The dangers of challenging the climate change consensus
One of the easiest things to do is to go along to get along. This is true in so many areas of life, including knowledge of science topics. If you don't have an in-depth knowledge of a particular area of science, the "easiest thing" kicks in rather effortlessly.
Alternatively, if you have a depth of knowledge on a particular science topic, things can get a whole lot harder, especially if you challenge the prevailing view on that topic.
We find ourselves in this situation today not only with disputes regarding the COVID-19 origin and strategies to counteract the virus but with the pre-pandemic hot topic of climate change.
Presently, the ramp-up of the climate crisis is waiting in the wings for the exit of the malicious microbe. As the spotlight turns from virus hysteria, the beam will shine back on climate angst and its attendant tactics like childish name-calling.
Negative nomenclature like "climate denier" will continue against challengers to the consensus crisis status of climate change. Regardless, just because someone challenges the status quo doesn't mean they deny reality such as climate change. This is a straw-man argument.
In my 40-year professional career, which included attending numerous American Meteorological Society and Air & Waste Management Association meetings, I have never met an atmospheric scientist who has serious reservations about the consensus view of climate change and is also a climate denier or climate change denier. "Denier" is juvenile, insulting pejorative jargon typically disgorged by those on the political/ideological left. And worse, "denier" is reminiscent of "Holocaust denier." The term continues to be used to disparage those who question the supposedly unassailable certainty of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
Credentialed atmospheric science practitioners who dare to challenge the "settled science" of climate change know of the reality of such chutzpa. This cheekiness has its consequences. Reality bites.
No challenger wants to get blacklisted or de-platformed or lose an opportunity for good grant money or miss a chance for an advanced degree or end his science career. These dire consequences are the reality of today's atmosphere and must be factored into the research, evaluation, and publication of climate change matter. Such consequences make up the sharp edge of the sword of Damocles that hangs over the heads of those who might consider a different horizon for humans comforted by a combination of fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable resources.
From the left's view, the way to defeat those who have a different perspective is to call them names and blacklist them. The only reason this strategy succeeds is because those in control, usually leftists themselves, allow such negativity to happen so that their "truth" is accepted at all costs. Apparently, the fate of civilization depends on adherence to leftists with the imbued insight of the future of Earth's atmosphere that is overly burdened by the emissions of modern living.
Certainly, human activity has an impact on the environment, but not all of it is bad. And most of the bad can be mitigated with reasonable action — action that can be informed by disparate perspectives.
Silencing, intimidating, or otherwise discouraging alternate viewpoints will harm the understanding of the atmospheric environment and will slow, if not prevent, effective and efficient solutions to authentic climate change challenges.
Anthony J. Sadar, a certified consulting meteorologist, is author of In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail (Stairway Press, 2016).