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Future thieves are beyond reason

By Elizabeth Dangerfield

The trouble with reasonable people is that they are so reasonable. They play by the rules. They tolerate the intolerable. They try to conquer their prejudices and see the best in people. But even more importantly they think about things, they are open to different views. They seek knowledge and will change their minds if the evidence warrants it. They demonstrate the best in human nature.

There is an unwritten rule that reasonable people must always be reasonable – patient, understanding and uncritical of others, gently hoping that reason will prevail whilst unreasonable people, people who are unmoved by reason, demand that their opinion be considered as equally valid to those who have expertise in the matter. And when our inaction on global warming is heading us towards calamity and the end of the world as we know it, reasonable people are supposed to go quietly into the night.

There is a war being waged against reasonableness and it seems in many places that war is being won by the unreasonable at great costs to our planet and our future. The huge volume of evidence that global warming is caused by industrialisation, particularly the use of fossil fuels; all the predictions over the years that have come to be; the meticulous and extensive research that has been undertaken; the scrutiny and examination of the data; the debates and peer reviews; the many comprehensive reports that have been published; the highly regarded institutions, the thousands of scientists and the 6 million protesters around the world, who have come out in support of action on climate change; none of this has had an impact on climate change deniers.

They are immune to such things. Why? Because their views on climate change are not driven by reason but something more primal. They simply don’t want to believe in anthropogenic climate change because they fear it will take away from them something they value, or they arrogantly believe they know best. Reading the comments of climate change deniers gives a glimpse of what underlies their resistance to accepting the fact of climate change and its impact.

Al Gore hit the nail on the head when he described climate change as an inconvenient truth. Inconvenient to people’s comfortable lives and comfortable beliefs. Many influential climate deniers have vested interests in industries that produce or use fossil fuels. Others don’t want to disrupt the current way of doing business. They don’t want things to change because it might threaten their interests, disrupt their lives and challenge their beliefs. Tied in with this is a mindset that has enormous prejudice against environmentalists who they see as the enemy. Renewable energy cannot be any good because environmentalists have been recommending it for years just as they have been warning about the perils of over population, loss of biodiversity, pollution, destruction of the environment and global warming. To turn around and admit that that the environmentalists were correct is just impossible. So, what do they do instead?

They mount campaigns to discredit institutions, groups and individuals who support action on climate change. These campaigns exaggerate, misrepresent, and simplify arguments to support their position. They use sympathetic media and social media to publish and broadcast falsehoods and misinformation on climate change. They lie with impunity. They are waging an online war against those who support action on climate change through thousands of trolls and bots who use disgraceful language and cyberbullying to intimidate and overwhelm those targeted.

Climate deniers at government level stymie institutions or individuals whose work is likely to support action on climate change by abolishing them, reducing funding, gagging them or stripping them of powers. They fill positions in government and other bodies involved in climate change, such as ministers for the environment, with climate deniers so it is easy to suppress information that confirms climate change is happening. When criticism becomes too much, they pretend to be doing something about climate change while not doing anything effective at all. In fact, they cheat, lie and obfuscate. They label those who protest as eco-terrorists. It is surprising how easily people fall for propaganda and marketing ploys.

Influential climate deniers in the media, gain supporters by appealing to people’s prejudices by applying derogative labels to people and groups who support action on climate change. In fact, they demonise such people. They foster a belief in hearsay, innuendo and conspiracy theories. That makes it easy to dismiss all those thousands of scientists who have clearly and respectfully warned us about the perils of climate change – just convince people they are all part of a worldwide conspiracy to scam us – that takes care of them! This is made easy by the wilful ignorance that everyday climate change deniers repeatedly demonstrate. They do not bother to read any scientific reports on climate change research or even summaries, or to check any facts to do with the issue, and they steadfastly refuse to pay any attention to experts in the field. It is easy to dismiss the arguments in favour of climate change if you have never listened to them.

Climate deniers often base their opposition to climate change firmly on ideology and prejudice. They also use religious beliefs to justify their confidence that nothing needs to be done about global warming. And of course, they can delude themselves into believing they are smarter, more knowledgeable and superior than all those who support climate change action.

But the worse thing climate change deniers do is that they refuse to undertake any assessment of the risks associated with acting on climate change compared with the risks associated with not taking any action to reduce the impact on climate change. This is totally unreasonable especially given the time critical aspect of climate change. We know that with our current lack of effective and concerted global action on climate change it is probable that global warming will rise to 2°C by mid-century and 3-4°C by 2100. Even 1.1°C we are experiencing now is having a drastic impact, 2°C will have an extreme impact on the world but 3 – 4°C will create hell on Earth. Millions of people will be displaced, millions and millions of people will die, up to a million species of living things will become extinct. Ecosystems will be irrevocably damaged, and if tipping points are reached the Earth could become an out of control hothouse. The impact of phasing out the fossil fuel industry has nothing on this.

