Jason Mathias

Climate change fallacy

What fallacy would it be to suggest that since climate changed before the burning of fossil fuels means fossil fuels cant be causing climate change now?

asked on Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021 09:36:51 PM by Jason Mathias

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Jordan Pine writes:

Not sure it’s a non-sequitur given the assumed argument that precedes the fallacy, which is typically that burning fossil fuels caused global warming.

I think causal reduction is the better choice. Interestingly, I believe the post hoc and cum hoc  fallacies fall under that general umbrella (Dr. Bo can confirm), which is relevant to this debate in the following ways...


“If you look at this graph (e.g. the infamous ‘hockey stick’), you can clearly see that global temperature increases after CO2 increases.”


“If you look at this graph (e.g. the infamous ‘hockey stick’), you can clearly see that global temperature increases as CO2 increases.”

For me, this raises the question of whether the counter-argument is some inverse of this fallacy?


”If you look at THIS graph, you can clearly see that global temperature increases  before CO2 increases.”


”If you look at THIS graph, you can clearly see global temperature increases when there is NO increase in CO2.”

Non Hoc Ergo Non Propter Hoc? :-)


posted on Thursday, Feb 18, 2021 12:34:02 PM

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Besides the general non sequitur ...

The failure in reasoning here stems from causal reductionism , or assuming climate change has a single cause (or multiple causes limited to only the single category of "naturalistic") and not entertaining the fact that causes can also be man-made. In essence, it is the failure to accept the possibility of other causes.

answered on Thursday, Feb 18, 2021 08:35:06 AM by Bo Bennett, PhD

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Yep, non sequitur.

Logical form (I should have done this before):

P1) Climate changed before the burning of fossil fuels

P2) We are burning fossil fuels now

C) Climate change cannot be because of fossil fuel burning

Conclusion does not follow.

However, I think causal reductionism is the better fit (see Dr Bo's comment) as it is more specific.

answered on Thursday, Feb 18, 2021 06:01:01 AM by Rationalissimo

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