Global warming campaigners present fallacies

While some climate change skeptics are also guilty of unproductive rhetoric, the arguments of letter writers Bruce R. Bachmann (“Climate change denial costs us,” Sept. 27) and David Anderson (“Consider climate change information source,” Sept. 29) illustrate how global warming campaigners contribute their own brands of poison to the conversation.

Bachmann and Anderson used exactly the sort of logical fallacies (errors in reasoning) that I discussed in my June 10 column (“Why we need ‘calm’ approach to climate change.”) Because these logic mistakes permeate the global warming debate, it is important to identify them when they occur with the hope that others will not fall into the same misguided thinking patterns.

Here are the logical fallacies committed by Bachmann and Anderson, (see for International Climate Science Coalition’s detailed discussion):

l Guilt by association.

l Straw Man (arguments based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position).

l Motive intent (the arguments of a person with a vested interest are necessarily wrong).

l Appeal to emotion.

l Thought-terminating cliché, “save the children” being the most common.

l Red Herring.

Rather than learning enough to make up their own minds as to who is right or wrong in the climate change controversy, many people commit the same logical errors as did Bachmann and Anderson. But that is no reason for the rest of us to follow. Although deciphering the causes of climate change is one of the most complex scientific challenges ever, one we may never really solve, we can at least learn to think straight.

Tom Harris

Executive director,

International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Ottawa, Canada 

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