Reasonable people may be reluctant to condemn climate deniers because they recognise that people are the product of their upbringing, education and experiences. They may believe we should try to persuade them gently and respectfully and give up when we cause any upset. In the meantime, unreasonable people sweep reasonableness aside and when confronted with opinions they don’t like resort to swearing, personal insults, false information and subterfuge and do what they want regardless of the evidence. But like drunk drivers, no matter how nice they are when sober, they need to be called to account when their actions cause harm.

Collectively, climate change deniers are condemning future generations to a terrible future which could have been avoided. They are future thieves and they must take responsibility for what they are doing. We should no longer tolerate these unreasonable people who are wilfully ignorant, self-serving and short-sighted and who are having such a huge influence on us already.

I am not saying we should treat them in the appalling way many of them have treated those who advocate for action on climate change. I am happy to have a respectful conversation with anyone who has doubts about climate change and is prepared to be open minded. But that is a very slow process and meanwhile the war on reasonableness continues. So, I no longer intend to politely pass by the incredibly unreasonable comments and assertions made by climate deniers. Such silences sell out future generations. I am now prepared to tell the truth – I don’t agree with you, you are incorrect, in fact you are totally wrong.

We should challenge climate deniers on every opportunity, not by providing them with factual information, we have tried that, but by challenging their motives, their unwillingness to change, their prejudices and unreasonableness, their intellectual laziness, their lack of credentials, their bias, lack of substance and their lack of caring. We should call them for what they are – future thieves and environmental vandals who are committing crimes against humanity. If you think this is harsh, just remember history show us it is unreasonable people who usually kill off the reasonable. We are reaching the end of the road to salvation and climate deniers are blocking the way forward.

References and Further Reading

What the Earth might look like in 80 years if we’re lucky (and we manage to do something effective about climate change) – and if we’re not (and climate deniers prevail)!

Scientists hate to say ‘I told you so’. But Australia, you were warned, Bill Steffen, The Conversation.

I tried to warn Scott Morrison about the bushfire disaster. Adapting to climate change isn’t enough, Greg Mullins, The Guardian.

Former Australian fire chiefs say Coalition ignored their advice because of climate change politics, Naaman Zhou, The Guardian.

UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That, By David Wallace-Wells, NYMag.

A crying shame: humanity sleepwalking to disaster, Ian Bayly, The Age.

I lost my home in the South Coast bushfires. Here’s what I’d like to say to the PM, Nick Hopkins, The Canberra Times.

‘It’s all about vested interests’: untangling conspiracy, conservatism and climate scepticism, Graham Readfearn, The Guardian.

How Murdoch’s myrmidons murdered climate policy, Michael Pascoe, The New Daily.

The Evidence Brief for a Climate Trial Against Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison, Situation Theatre.

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  1. Yes Minister

    I’m the most UN-reasonable and cynical SOB on planet earth. Same goes for pre-election ‘promses’ . Any utterance by the mainstream media, fraudbook tragics or official muppets is automatically discounted as male bovine dropping. Same goes for pre-election ‘promises’, in the absence of a stat dec, I fall back on the adage ‘if its a politician and its lips are moving …..’

  2. JudithW

    Daughter was talking about a friend who she values, despite her right wing politics and creationist bent. My daughter commented that while her friend seems to openly scoff at her view of evolution, her green politics, and her view that we are in a climate catastrophe caused by over use of fossil fuel, causing her to avoid these topics for the sake of their friendship, her friend has no such reservations and would, most likely, be somewhat offended if my daughter similarly denigrated her friend’s beliefs.
    My daughter is a reasonable person.

  3. Ill fares the land

    The sad fact of the climate change argument is that many people who regard themselves as reasonable and are starting to expect governments to deal with climate change in an adult way. But many of that “many” are themselves unwilling to change their lifestyles and the reason for that is we are captivated by the demands of visible affluence and competitive consumerism.

