Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe has noticed that calling someone a “denier” tends to end the conversation. Her solution – call them an evidence “dismissive” instead.
There Must Be More Productive Ways To Talk About Climate Change
May 9, 20175:03 AM ET
Rachel Martin talks to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who stresses how unproductive it is to label someone a “climate denier.”
With the White House threatening to pull out of the Paris accord, environmentalists are speaking up more strongly than ever about the need for policies that help reduce the effects of climate change. This is getting personal. When Scott Pruitt was tapped to leave the Environmental Protection Agency he was labeled a climate denier, and that has become the go-to phrase for anyone who expresses skepticism about climate science.
MARTIN: What do you think about the term climate denier? What does it conjure up for you?
HAYHOE: Climate denier is a good way to end the conversation. So if our goal is to label and dismiss whoever it is that we are speaking with or to, then that word will do it. What I use instead is a word I think is actually more accurate, as well as having less baggage associated with it, and that is the word dismissive. I use that. It comes from the six Americas of global warming, which separates people into a spectrum of six different groups depending on how they feel about climate change science and solutions.
The group starts with people who are alarmed. And then there’s people who are concerned. And then those who are cautious, which are actually the biggest group. Then there’s people who are disengaged, those who are doubtful. And then at the very end we have about 10 percent of the population who is dismissive.
And I think that’s the perfect term because a dismissive person will dismiss any evidence, any arguments with which they’re presented because dismissing the reality of climate change and the necessity for action is such a core part of their identity that it’s like asking them to, you know, almost cut off an arm. That’s how profound the change would be for them to change their minds about climate change.
Is calling someone a “dismissive” better than calling them a “denier”? Both pretty insulting.
Scientists like Hayhoe can’t bring themselves to call people who disagree with their speculative theories “skeptics”, because skepticism is such an important part of science – except apparently when it comes to expressing skepticism about the validity of the estimated lower boundary of the IPCC climate sensitivity range, which seems to be totally forbidden.