A couple of weeks ago I published an essay (“The Problem with Climate Catastrophizing,” Foreign Affairs) that scrutinized the claims of climate catastrophists—the journalists, activists, politicians, and even scientists who insist that climate change poses an “existential threat” to human civilization and is our greatest challenge. I embraced climate science, called the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “the gold-standard summary,” and assumed that temperatures will rise by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius this century. But I argued that none of this science or accompanying economic analyses added up to the catastrophe promised; that perhaps cognitive distortions were leading catastrophists to irrational conclusions.
I was genuinely curious how catastrophists would respond. Surely there would be counterarguments I had not considered, perhaps even errors in my own analysis or contrary data and analysis with which I was unfamiliar. Instead, the one substantive response has come from Eric Holthaus, host of the “Our Warm Regards” podcast on climate change.
Holthaus called the essay “a master class in modern climate denial” and then proceeded to attempt a “fact-check.” This provided a useful indicator of the types of statements that now constitute “climate denial”....