    We think that we can’t make a difference at a personal level so we transfer expectations and fears onto governments. No single raindrop is responsible for a flood and that is virtually the argument we hear from our conservative governments (“Australia only produces 1.3% of global pollution” despite that we pollute more per capita than any other country) and it is the reason we prefer to do nothing and argue that whatever we do is irrelevant – the “tragedy of the commons” writ large. We have been convinced, overwhelmingly, that we need more powerful cars, SUV’s and dual cabs for various reasons – either because of the attention they will apparently draw to ourselves (“designed for attention”); because they are bigger than other cars so you can achieve dominance on the road (“eats utes for breakfast”) or the envy they will provoke (“they bought a Jeep”). It is marketers that have us wanting and buying bigger houses that can only effectively be heated and cooled with reverse-cycle that is on 24/7 in the heat of summer and the coldest days of winter and a whole host of other things we regard as essential to our “modern lives” when it is our “wants” that are being manipulated by governments and commercial interests (aka, the rich and powerful).

    I’m not suggesting that everything has to happen at the individual level, but we need to align our lifestyle choices with our expectations of government. Our government is not changing its behaviour and neither are we. Who is more wrong?

  4. Phil Pryor

    People who lie, or repeat lies, or do not know truth and thus go along with lying orthodoxy are.., LIARS. they get up and go, telling lies each day. Some anuses never try to find out truth, never care about truth. Many just talk a story, hear and read one and repeat it, and thus.., LIE. I tend to speak loudly, rudely, directly, in the face, denouncing lies and LIARS. Climate change is the worst area, for U N O reports and other evidence from learned people and organisations are available and have been for decades. In Australia, the rural boofheads, the country party types, listen to old poxhead, repeat Murdoch maggot media muck, and do not seem aware that a century of that by forebears has completely ruined much of Australia’s environment. The place is dried out, depleted, eroded, buggered, wrecked. But orthodox, corporate, consuming, overusing life has gripped people in a slavery of intellect. People do not care to change.

  5. corvusboreus

    So your daughter is in a silently submissive relationship with an ignorant bigot who berates her with fallacious crap?
    Sounds unsustainable.

  6. Kaye Lee

    A leading UK climate scientist has used the Facebook page of the MP Craig Kelly to correct his “blatant misrepresentation” of a study she co-authored on a 70,000-year history of bushfires in Australia.

    Prof Sandy Harrison told Guardian Australia: “I am a working scientist and I do not routinely engage in arguments on social media, but I do not think that the misuse of scientific analyses should be allowed to go unchallenged.”

  7. pierre wilkinson

    regrettably, even the most balanced of arguments usually gets turned into a fallacious accusation that one desires to stop using all fossil fuels immediately… and so Labor was trapped into wanting action but supposedly acting too slowly in their commitment to stop coal
    a phasing into the change necessary is rarely considered in the emotive outpourings of deniers
    it is always accusations of impossibilities
    or ad hominem attacks

  8. Kaye Lee


    I had a similar situation recently. There are a group of six of us who have been friends since high school – we know each other’s parents, siblings and kids, spouses and exes.. The connection is long and deep, like the family you choose..

    At lunch the other day, one of them started on the arsonists thing. I reasonably agreed that it was a low act but whatever the ignition cause, climate change was making the fires so bad. “Don’t talk to me about climate change, what a load of rubbish that is”. I was only able to splutter a sentence or two before one of the girls suggested we go to the toilet. All of the others knew I was about to explode and they just wanted to enjoy lunch.

    I have decided I won’t go to lunch if she is going any more. I know her well. No argument will change her mind. A friend of decades lost.

  9. Keitha Granville

    The denialists, those who rubbish the Gretas of the world, are safe in their ivory towers. They will not be the ones who suffer as the planet dies. They will have enough food, enough air, enough water, enough of everything. They will simply observe from their lofty spots as humanity starves and burns below them.

    And they can jump into their buckets of gold and cash and diamonds.

    That’s why they don’t care. They are not reasonable, they are selfish.

  10. Greg

    Just don’t engage with them on social media at all. The algorithms just push their nonsense to the top when you do.

  11. Jexpat

    Kaye Lee:

    Having recently disengaged with a science denier (who wasn’t always that way) I can well relate.

    “I know her well. No argument will change her mind.”

    Sadly, it’s likely in my situation that if I and others had simply not put up with the repeated dishonesty and budding sociopathic attitudes in this and other areas -basically, if we had cut her off earlier on, years ago she wouldn’t have gone so far down that track.

  12. wam

    The killer for deniers is ‘belief’. Science has little influence over belief. Reason has even less influence as you cannot use a reasonable argument against someone’s unreasoned position.
    My argument is to not use the words of deniers but to remind them of a pea souper when the poms burnt coal. Then to suggest we got rich on fossil fuels and still need them. So how are the 6 billion non-europeans going to get rich???
    Only the diehards say ‘fck-em’ most say Australian coal.

