Deniers: Are They the New “Birthers”?

August 21, 2013

Well, in some cases, like His Excellent and Serene Highness Lord Monckton, birthers and climate deniers are the same people – see below.

What’s interesting about the video above, last night’s “Hardball” interview with Mike Mann, and a republican strategist, is the defensive tone the GOPer takes when challenged about republican science denial and climate denial in particular. For laughs, watch the slightly amused look on Mike Mann’s face about 6:35, where Mathew’s kind of stuffs the “only God can destroy the world” argument in fine, bulletproof style.  Not a huge Mathews fan, but he does well here.

In the piece below, E&E News fills in the details of an emerging strategy.

E&E News:

President Obama’s strongest supporters are executing a play that feels familiar after four years: Use humor and social media to marginalize Republicans as extreme and out of touch on all fronts, from substantive legislation on topics such as immigration to ephemera on the level of unfounded conservative suspicions that the commander in chief was not born in America.

This time, however, the fodder is climate change.

The nonprofit created to promote Obama’s priorities, Organizing for Action (OFA), put together a climate staff in May and last week launched a campaign that handed out unicorn trophies to 135 congressional Republicans who have raised doubts about humans’ role in climate change. These “Denier Awards” made a splashy stage for Obama backers to pre-empt GOP resistance to U.S. EPA emissions rules — while signaling that the president’s team sees a chance to build a national stage for an issue he was savaged as too silent on during his re-election run.

“You’re beginning to hear the Obama team say, ‘OK, you’re going to attack us? It doesn’t make sense for us to ignore it. Let’s heighten these distinctions, let’s expose these individuals,'” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication, said in an interview. “It plays into a broader narrative about the distinctions between the two parties.”

“What they’re doing is socially and morally stigmatizing those political opponents who deny the science of climate change,” Nisbet said in an interview.

“So instead of leaving the middle-ground public to be caught in these cross-pressures as the issue gains more salience for them, instead of it just being a ‘he said, she said’-type echo chamber, they’re sending a very strong message: … Just like the birther claims were wrong and morally outrageous, and ‘death panels’ were wrong and morally outrageous, so are climate [deniers wrong] when people’s health and safety are at risk.”

The “high-end viral potential” of the unicorn-trophies strategy contrasts with the cap-and-trade era during Obama’s first term, when “the issue was discussed almost exclusively in technocratic terms,” Nisbet added. He and Leiserowitz of Yale University agreed that OFA’s new approach is well-suited to engage sectors of the public previously distant from the risks of greenhouse gas emissions, even if it does not pay off at the ballot box against Republicans.

“It’s fairly easy to make them a laughingstock,” DiMartino said of the 135 Republicans, “because most people believe that what 97 or 98 percent of scientists say is probably right.”

I’m particularly stoked about recent developments since the president’s speech in june, in that the term “climate denier” has become standard short-hand for the anti-science movement. When I started the “Climate Denial Crock” series years ago, it was considered somewhat politically incorrect and over the top to use the “D” word, with all the connotations – but in fact, we are dealing with actual clinically diagnosable denial here, as powerful as that in any alcoholic or drug addicted dysfunctional family.  My point has always been that, not to use the word “denial” – is to be in denial yourself.

Using the term “deniers” rather than the milder “skeptics” reinforces the dichotomy Obama supporters hope to create between defenders of national action on emissions and Republicans pushing to slash EPA funding. Chris Prandoni, federal affairs manager at the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, argued that the D-word obscures some nuance in GOP views on the matter.

Below, His Esteemed and Omniscient Splendiferousness waxes eloquent for a wildly appreciative audience at the Heartland Institute – on Obama’s birth certificate –


15 Responses to “Deniers: Are They the New “Birthers”?”

  1. omnologos Says:

    when you’re in a long-drawn fight and you’re convinced your enemy is an idiot, you’re by far your worst enemy

    this applies to Monckton, and to the not-so-bright Obama climate strategists too

    • It is not that we are convinced they (enemy) are idiots. It is the fact that they are lying for their finical and political benefit over reality.

      FYI: The next New “Birthers” Mega-Hearing aka The House GOP Mega-Hearing on Climate Change will be on September 18 with questions directed on how much wasteful sending on questionable science. Just in time for the EPA Sept. 20 deadline to announce regulations and the IPCC Working Group I report release.

