Which genius came up with the term "warmist" to describe those who recognize that anthropogenic climate change is a legitimate problem?
The website visualthesarus.com defines the term this way:
Among those skeptical that human practices are responsible for global warming, the term warmist has caught on to describe those on the other side of the ideological divide. But Paul McFedries of Wordspy points out that it was originally a neutral label... [A]s arguments over global warming became more polarized, warmist turned into a pejorative, especially popular among conservative pundits during the "Climategate" controversy.
After recognizing that the conservative arguments against the scientific verdict on climate change were nonsensical, I came to regard the term "warmist" as an offensive insult concocted by libertarian ideologues, right-wing bloggers and those on the lower end of the intellectual bell curve who truly believe that Al Gore, Carol Browner, George Soros and Van Jones went into a bar in Greenwich Village years ago and made up global warming to advance a stealth Communist agenda. Now, after several months of hearing the insult from commentators I once admired, I've come to realize that, from a certain perspective, the term is wholly appropriate.
Think about it. When a right-wing ranter uses the term "warmist," he or she intends to conjure up the idea of some demented nerd who wishes to exert control over other people's lives by forcing everyone to buy a Nissan Leaf and live in a smaller home. That this image is false never seems to dawn upon the conservatives and libertarians who use this term.
In the real world, "warmists" are merely people of every background who recognize that human beings have an obligation to leave the world in better shape than when they came into it. They have enough common sense to understand something that even self-professed "global warming agnostic" Charles Krauthammer has conceded:
...the endless pumping of CO2 into the atmosphere cannot be a good thing.
The fascinating thing about the right-wingers who hurl the term "warmist" is that they have no idea who they're insulting. They don't understand that they're insulting most of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates. They don't understand that they're insulting possible future GOP presidential candidates like Chris Christie. They don't understand that they're insulting President Reagan's former Secretary of State George Schultz. They don't understand that they're insulting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. They don't understand that they're insulting Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. In short, they don't understand much.
In reality, the "warmist" is merely one who recognizes that climate change is real, that it is primarily driven by the burning of fossil fuels, and that to avoid the worst of what credible climate scientists (i.e., the ones hardcore conservatives can't stand) have predicted, we should transition away from the use of fossil fuels through some form of carbon pricing. (And no, carbon pricing will not do damage to the U.S. economy. "Warmists" also can't help noting that the folks who warn of economic doom if we price carbon never bother to calculate the costs of doing nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.)
It's fascinating to see American conservatives in particular attacking "warmists" while at the same time accusing President Obama of harboring deep hostility to those who oppose abortion. The irony, of course, is that in terms of their concern and compassion for those not yet born, their advocacy on behalf of those in this country and throughout the world who will be harmed the most by climate change, and in terms of their strong belief in the morality of being good stewards of the Earth and its inhabitants, "warmists" are the real pro-lifers in the United States.
To be a "warmist" is, in short, to be a concerned citizen. An advocate of responsible capitalism. An idealist in the best sense of the word -- since one cannot be a true idealist without convictions and a commitment to facts.
To be a "warmist" is also to reject blind ideology -- which is why the conservatives and libertarians who insult "warmists" are engaging in explicit projection. In truth, these conservatives and libertarians are the ones who have sworn allegiance to ideology over facts, who have chosen irrationality over reason. They are the ones who cannot understand that there is no dignity in dogma.
What was once an ignorant insult is now a point of pride. The term doesn't bother me in the least anymore. Now, to the ideologues, I say:
Damn right, I'm a "warmist." Got a problem with that?
Follow D. R. Tucker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drtucker