What we find is happening more and more is that climate change Denialists has taken an alternative route to the topic of climate change. Rather than completely dismissing climate change altogether, they acknowledge its existence (though very wearily) but will instead downplay its severity. For example, a highly well-known climate change Denialist site is Wattsupwiththat. This site is an excellent example of integrating scientific evidence with wishful thinking in order to give the impression that they do know what they’re talking about. They are also incredibly subtle in their denialism so as not to appear completely foolish to an audience with differing amounts of knowledge or experience on the topic. In doing so, they not only reach a greater amount of people, but they also earn their trust.
One example of this is an article they published on sea level rise with the following heading:
Whilst this kind of headline may be easier to digest than say warnings of large cities being swallowed by the ocean in the future…
It does very little to highlight the actual impact continually rising sea levels will have such as damaging coastal ecosystems, frequent flooding, and negatively affecting the economy (which is something you probably hadn’t thought of). Instead, it goes out of its way to squeeze in multiple sources that are filled with complex mathematics and scientific jargon.
“From the IPCC FAR Chapter 5.5.2: Holgate and Woodworth (2004) estimated a rate of 1.7 ± 0.4 mm yr–1 sea level change averaged along the global coastline during the period 1948 to 2002, based on data from 177 stations divided into 13 regions. Church et al. (2004) (discussed further below) determined a global rise of 1.8 ± 0.3 mm yr–1 during 1950 to 2000, and Church and White (2006) determined a change of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm yr–1 for the 20th century.”
How could the everyday person even begin to interpret all this? The answer is simple. They don’t. But the mere fact that they can’t will often encourage them to side with the notion that “it’s not a big deal” because it’s been confidently explained that it isn’t. The topic of rising sea levels is somewhat tricky. Levels vary because it all depends on how much ice melts, which is of course sometimes unpredictable. This makes it an easy target for Denialists due to the changing information that can be found online. We encourage greater depth of research to fact-check claims made by Denialists. And, if you’re unsure whether you’ve stumbled upon a Denialist site, fact-check it anyway. There’s nothing wrong with gaining a bit of extra knowledge, especially when it’s on climate change.