PUBLISHED: 23:20 EST, 22 April 2012 | UPDATED: 23:44 EST, 22 April 2012
A liberal environmental analyst sparked a firestorm after he used an outlandish example that suggested those who deny the existence of man-made global warming should have their houses burnt down.
Steve Zwick used the example of the fire department in a small Tennessee town allowed several houses to burn to the ground because their owners had not paid the mandatory $75 fee for the service.
Equating the actions of global warming denialists to those of the people who did not pay the fire fee because their actions contributed to the problem and therefore, he argued that who did not cause the global warming crisis be saved first.
‘We know who the active denialists are… Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn until the innocent are rescued,’ Mr Zwick wrote in Forbes on Friday.
‘Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.’
He started the article essentially likening denialists and shirkers to addicts in need of hitting the proverbial rock bottom before changing their ways.
The point that he was trying to make was the people who have denied the man-made nature of global warming have been extremely detrimental to the global population at large because they have prevented money and attention from being paid towards the issue.
He pushed the point that scientists believe that the people who will be the most effected by the worsening global weather conditions that prompt drought, floods, and famines will be the poor people of Africa, Asia, and Latin America as opposed to wealthier people in more developed countries who generate the damaging carbon emissions.
Predictably, his suggestion caused an immediate backfire from conservative critics who likened him to eco-terrorists and InfoWars called him ‘a demented idiot’.
The reactions prompted him to write a follow-up piece on Sunday that clarified his ‘intentionally provocative’ position.
‘Instead of a challenging debate on a sticky issue, I found myself accused of telling people to go out and burn down houses,’ he wrote in the second piece.
‘I said no such thing, but after reading my piece with fresh eyes, even I have to admit that the analogy is more of a distraction than a point of departure for debate.’