Of Course Denial Is Not The River In Africa:
The upheaval over the climate e-mails is business as usual for the climate science deniers or denialists - they're not "skeptics", ok and here's why. Scientists are by nature "skeptics" and consider skepticism a valid approach to analysis. Merriam Webster says "skeptic" derives from the Greek skeptikos thoughtful, or skeptesthai to look. Quite different however, and unfortunate for all of us, the climate data needs to be denied to be disbelieved. There's too much of it over too many years from too many different fields -- too much evidence to be skeptical about. Meanwhile, while some deniers happily call themselves deniers, others deniers take extreme offense, saying calling them deniers is dismissive or denigrating. But that's not the goal here. I'm not saying deniers don't have feelings, they have valid feelings, and they may also have issues facing reality or other problems.
For instance, just as people who don't recycle may sincerely have difficulty separating cans from cardboard, climate deniers may be incapable of swimming. We can empathize. Swimming may become an even more vital skill in the future. Deniers may fear being seen driving an electric car, fear heatstroke, fear malaria, fear fire, fear tornadoes, fear heatstroke, or fear moving from Florida, which could be affected most by impending climate change with rising sea waters, temperatures and incidence of malaria. Fear may incapacitate deniers reasoning faculties or propel them to convince themselves and others that no change is necessary. We empathize some more.
But if we chance-it, if we do nothing because of the deniers' fears, if we just go on talk about emails in the UK some more, then we're making a choice that has the potential for far scarier outcomes than facing the mounds of evidence and choosing to do something. And we can do something, we can change, we can support industries that solve climate problems. Or we can do business as usual, and suffer the economic consequences of that. There are all sorts of innocent reasons why deniers are in denial. But denial for any reason thwarts problem solving.
Rearranging The Deck Chairs on The Titanic. Well..?
We don't necessarily understand their reasons, but we recognize the deniers' rhetoric. Decades of ice core data, Antarctica data, arctic data, temperatures, sea levels, temperatures and, corral bleaching, tree ring data, and more, all show global warming over decades, but they'll point out the window laughing and say "but today is cold out - global warming? Hahaha". If there's noise in a 30 year graph showing an up or down trend, they focus on a one year time period that shows the opposite trend, and say that's proof" that the graph is false.
Here's one video, just one piece of evidence in mountains of available data, showing the decrease in perennial sea ice (seconds ~25-50):
Deniers will ignore all the evidence, focus on a bunch of emails and call it ClimateGate, and get everyone to run over to the starboard side of the ship, when there's an iceberg forward (although, actually, eventually that won't be a problem anymore.) Or they'll say the problem is that the scientists weren't communicating and weren't being transparent with the data. Of course last year the Wall Street Journal was complaining about "too much" global warming evidence. We're not saying that scientists shouldn't have thought twice about pouring vents and frustration into emails, but this is the sideshow which keeps us all spinning, keeps us doing nothing.
Meanwhile, if the sea level of the Mediterranean Sea rose 1 meter, the Nile River Basin, home to millions and cultivated to feed more millions, would lose 6.1 million people to displacement. Where would they all go? 4,500 square kilometers of Nile River Basin cropland would be lost, and the World Bank estimates a 6% loss in GDP to Egypt, and direct GDP losses for about 10 other countries. 6% GDP impact would raise to 16% with a 5 meter rise of sea level. That's one area of the world and one river basin, there's many others. Louisiana and Florida will be lost to rising seas. California and Australia will have more forest fires.
And while many results of climate change are known, other possible changes could be even more catastrophic if they happened. This is the case with The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt or thermohaline circulation. Scientists don't know what the outcome of the collapse of the thermohaline circulation would be. They don't know how that would further change climate, which areas would be warmer, how it would effect ocean salinity. Would the ocean become a pond? Scientists can't predict, but there's a chance that it could be catastrophic. There's never absolute surety in science, but the outcomes can be different both ways, better, or a lot worse.
Deniers like Senator Jim Inhofe would be brandishing threats about emails if he were in hip-waders up to his waist in sea water. That's the way its always been and that's the way it will always be. Fighting against mult-million dollar "pro-industry" campaigns by oil companies and the people they corral - like Inhofe - has occupied scientists as much as the science. So when some people, (including scientists) now turn around and say that scientists need to be more transparent, it doesn't ring true. The data has been there and still is. These 'scientists aren't talking right' distractions only derail scientists from looking for solutions.