By Dr. John Happs
The term “climate denier” continues to be used by those promoting catastrophic global warming from the trivial emissions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. It is a derogatory term, first coined by the journalist Ellen Goodman. In 2007 she wrote for the Boston Globe:
“I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”
Dennis Prager responded to Goodman’s vitriol:
“The Ellen Goodman quote is only the beginning of what is already becoming one of the largest campaigns of vilification of decent people in history – the global condemnation of a) anyone who questions global warming; or b) anyone who agrees that there is global warming but who argues that human behaviour is not its primary cause; or c) anyone who agrees that there is global warming, and even agrees that human behaviour is its primary cause, but does not believe that the consequences will be nearly as catastrophic as Al Gore does.”
The terms “climate denier” and “global warming denier” are deeply offensive. They equate disagreement about science with Holocaust denial, which is obviously the reason “denial” rather than “disagreement” is used. It is nasty and insulting, and no decent scientist, journalist, or anyone else for that matter, should ever use those expressions.
There will always be (and should be) disagreement about various issues in science among scientists but should Einstein have been called a “physics denier” because he rejected the widely held luminiferous ether hypothesis? Should Copernicus have been called an “astronomy denier”?
Science has always been about debate. Science progresses by the constant testing of ideas and hypotheses against experiment. Terms such as “consensus” should never be used as an argument since it is a political/ideological term and not one that belongs in science.
Try telling that to the media and today’s climate alarmists.
Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come under much criticism, a number of conclusions reached by the IPCC about climate change have been endorsed by many scientists.
Presumably all scientists would agree that the Earth’s climate is changing and has always changed over the last 4 billion years.
Presumably all scientists would agree that the Earth has warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age (1300-1850) via natural processes.
Presumably most scientists would agree that doubling the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide would raise global temperature. What appears to be contentious and divisive is the amount of warming that might be attributed to human activity and whether global warming or any future increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would be beneficial or harmful.
It is unfortunate that those who embrace the climate alarmist position continue to malign those who claim there is no climate emergency with repeated use of the term “climate denier” along with attempts to marginalize and even ridicule those scientists who do not embrace their climate alarmism.
Some climate alarmists continue to denigrate anyone who attempts to provide alternative scientific facts. One common ploy has been to use vilification along with the suggestion that skeptical arguments come from unreliable sources.
For instance, in October, 2009 Annabel Crabb interviewed journalist Andrew Bolt on the ABC’s Insiders program. Crabb acidly asked:
“Where does Andrew Bolt get his climate change sceptic facts and figures from? The University of East Bumcrack?”
Other climate alarmists have attempted to persuade the general public and politicians that “only a handful” of scientists reject the mantra of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
Science historian Naomi Oreskes, in her publication: “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?” Claimed:
“Today, all but a tiny handful of climate scientists are convinced that earth’s climate is heating up and that human activities are a significant cause.”
This claim was repeated in the Oreske and Conway 2012 book:
“Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.”
Journalist Johann Hari, writing for The Independent and The Huffington Post also claimed that a mere handful of scientists rejected climate alarmism. He stated:
“Quite apart from being a damaging and unscientific climate change denier, Senator Inhofe could be described as an enemy of science and reason themselves. The Senator’s statements have been “repudiated” by “even the handful of contrarian scientists Inhofe constantly cites.”
John Cook and Thomas Farmer, in their book “Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis” also referred to that handful of dissenters:
“A variation of the Fake Expert strategy is to take the handful of remaining dissenting climate scientists and magnify their voices to give the impression of more significant disagreement than there actually is.”
Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times also implied that a mere handful of scientists rejected climate alarmism, saying:
“As far as I can tell, every one of the handful of well-known scientists who have expressed climate skepticism has received large sums of money from these companies or from dark money conduits like Donors Trust.”
Edvardsson et al. (2017) go one step further in their paper: “Climate and environmental science denial: A review of the scientific literature published in 1990-2015″ asserting (my emphasis) that:
“The number of countries where climate change denial is strong is still limited to a handful.”
Astrophysicist Richard Schwartz used the expression: handful of contrarians:
“Most important, contrarians must show why the scientific basis of greenhouse gas warming is incorrect. It remains unfortunate that the opinions of a handful of contrarians should be given the same weight in the press and the popular media as the studied conclusions of thousands of scientists.”
