To help clarify what’s at stake, I offer a list of questions that are (or should be) at the center of the debate over anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming ..
1. Is the planet getting warmer?
2. If it’s getting warmer, is that warming caused by humans? ..
3. If it’s getting warmer, by what magnitude? ..
4. What are the costs of global warming? ..
5. What are the benefits of global warming? ..
6. Do the benefits outweigh the costs or do the costs outweigh the benefits? ..
7. If the costs outweigh the benefits, what sorts of policies are appropriate? ..
8. What are the costs of the policies designed to reduce the costs of global warming? ..
First, it is perfectly possible to accept the science of global warming but reject the policies most often put forward to combat it. One can think humans are causing the planet to warm but logically and humanely conclude that we should do nothing about it.
Second, people who take that position and back it up with good arguments should not be called “deniers.” They are not denying the science; they are questioning its implications. In fact, those who think they can go directly from science to policy are, as it turns out, engaged in denial – denial of the relevance of social science.