    Patience is needed as god is close to deciding the success at the polls depends on action so smirko et al will act.

  13. corvusboreus

    (some gratuitous relationship advice from the personally dysfunctional)

    So long as you don’t allow a desire to avoid confrontation to cause distance to grow between you and the more reasonably sane members of your group of friends.
    If you are choosing to cut someone out of your life because they are so loud with lies and hostile to truth that it makes further civil interaction impossible, this should be explained to those who query the reason for your decision to disassociate, rather than merely stepping back and allowing an unconscionable shit-dribbler to give their take on the reasons for the rift.
    We can’t continue to allow bullshitting loud mouths to monopolise the mic without challenge.

  14. Frustrated

    What does Australia think will happen? When the shit hits the fan in other parts of the world and we are exporting huge amounts of coal we will become enemy number 1, not the people buying it, all they want is the same as the western world already has.

    Make no mistake climate change will hit Australia harder than a lot of other places but by then we will be the laughing stock and with our reputation for ignorance and cruelty not a lot of help will come our way.

    And guess what? Democracy won’t suit the world when it gets worse, step back and you will see we are heading already along with other democracies towards autocratic rule. After all it doesn’t matter what the people think when we’re all screwed does it. The only important thing will be control to prevent the masses getting what’s left.

    It’s already too late, it doesn’t matter who you unfriend or argue with.

  15. Kaye Lee


    I am going away with the other girls in a couple of months to tour round the NT – the denier wasn’t invited. It’s a great shame but I just can’t keep quiet any longer and no-one wants a shit fight on holidays. And it isn’t just the denialism – she is a Liberal voter through and through, illegal immigrants, dole bludgers, whingers, the whole box and dice. I haven’t been game to ever ask what she thinks of Poorlene. I feel a loss – she was my bridesmaid 40 years ago – but it’s better than feeling anger when I am with the others who I really care about.

  16. Vikingduk

    And when these criminals, these traitors to humanity implement their method of dealing with monster fires by implementing further hazard reductions, they don’t necessarily mean by fire, the plan will involve mechanical means, i.e., clear felling, grazing in national parks, a changing of the rules regarding environmental concerns, etc.

    A free go for every braindead arsehole to have a go, tell them treehuggers what for, show the world their complete and utter bullying, ignorant ways.

    A recent experience has shown me when a something is meant to happen nothing will stand in the way. I think the same energy being unleashed by nature right now, this slap in the chops, this wake the f-ck up, will intensify, perhaps even showing these petulant, rotten scum suckers how destructive they are.

    The sanctimonious smirker and his disciples are the enemy. The stench of these rotten bastards wafts through every aspect of life, they are intent on killing hope, compassion and love. Begone you f-ckers.

    When it all becomes a little difficult, sometimes a musical interlude helps. If you need a good spirit clean try some Viking music, in particular Heilung and Danheim. Guaranteed to clear the cobwebs, all on u tube, turn volume up to at least 11.

  17. corvusboreus

    THeilung do tend toc rather hard.
    Maria Franz is, in my opinion, amongst the very best reindeer bone percussionists in Europe 😉

  18. Kaye Lee

    Fifty years ago, Joni Mitchell was warning us…..

    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    Till it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

  19. Kaye Lee

    I also love our own Judy Small – You Don’t Speak For Me

  20. John

    I wonder if there were “Woke, inner city, leftist, progressive dinosaurs” who knew what was coming and were forced to watch it unfold while the rest of the dinosaurs carried on indifferent to what was coming.

  21. John

    In her book This Changes Everything Naomi Klein points out that the “conservatives” and deniers are basically correct re the fragile nature of our temporary prosperity – as such they are tragically correct re keeping the current status quo in place.

    We are damned, or countless millions (billions) of living beings, both human and non-human will suffer dreadfully if we continue with business as usual.
    Likewise we are potentially “damned” too by the changes required to “change everything”. Changes that will require “sacrifices” or radical changes as to how we live by literally every human being. It is almost impossible to imagine how this will come about and what it will look like – if of course Earthkind even survives the current crisis.

    With that in mind Naomi Klein describes a persuasive a case as to why everything must change.
    Unfortunately our potentially catastrophic situation did not just occur overnight as it were. It is the inevitable result of our Western presumptions about what we are as human beings and of our relationship to the natural world. Presumptions rooted in our Christian world view as pointed out and described by Lynn White Jr in his famous essay. re the Christian roots of our environmental crisis.

    Put in another way the situation that we have created is the product of powerful deep historical forces which are almost impossible to turn around. An almost unstoppable pattern patterning.

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