So where should we look to find that mere “handful of contrarians” from only a “handful of countries” that reject climate alarmism?
Let’s start with the more than 4,000 scientists, including 70 Nobel Laureates, who have signed the 1992 Heidelberg Appeal.
The petition site says:
“We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.
We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look toward the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man’s first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity had always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse. We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved.”
“The Heidelberg Appeal was publicly released at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. By the end of the 1992 summit, 425 scientists and other intellectual leaders had signed the appeal. Since then, word of mouth has prompted thousands more scientists to lend their support. Today, more than 4,000 signatories, from over 100 countries have signed it, including more than 70 Nobel Prize winners. In spite of this spontaneous and growing support from the world’s scientific community, the Heidelberg Appeal has received very little media attention.”
In 1997 more than 100 scientists and climate/atmospheric research journal editors, signed the Leipzig Declaration.
The petition site says:
“Based on all the evidence available to us, we cannot subscribe to the politically inspired world view that envisages climate catastrophes and calls for hasty actions. For this reason, we consider the drastic emission control policies likely to be endorsed by the Kyoto conference – lacking credible support from the underlying science – to be ill-advised and premature.”
In 1998 (and onwards) more than 31,000 scientists, including geophysicists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers and environmental scientists, signed the Oregon Petition. Included were over 9,000 with PhD’s.
The petition site says:
“We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
In 2007 more than 400 prominent scientists disputed man-made global warming claims and this resulted in a US Senate Report:
The report stated (in part):
“Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists. In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics “appear to be expanding rather than shrinking.”
“Many of the scientists featured in this report consistently stated that numerous colleagues shared their views, but they will not speak out publicly for fear of retribution. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, explains how many of his fellow scientists have been intimidated.”
In 2007 a group of German scientists declared themselves climate change skeptics and issued a proclamation titled “The Climate Manifest of Heiligenroth.”
Their 6 basic points were:
1) There is no proven influence on climate by man-made emissions of CO2;
2) Scenarios on future climate change derived from computer models are speculative and contradicted by climate history;
3) There has been climate change in all times of Earth history with alternating cold and warm phases;
4) The trace gas CO2 dos not pollute the atmosphere. CO2 is an essential resource for plant growth and therefore a pre-condition for life on Earth;
5) We are committing ourselves to an effective preservation of our environment and support arrangements to prevent unnecessary stress on ecosystems;
6) We strongly warn against taking action using imminent climate catastrophe as a vehicle which will not be beneficial for our environment and will cause economic damage.
A list of the 342 signatories can be found at:
In 2008 over 1,500 scientists, including 200 with expertise and qualifications in climate science signed the Manhattan Declaration established by the International Climate Science Coalition.
This states (in part):
“Affirming that attempts by governments to legislate costly regulations on industry and individual citizens to encourage CO2 emission reduction will slow development while having no appreciable impact on the future trajectory of global climate change. Such policies will markedly diminish future prosperity and so reduce the ability of societies to adapt to inevitable climate change, thereby increasing, not decreasing human suffering.
That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity’s real and serious problems.
That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.”
Another document that records comments from a large body of scientists rejecting the mantra of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming can be found here:
“More Than 1,000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming.”
This states (in part):
“More than 1,000 dissenting scientists (updates previous 700 scientist report) from around the globe have now challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore.
This new 2010 321-page Climate Depot Special Report — updated from the 2007 ground breaking U.S. Senate Report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming “consensus” — features the skeptical voices of over 1,000 international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC.”
In 2009 an open letter was sent to the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the signatures of more than 140 scientists.
“There is no sound reason to impose expensive and restrictive public policy decisions on the peoples of the Earth without first providing convincing evidence that human activities are causing dangerous climate change beyond that resulting from natural causes. Before any precipitate action is taken, we must have solid observational data demonstrating that recent changes in climate differ substantially from changes observed in the past and are well in excess of normal variations caused by solar cycles, ocean currents, changes in the Earth’s orbital parameters and other natural phenomena.”
Claims are often made by climate alarmists that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agrees that the Earth is experiencing dangerous global warming. In fact such climate alarmism has been promoted by NASA’s activist scientists Dr. James Hansen (now retired) and the current Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) Dr. Gavin Schmidt.
