prudent for all sides to explore energy alternatives to coal and oil like nuclear and solar, but somehow the climate hysterics just can’t bring themselves to back clean nuclear as a source of much needed electricity.

I think these terms have been so abused as to be recognizable. Yes, the classical definitions are still correct, but in the vernaculars, they are so bent as to be completely unusable.

greg copeland

The real question is: How much warming does co2 cause, if any?

I am a denier, and proud of it. When the hard measured data shows that adding CO2 to the atmopshere causes a discernable temperature rise, I will cease to be a denier. Until then, I will not change my mind. And there is no CO2 “signal” in the global temperature/time graph; none whatsoever.

That should be “no CO2 “signal””
[ Fixed. -ModE ]


Steven Mosher says:
February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am
“Here is a simple phrase you can use to “self identify” as a skeptic:
“GHGs cause warming, the question is how much””
That question is already loaded. Negative feedbacks probably reduce it to an unmeasurable value; but if I answer “zero” to your question, I negate the premise of the question “GHGs cause warming”.

To reply to Mosher, I agree with you, but I’m always more worried about incompetent doctors than total charlatans. And especially about incompetent doctors that try to describe me as a charlatan.

Steven Mosher says:
February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

Here is a simple phrase you can use to “self identify” as a skeptic:
“GHGs cause warming, the question is how much”

No problem here; the question is how much.


What deniers? Might I ask somebody, anybody, to name them? The SkyDragon people? Do they really believe that the CO2 makes no difference, or is their stance that it doesn’t in real observed conditions?

I absolutely agree with this. Skeptics need to be just as aggressive at policing, and schooling as necessary, “deniers” as they are doing the same with “warmists”. The debate has no room for true religious ideologues.
I’ve certainly done my bit — note well my sustained hammering of Jelbring’s nonsense and Nikolov and Zeller’s equal nonsense — but there is still plenty left to hammer on.
There is absolutely no question that the GHE is real, and that it is a (possibly unknown) function of GHG concentrations. Anyone who argues otherwise should indeed be labelled a kook, as one can take the most cursory glance at TOA IR spectroscopy and see the damn thing in operation. That leaves plenty that one can legitimately argue about, but it establishes a sort of lower bound of sanity.
IMO there is also very little question that solar state has a significant impact on global temperature, again through mechanisms that are quite possibly not fully understood. People that “deny” this on the warmist side are, to be quite frank, kooks. Unless and until global climate models can fully explain the observed variability of the Earth’s thermal record over millennia where CO_2 concentrations were not a factor without recourse to solar state, it is silly to state that its recent thermal record is “only” due to CO_2. In my opinion, they cannot come close to this; they don’t even do a good job of short range predictions or hindcasts, let alone provide a plausible explanation for century scale variations.

Richard M

Steven Mosher says:
February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am
Interesting positioning by Singer.
here is the sad truth. Until the “skeptics” as Singer describes thems, take on the “deniers” as Singer describes them, then Warmista will continue to successfully lump “skeptics” with “deniers”

There are also two types of warmers. Those who believe unquestioning that man is evil and destroying the planet and those who are open to scientific arguments. So, I think the warmers have just as many problems as the skeptics.
Here is a simple phrase you can use to “self identify” as a skeptic:
“GHGs cause warming, the question is how much”

I agree. I believe the GHE has been maxed out at current concentrations by an opposing effect of the GHGs themselves. More GHGs increase heat flow through the atmospheric system. This counters the delay in heat leaving the system by absorption and radiation back towards the surface. I’m still waiting for any climate scientist to look at the combined effect.


Mosher says…
“GHGs can cause warming” and followed that up with “GHGs cause warming, the question is how much”
So which is it — can or does?

