You don’t like the names they call me and neither do I

But what would you have me do?

You are my family; we’re precious to each other. I strive to preserve your good opinion of me. But some of you have newly discovered my dirty secret: climate change opponents consider me loathsome and call me by odious names.

Some of you express distaste for this and I admit I don’t like it much myself. So you’ve spoken up, you’ve explained that the infamy visited upon me taints you too, since we share a surname. You feel we’re all humiliated and you’re upset.

I understand. As a boy I would boast to anyone that my grandfather was the Chief Traffic Officer for the whole of Auckland. Not that I knew what a traffic officer did, but pride welled up in me and made me glad to be in this family and glad to be alive. This climate criticism is the opposite. It brings disgrace. When you discover that I’m called a ‘denier,’ a ‘crank,’ a ‘liar,’ ‘anti-science’ and worse the shame cuts deeply.

I know. I felt exactly the same. When the poisonous name-calling began some seven years ago I would feel physically sick. I wondered why the hell I was mixed up with this useless fight against global warming ignorance. But I rose above it and now I can help you do the same, starting with this apologia.

Perhaps you can come to terms with my controversial public reputation without losing either your natural poise or that warm empathy we all love. I’m speaking of you all.

For what would you have me do? When a climate change claim doesn’t make sense, how can I ignore it? I point out the discrepancy and I ask what it means. This is natural. I am courteous and objective, although I use vigorous language when the opponent is especially vicious or obtuse, but I’m frequently treated with terrific discourtesy. You are surely unaccustomed to such instantaneous contempt in your usual circles and for that I’m grateful.

Please don’t consider it my fault when people are rude to me because it’s not caused by my questions—it’s far more likely their bad behaviour is sparked by their inability to provide answers.

Please feel free to view the name-calling as empty—shrill words without substance, speech without meaning. The vile ad hominem attack is without doubt the final hissing refuge of the defeated.

I cannot give in. I will never surrender. You can retain your respect for me precisely because I continue to present the truth about global warming.

Thank you for speaking up—that’s what we do.

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