In response to unfounded climate alarmism from GISS, the following petition from NASA scientists, engineers and astronauts was sent to the NASA Administration in 2012:
March 28, 2012
The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr. NASA Administrator NASA Headquarters Washington, D.C. 20546-0001
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.
The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.
As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.
For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.
Thank you for considering this request. Sincerely, (Attached signatures)
CC: Mr. John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for Science CC: Ass Mr. Chris Scolese, Director, Goddard Space Flight Center
Ref: Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, dated 3-26-12, regarding a request for NASA to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims that human produced CO2 is having a catastrophic impact on climate change.
A copy of this petition and signatories can be found at:
In 2017 Dr. Richard Lindzen sent a petition to President Donald Trump with more than 300 signatures from eminent scientists and other qualified individuals from around the world.
The petition stated:
“We petition the American and other governments to change course on an outdated international agreement that targets minor greenhouse gases, primarily Carbon Dioxide, CO2 for harsh regulation. Since 2009, the US and other governments have undertaken actions with respect to global climate that are not scientifically justified and that already have, and will continue to cause serious social and economic harm-with no environmental benefits.”
“Restricting access to fossil fuels has very negative effects upon the wellbeing of people around the world. It condemns over 4 billion people in still underdeveloped countries to continued poverty.”
A copy of the petition with signatories can be located at:
In 2019 a group of Italian scientists sent a petition to the President of the Italian Republic, the President of the Italian Senate, the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the President of the Italian Government.
The petition stated:
1. We must be aware that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant. On the contrary, like water, it is an indispensible element for the life on our planet.
2. The claim that the observed warming has been induced by anthropogenic activity is an unproven conjecture that has been deduced only from some climate models.
3. The anthropogenic responsibility for the climate change observed during the last century is exaggerated.
4. Climate simulation models do not reproduce the observed natural variability of the climate at multiple time scales.
5. The scientific method requires that the facts, and not the number of adherents, make a conjecture a theory.
A copy of the Italian petition with signatories can be located at:
A recent international petition, with signatures from more than 300 scientists from more than 15 countries challenges the claim from climate alarmists that only scientists from a handful of countries are skeptical of climate alarmism.
This international petition states:
1. Climate change is a fact. The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with naturally-driven cold and warm cycles.
2. After leaving the Little Ice Age (around 1870 AD), it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a warming-up period. This is fully in line with the natural behavior of the climate system. However, measurements show that the temperature-increase is significantly less than mainstream models predict.
3. Anthropogenic Global Warming is only a hypothesis. There exists no proof that anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the principal cause of global warming. On the contrary, latest insights confirm that more CO2 has only a modest influence on climate. In addition, more CO2 is hugely beneficial for agriculture, forestry, and for the photosynthesis that is the basis of life on Earth.
4. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that increasing CO2 levels have an enhancing effect on natural disasters. Quite the reverse, there are many indications that most CO2-reduction measures have a devastating effect on wildlife, land use and economic development.
5. Energy policy must be based on scientific and economic realities. We argue strongly against a harmful and unrealistic “2050-carbon-neutral policy”. There is no climate emergency and therefore no cause for panic and alarm. If superior approaches emerge, we will have ample time to reflect and transition. Our aim should always be reliable and affordable energy at all times.
A copy of the international petition with signatories can be located at:
Claims are also made by climate alarmists that there are only a handful of peer-reviewed, published papers that argue against the notion of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
Such claims are also false.
“1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm” can be found here:
Claims are often made by climate alarmists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that the trivial amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (400 ppm) is the dominant driver of climate change. The role of the sun was all but ignored by the IPCC despite there being more than 100 peer-reviewed, published papers that point to the role of solar activity and its impact on global climate.
These can be found at:
The next time anyone tells you that only a handful of scientists from a handful of countries reject global warming alarmism or that there are only a handful of peer-reviewed, published papers that reject the mantra of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, they are either misinformed or spinning a deliberate lie.
Dr. John Happs M.Sc.1st Class; D.Phil. John has an academic background in the geosciences with special interests in climate, and paleoclimate. He has been a science educator at several universities in Australia and overseas and was President of the Western Australian Skeptics for 25 years.