Laws of Nature

Hi there,
well, as a skeptic, I believe it is okay to ask questions until there is a good answer.
To be called a denier for that is not okay.
The pharses
“Another subgroup [of deniers] accepts that CO2 levels are increasing in the 20th century but claims that the source is release of dissolved CO2 from the warming ocean.[..] it does not apply to the 20th century: isotopic and other evidence destroys their case.[..] Another subgroup says that natural annual additions to atmospheric CO2 are many times greater than any human source; they ignore the natural sinks that have kept CO2 reasonably constant before humans started burning fossil fuels.”
are in my opinion stigmatized as denier phrases without proper arguments to support this claim!
First of all, the isotopic evidence I have seen only supports that humans indeed burn fossil fuel and does not give any additional information beside that (well you can measure how CO2 diffuses into the deep ocean).
Secondly F. Singer seems not to be aware, that CO2-sinks during a little ice age might change naturally once this LIA comes to an end.
Last not least there are studies by T. V. Segalstad and R. H. Essenhigh suggesting, that the short residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is at odds with the attribution of the long term slope of CO2 in the atmosphere for the last 100years to anthropogenic causes.
These phases won’t go away just because a F. Singer calls anyone who uses them a denier.


Deniers don’t exist, as in:
1. Climate Denier, never heard of a person that denies the existence of climate.
2. Climate Change Denier, never heard of a person that denies that the climate does not change.
There are no extremes on the skeptic side, only varying degrees of what people believe to be man’s influence over climate. But only in the area of climate science is such ridiculous inaccurate language of denialism allowed to be used.


Hmmm, My comment has been awaiting moderation for a half hour. Maybe I should have dialed back the anti-socialist rhetoric a bit?

John Silver

As if you can find anyone who is anti science.

Michael Larkin

Aren’t you aware that sceptics have already taken on deniers here at WUWT and other sceptical blogs re: GHG theory? It would help if the MSM and Warmist blogs actually bothered to listen to the opinions of sceptics. I think you are confusing cause and effect: because sceptics and deniers are a priori lumped together, they are not paid enough attention.


Poor Jeff over at the Air Vent has been trying in vain to take on a denier (Doug Cotton) in a thread that is approaching 100 entries – to no avail.


Ignore my last. If this is a debate, either side only needs to put its own case and argue against the best arguments of the other side. You win nothing by besting the idiots and nutcases on the opposing team. But it really is not a debate about the science any more.
However if somebody who gets the wrong end of the stick about the 2nd law is to be called anti-science? By Mosh? Maybe we ought to see whether the anti-science phraseology is a fingerprint of authorship..

Moshpup says,
“According to singer their are certain positions that are clearly contradicted by the science, cheif among them is the disbelief that GHGs can cause warming
Here is a simple phrase you can use to “self identify” as a skeptic:
“GHGs cause warming, the question is how much””
Of course, even believing that radiative transfer warms there is still the likelihood that it is overwhelmed by all the other factors that make up our climate. Saying GHG’s cause no warming is technically wrong, but, realistically the effect is too small to do much of anything in the big bad universe and the effect so far is not directly measurable in our system.


Part of the problem is that many of what Singer describes as “deniers” don’t see themselves as such. Singer identifies a real issue. Too many pet theories, and they usually contradict each other.
There’s actually a crisp distinction between a skeptic and a “denier”; the skeptic doesn’t believe anything but the basics of the Tyndall effect, whereas the “denier” believes his own pet theory. Singer’s right. But who has the energy to argue with that many pets? I gave up a long time ago.
Having said all of that, the “warmistas” are still responsible for their sloppy thinking in not recognizing the difference. And in many cases, it’s not sloppy thinking, it’s deliberate confusion.

Steven Mosher said @ February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

Unless “skeptics” make strong statements about the mistakes of people who deny any GHG effect whatsoever, you’ll forever be lumped in with the kooks. As for the rest of what Singer says, I beg to differ. But he has this point right. Its important to not be lumped in with those who are anti science

Singer wrote:

I have concluded that we can accomplish very little with convinced warmistas and probably even less with true deniers. So we just make our measurements, perfect our theories, publish our work, and hope that in time the truth will out.

