International Journal of Inactivism (now supplanted by Decoding SwiftHack)


Book under my radar, labels on your cheddar

Filed under: climate regulation,science — stepanovich @ 14:45

cite as: F. Bi. 2008. Book under my radar, labels on your cheddar. Intl. J. Inact., 1:60–64

The radar

I’ve been saying for some time that perhaps some climate scientists should get together and write a monograph about “what’s this ‘climatology’ thing and how does it work?”, as a way to inform the public on what’s involved in the field. Via Rabett Run, I found out today that climatologist Ray Pierrehumbert had been working on exactly such a book — back in 2006! It’s still in draft, but the very fact that someone is writing up this book is itself cool news. Still, don’t expect to hear about it in the mainstream media. 🙂

The cheddar

And now, allow me to indulge in a bit of navel-gazing. (No, I don’t mean that navel…) In April, I proposed using the word “inactivists”, instead of “denialists”, to describe those who want to stall action on climate change, for whatever reason. The advantages of using this word, I argued, were the following:

  • It also includes those people who ostensibly agree that global warming is happening, but still insist on Doing Nothing. (This’ll avoid all the quibbles that go “I’m not a denialist!” etc.)
  • It’s based on the word “activists”, which the delayers of climate change action like to use as an insult — if “activism” is a bad thing, then “inactivism” must be pretty good. (Also, as mentioned in my very first blog post, the word “inactivism” was used by Jonah Goldberg to describe himself, with pride.)

(Another advantage, which I didn’t mention back then, is that “inactivists” focuses less on the specific ‘arguments’, which are constantly shifting, and more on the arguer’s goal, which is always to Do Nothing.)

Well, it’s two months later, and I find that the word “inactivists” has gained a somewhat decent (though minor) following — and I’m pleasantly surprised to find that RealClimate is starting to use the term!

Still, in the big scheme of things, it seems “inactivists” doesn’t yet have anywhere near as much mindshare as some of the other terms. As a quick test, I did a search on Google with the query string "climate change" "inactivists", as well as the same query string with the word “inactivists” replaced by another word. Here are the hit counts reported by Google for the various words:

I also tried the same searches on Google News, with these results:

So it looks like the global warming issue’s still being framed as a “debate” between “activists” (and scientists) and “skeptics”…

And, a word on Lieberman-Warner

DeSmogBlog blogger Mitchell Anderson opines that the Lieberman-Warner Bill suffered an “ignoble defeat”. I disagree; I think the bill died a noble death. Despite Milloy’s Papercut attempting to subvert USCAP from the inside, the green lobby stood together, pressed on, fought a good fight, and never gave up. In the words of Shakespeare’s Macbeth :

Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s debt;
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm’d
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died. […]

Siward: Had he his hurts before?

Ross: Ay, on the front.

Why then, God’s soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death;
And so, his knell is knoll’d.

Update 2008-07-06: A bit of clarification: the word “inactivists” wasn’t coined by me. Well, I did come up with the word independently, but I found that it had been used before by Goldberg in a different (but related) context.



  1. […] Grandia that has long been involved in issues of climate change spin. It’s no secret that inactivists have been very good at using PR to get their message out. The world of PR is, by its very nature, […]

    Pingback by DeSmog, the BC carbon tax, and biases « Left as an Exercise — 2009/04/17 @ 23:19 | Reply

  2. Frank.

    Speaking of things under the radar, you’re a difficult man to contact, so I apologise for posting this on your blog. Feel free to remove it after reading.

    Anyway, I have a little something that I’d like to discuss with you if possible. You have my details now…


    Comment by Bernard J. — 2010/04/22 @ 15:06 | Reply

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