      I should point out that all are not lying but some are just idiots in the House;-)

      Also too: You do realize that Monckton (the brain trust of Watts and company) is a self-proclaimed Obama Birther.

  2. I’d call deniers anti-lifers — the more dangerous incarnation of birther…

  3. Omno, Given that deniers have drawn this fight out far beyond its rational expiration date, “idiots” is not their most appropriate pejorative adjective. They’ve been very successful.

    On the other hand, given the overwhelming scientific evidence for the severe risk posed by instantaneously jamming millions of years of geologically sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, maybe “our side’s” failure to capture the public’s attention can appropriately be described as intellectually deficient. Do you have a constructive suggestion for Obama’s climate strategists?

    • omnologos Says:

      Yes. Find a common issue that nobody, nobody can disagree upon, then drive it home. That’s a must, as they repeatedly failed to learn the art of getting the Congress to approve your proposals.

      Unfortunately, Obama is no LBJ. Somebody in the Democratic Party will start one day to consider why this Presidency has resulted in nothing tangible, health reform aside. Republicans=Baddies won’t work as an explanation, as no President has ever had to deal with a sympathetic Congress

      • Omno, Within the realm of science/climate/energy. what is an issue that nobody can disagree upon?

        • omnologos Says:

          eg black soot

          but could be something else, like a programme to provide.poor households with the means to keep their homes at 60F minimum year round

          • jpcowdrey Says:


            You have a very weak grasp of US politics and you are not making sense. As industrial soot is removed through better scrubbing technology, so will NOX and SOX cooling particulates be reduced, negating any benefit, while in the meantime soot from increasing wildfires exacerbates the problem. It is a half-assed partial non-solution.

            A revenue neutral carbon tax with an universal rebate as proposed by James Hansen would go a long way toward enabling the poor achieving the end you seek. So there is nothing original in your proposal. Would it stick in your craw so sharply, that you cannot give credit where it is due?

            Though you may not be anymore a denier, strictly speaking, you seem to have reached the last redoubt of denial, and willingly an enabler of denial. Namely, though you admit AGW is real and dangerous, you regularly imply through vague and scurrilous intimations the fault lies with those who have warned of its danger for not communicating the risk clearly enough, or, it would seem, suitable to your tender sensibilities. You are the worst kind of cynic, and your mind is a toxic mess.

            Get professional help.

          • omnologos Says:

            JP – somebody here needs professional help, I agree

  4. But climate change can’t destroy the world. It probably can’t even destroy civilization. But how may households or even countries might be destroyed?

    • jcl64 Says:

      How can you be so sure? The estimates show that temperatures can climb as high as +3C and above by the end of the century with business as usual emission scenarios – which will no doubt change ecosystems in such a way that it will profoundly affect industrial civilization. Already we are witnessing a growing rate of acidfication in the oceans that is 10 times that of past extinction events. If temperatures rise in the oceans we can trigger serious anoxic events.

      A shift towards more drought and flood events is also not very compatible with civilization. Add on top of this the fact that a lot of our cities are by the oceans which will experience ocean rise.

      And climate change doesn’t end in 2100 – it continues, so even if there was “just” 1 meter of water rise by 2100 – it wont stop there. At a certain point in warming the land ice melt is practically irreversible due to reinforcing positive feedbacks.

      And I haven’t even mentioned methane emissions. I believe the IPCC is very careful in their estimates because they simply don’t know enough about the rate of methane emission we can expect for each degree of warming. We don’t even know if the change will be a trickle or happen in major bursts. Assuming best case doesn’t seem to be the wise choice considering how wrong we were in how fast the Arctic would melt away.

      I am not sure industrial civilization can keep up the costs of servicing and replacing infrastructure and adapt fast enough as well as energy access is dwindling with climate change on top of this.

  5. […] explains: Well, in some cases, like His Excellent and Serene Highness Lord Monckton, birthers and climate deniers are the same people – see below. […]

  6. I have to disagree. Deniers aren’t the new birthers – they are the new creationists.

  7. […] affects weak minded malcontents.  There are man made global warming deniers,  9/11 deniers,  Obama birth certificate deniers and so […]

  8. […] Question for Republicans in congress. How many more important electoral issues do you want to be on the losing side of? […]

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