NPR’s Rachel Martin had a fascinating interview on Tuesday with Katharine Hayhoe, a renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian, in which they discussed the toxic nature of the world “climate denier”—a word that environmental reporters, including me, use all the time to describe people who don’t accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous. Hayhoe argued that calling people deniers is “a good way to end the conversation,” and that it’s actually more accurate to use the word “climate dismissive.”

Hayhoe’s terminology comes from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which last year published a report on how Americans view the threat of global warming. It concluded that America was divided into six categories: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive, the latter being people “who do not believe global warming is real and are likely to believe in various conspiracy theories about the issue.”

I’ve struggled with whether to use word “denier,” especially because of the common accusation that it’s meant to invoke Holocaust deniers. That’s not accurate, as Peter Dykstra explained at Scientific American: The word refers to a type of psychological defense mechanism first conceived by Sigmund and Anna Freud, where “an unpleasant reality is ignored, and a realistic interpretation of potentially threatening events is replaced by a benign but inaccurate one.” That’s why I think of “denier” is the most accurate term for people who ignore, misrepresent, or generally discredit the field of climate science—whether it’s because they don’t like the proposed solutions, or because they just can’t accept reality.

But another compelling reason to use “denier” is that the alternative terminology is inadequate. I won’t use the word “skeptic” because it distorts the meaning of skepticism within science. Climate scientists are skeptical by profession, and yet, a vast majority of them concluded that global warming is