Climate change denial, in thin leftist wrapping paper

I just read (briefly) an interview with Denis Rancourt, a professor at the University of Ottawa who claims climate change is not happening and that talk of climate change serves oil companies. My quick reaction is that this is like Michael Deibert on Haiti or Irshad Manji on Israel/Palestine and terror – reactionary politics wrapped up in some thin progressive language to either dupe or confuse leftists who would otherwise be the most solid advocates of progress (or decent survival). It will take more looking into his work to know the details, but I find his explanation for lay people unconvincing:

“I argue that there is no reliable evidence that the global average Earth surface temperature has increased in recent decades. I argue this by making a critique of how such trends are extracted, inferred and extrapolated from incomplete and artifact-laden data. I explain melting glaciers and receding permafrost as more probably arising from radiative mechanisms, linked to particulate pollution, land use/cover changes, and solar variations, rather than global warming. And I argue that atmospheric CO2 does not control climate, but is at best a witness of global changes. These arguments are technical but I have tried to present them as simply and clearly as possible in the article.

Radiative mechanisms, land/use cover changes, and solar variations – rather than global warming? And that the ice isn’t melting because of increases in temperature? Science advances through counterintuitive results, but that doesn’t make counterintuitive results true.

“More importantly, I argue that the real threat (the most destructive force on the planet) is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might and that you cannot control a monster by asking it not to shit as much. I argue that non-democratic control of the economy and institutionalized exploitation of the Third World (and all workers) must be confronted directly if we are to install sanity.”

This is a nonsequitur. It gets into political strategy, and what he says here is partly obvious and partly dubious (since no one serious is really saying what he is arguing against), but in any case has nothing to do with climate change or his claims about why the ice sheets are melting or that the average temperature has not increased.

Monbiot’s book, Heat, opens with four questions:

1. Does the atmosphere contain carbon dioxide?
2. Does atmospheric carbon dioxide raise the average global temperature?
3. Will this influence be enhanced by the addition of more carbon dioxide?
4. Have human activities led to a net emission of carbon dioxide?

To get the answers they have liked to these questions, the denial industry has had to pay PR people to falsify scientific claims to set progress back a decade. Now someone like Rancourt comes along and answers them negatively, dismissing climate scientists as “political” and “consensus-driven” but from the left, instead of from the right. I suppose the timing was ripe for something like this, but I truly hope that people do not get fooled.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

3 thoughts on “Climate change denial, in thin leftist wrapping paper”

  1. Rancout
    I wrote to the Dominion saying they shouldn’t have published him – any more than they should publish some one like Deibert. Let the corporate press supply that nonsense.

    Joe

    1. Speaking of leftist climate change denial
      (or at least denial that human activies are in any way significant to the process), take a look at Alex Cockburn’s recent piece, published in CounterPunch, The Nation and on ZNet. I was pretty shocked when I read it, considering who it’s coming from.

      Apparently, RealClimate.org are preparing a detailed rebuttal.

  2. While I don’t agree with
    While I don’t agree with Rancourt’s assertions, I think part of his agenda is commendable: stop trying to find reformist remedies and confront the problem at its root. I think you are wrong to identify the second quote as a non-sequitur. I think the point of the second quote is directed at reformists who see corporations as an important part of the solution. In Gore’s book he softens his criticism of business and then touts it as an important ally. Rancourt is trying to dismantle that perspective and push a more radical perspective. While I think climate change is real, I do think the leftist focus on it is again focusing on a symptom rather than the problem.

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