A physics professor from Brooklyn College, a senior college of the City University of New York, has begun to spur debate for a series of blog posts where he compares denial of man-made climate change to genocide like that of the Holocaust.
Micha Tomkiewicz wrote his first post about the topic on his new blog Climate Change Fork on April 22 -- Earth Day -- stating that denial of global warming is similar to that of early denial of the Holocaust. Early in this post, he raises the question if the two can even be compared -- something others have criticized him for since. As the author of a recently published book on climate change and a Holocaust survivor himself, Tomkiewicz would say yes.
Tomkiewicz goes on to define genocide, cite how deniers of the Holocaust were obviously "dead wrong," and references the International Panel for Climate Change and scientists who say that with man-made global warming "we may be creating our next genocide ourselves."
On May 7, Tomkiewicz followed up this blog post with "proof." In it he shows an image of two aerial photographs of the concentration camp where he spent two years. He explains the image is a superimposition showing the two camps then and now "to try to convince the skeptics that the camp was in the same place."
"The aerial photographs are there to 'prove' that all of this is real," he wrote.
Here's how he links this to climate change denialism:
[...] climate change deniers like to say that using scientific “theories” to explain climate change is not really “proof.” We use scientific theories all the time to explain phenomena that we know exist but can’t readily “see” -- like gravity, for example. We know gravity exists because we can feel its effects; we can also see climate change’s effects, but the deniers continue to insist it isn’t really proof.
Most recently in response to criticism for "dragging" the Holocaust into the climate change debate and "cheapening" it in the process, Tomkiewicz writes in his defense that he is using the concept to make a point:
I make my “climate change denier” claim for one reason. It’s easy today to teach students to condemn the Holocaust, but it’s much more difficult to teach them how to try to prevent future genocides. There are different kinds of genocides and they don’t repeat themselves; they come to us in different ways. I am not suggesting that the Holocaust is just like climate change. But what I am suggesting is that even though it’s hard to see a genocide – any genocide – coming. The future is hard to predict, but we can see this one coming. This genocide is of our own making, and it will effect everyone, not just one group or country.
He goes on to write that in dragging this historical genocide into the debate, he hopes that climate change can be taught in the educational system with a purpose similar to that like the Holocaust. He poses the question: Why do we study the Holocaust? And answers it citing a U.N. resolution: "to prevent future acts of genocide." Tomkiewicz writes that teaching the history of the Holocaust involves study of past events as well as analysis of "future situations that might to genocides – man-on-man and self-inflicted – through destruction of the physical environment."
He ends writing that he has chosen the blogosphere as a medium to help bring awareness for the "prevention of future genocides through analysis of situations that might lead to one."
CUNY's Campus Reform has asked the Brooklyn College public relations office for its thoughts on Tomkiewicz's posts. Campus Reform received a response stating the office needed "to ascertain a few things before giving you a concise answer regarding this matter."
What are your thoughts? Was it appropriate for Tomkiewicz to compare denial of the Holocaust to denial of man-made global climate change? Is it effective at making his point?
[H/T: Oliver Darcy, Campus Reform]