I agree with Singer; doing good science is most important for scientists. I’m surprised that you would disagree with that statement Steve.

A bit of nonsense, all of us are individuals and as such for all of us our outlook on the climate science and associated psychology are different.
As for me personally I am not wormista, I am not denier and I am not sceptic, and I don’t agree on most important matters of climate with anyone, I am trying to find out what is moving climate change for myself. I grew up and was educated in a society which classed its citizens into: those for, those against and the sheep. I hope you aren’t doing the same.


Makes no odds what you or i say.
The warmistas have got their god and they are gonna pray to him.


In a thread titled “The Myth of Backradiation” at Tallbloke’s blog I wrote this epistle in a conversational tone (thus lacking scientific precision) but presenting the ideas as well as a mindstream jot can be expected (http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/stephen-wilde-the-myth-of-backradiation/#comment-18561) and which is entirely a summary of views of other writers on the subject and not based on any science I turned over. That means I’m only the messenger, btw, and am not obligated to defend the content. But I am curious about the content because it would appear that if true it flies in the face of the notion of back radiation being mythical. The meat of the post is that the atmosphere is opaque to some frequencies of light and so that energy is completely absorbed by the atmosphere and that there are knock on effects of that.
Since it failed to attract discussion there I thought I’d try again with a larger audience. I do emphatically believe GHG’s can and do absorb and re-radiate energy and that has consequences for the climate and weather. What happens next with that energy is debatable and that is Singer’s point.

Gary Palmgren

from Mosher, ““GHGs cause warming, the question is how much”
Really? is there a real experiment that shows that?
I have been doing a series of bench top experiments in a large tube where I have a pool of water at the bottom heated by an internal incandescent lamp at the midpoint of the tube and a bucket of ice at the top. I keep the pressure constant with a water lock and add CO2 to >10%. I get warming that lasts for no more than 10 minutes before the temperature goes back to the original equilibrium. Even when I run the system without water, I cannot get more than a momentary temperature increase when I add the CO2. I’ve been trying hard, but I cannot get a lasting temperature increase from CO2 in my bench top experiment.
I challenge you to come up with a paper or experiment using a dynamic system such as my little experiment where CO2 causes a lasting temperature increase. This is still an unproven hypothesis (to my limited knowledge). And yes my experiment does prove CO2 absorbs IR by the short term temperature increase, but we knew that. The question is what happens in a dynamic system has not been answered. I’ll be writing up the results after I figure out how the dry system goes back to the original temperature. I’m going to have to try to measure the convection air movement somehow.

Steve from Rockwood

Scientists tend to be the least skeptical group because they passionately believe that they are right. So the middle is almost never filled with skeptical scientists.

John J.

The three groups mentioned, warmists, skeptics and deniers, are all less important than the group that does not seem to exist; the realists. Those are the ones who say, “Maybe AGW is a potential problem, so let’s work on some realistic solutions that will protect the Earth without totally destroying our economies.” It may be difficult to effect the earth’s albedo, be it would be far less expensive and disruptive than what is being pushed by the warmists.


I know that Co2 is a greenhouse gas. It was possibly responsible for some of the most recent warming. The basic argument boils down to how much of the recent warming was due to natural causes and how much was man made? I cannot recall this question having ever been answered along evidence (excluding models).


Really? is there a real experiment that shows that?


Here is a simple phrase you can use to “self identify” as a skeptic:
“GHGs cause warming, the question is how much”

A stupid and unscientific statement. GHGs don’t cause warming any more than insulating my house causes it to heat up.


How can rabid believers in the ‘recently invented hypothesis back-radiation’ from GHGs – causing surface warming, claim to be ‘sceptics’ of the IPCC pseudo-scientific propaganda.
“It’s global warming Jim, but not as we know it!
Get your radiative physics hats of and learn to think laterally. Just because someone doesn’t ride your particular hobby horse, it doesn’t make them a science ‘denier’.