Saturday, May 27, 2006

How to be a Climate Change Denier

I am going to plagiarize myself once again. This is expanded from a comment I made on Michael Plank's Content yesterday:
How to be a
Climate Change Denier

1. Climate change? What "climate change"?
2. It's all a myth. Not happening.
3. And we had nothing to do with it, so there's no point in changing what we're doing.
4. Besides, people pay good money to travel to the tropics each year. Now they don't have to travel so far!

An Inconvenient Truth opened in theaters yesterday and according to the IMDb it has a "user rating" of 5.9 out of 10. This is a little surprising given the pre-opening reviews I've read. A look at the message boards for this movie reveals what's going on.*

It's no secret that lots of products are pushed by "street teams" - people whose job it is to evangelize, to sing the praises of a product to everyone within earshot. Music labels have teams of people whose job it is to call TRL on MTV and tell them that the song they really really want to vote for is whatever song they've been told to vote for, over and over again. Movies are the same way: any studio that gives a damn about a movie it's releasing has teams of people singing the praises of the movie on the IMDb, regardless of whether or not they've seen it.

Given the subject matter of the movie (climate change) and the identity of its star (Al Gore) it's pretty obvious that the movie would also attract its share of haters. But the people who are putting in a concerted effort to derail this film are not simple haters; they're Climate Change Deniers. Some of them have even expressed items 1 and 2 from my list above, which means they never got the memo. The official Climate Change Denial line is currently closer to Item 3: Climate change is happening, but it's the result of natural cycles. And volcanoes. And trees, trees that emit greenhouse gasses. (And whaddya want, another Ice Age? We're fighting hard to keep that from happening!)

Climate Change Deniers ride in the same cart with Holocaust Deniers and Flat Earthers and Young Earthers and Evolution Deniers and the "there's nothing wrong with secondhand smoke" crowd. Faced with "facts" presented by "scientists", they quickly roll out their own anointed and approved experts to present contradictory facts. Have you ever read a Holocaust Denier's screed? Have you ever had a Young Earther full of piss and vinegar and crap and the Holy Spirit harangue you about how all this "fossil" stuff is nonsense, how dinosaurs were killed by humans who brought on an Ice Age by causing an inversion of the Thermosphere or something like that? Have you ever seen the Tobacco Industry's defense of the health benefits of smoking, circa 1950? I have. It's scary.

We hear that there is no consensus among scientists on climate change. That's like saying there's no consensus among historians on the Holocaust, because the Holocaust Deniers are always ready to bring in some crackpot who will claim to have proof that there were never that many Jews in Germany and Poland to start off with, and those who died died of natural causes, and besides, they're just Jews and gypsies and homosexuals, so who cares?

Don't believe the Deniers. See the movie with an open mind. Read what scientists - real scientists, not industry puppets - have to say on the subject.

And then do something about it.

*Actually, looking at the distribution of user ratings makes it just as clear. Out of 464 IMDb users who gave ratings:

257 (55.4%) rated it a 10 (highest rating possible)
34 (7.3%) gave it a 9
8 (1.7%) gave it an 8
4 (0.9%) gave it a 7
5 (1.1%) gave it a 6
5 (1.1%) gave it a 5
2 (0.4%) gave it a 4
10 (2.2%) gave it a 3
32 (6.9%) gave it a 2
107 (23.1%) gave it a 1 (lowest rating possible)

That's what we in the statistics biz call a "bimodal distribution".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a comment to signal you that you are being read. Nice post.