As a writer what I find interesting is the corruption of the language and the evidence by the sceptics.
Yesterday I posted a blog that was based on Rolling Stone’s list of the people they believe are doing to the most to undermine the international and US domestic effort on climate change.
Obviously the post was sent to a sceptic list and the comments came pouring in.
The main thrusts of their argument are:
• Climate change, global warming or what the sceptics called “AGW” short for Anthropogenic Global Warming, is a lie and the bigger the lie the more people will fall for it.
• Versions of this argument is that AGW is some kind of new religion being perpetuated by “enviro-zealots” who are unreasonable, anti-intellectual, and stubbornly ignorant.
• That the evidence does not stack up – the Arctic is somehow growing, so is the Antarctic and the planet is actually cooling.
• If there wasn’t enough evidence out there that climate change was flawed, then the new evidence contained in the hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia shows that to be the case.
• CO2 is not a pollutant and is good for plants.
• Steve Milloy (Junkscience.com and Greenhellblog.com), and Lord Monckton should be on the list because they are “freedom fighters.”
All of these arguments are completely and utterly wrong, and are fundamentally not credible. But in the way that the sceptics twist and abuse language, if they are repeated often enough, the lie, as they say, will become the truth.
Let’s take the first two bullet points together
• Global warming is a lie perpetuated by “enviro-zealots”
The charge is that global warming is some kind of huge conspiracy and a huge lie being perpetuated against the masses. It is the complete opposite of what is actually happening. The lie is that climate change is NOT happening. In the way they twist the debate, their lie becomes the truth and black slowly becomes white.
You will believe the lie that man-made climate change is not happening, if you read enough sceptic blogs or books. The sceptics claim all they want is an honest debate but actually the way they twist the debate means it is them who are being dishonest.
Years ago I wrote a book called “Green Backlash” that explored many of these issues – how there was a concerted campaign to target and marginalise the environmental debate through the use of language and other public relations tactics. I detailed the tactics used to try and marginalise those working on issues such as climate change.
In the book I noted how leading sceptics Roger Bate and Julian Morris, then from the IEA had written a book called “Global Warming: Apocalypse or Hot Air”. In the chapter on the science of climate change, over half of the cited references were from known sceptics.
So a sceptic claims that man-made climate change is not happening, a claim repeated by ten others and so on. It becomes a fraudulent Ponzi scheme, where a small group of people are repeatedly used to try and build the lie that climate change is not happening, nor is is man-made. The same consistently happens now. The sceptics use other sceptics to back up their argument.
- The Arctic and Antarctic are cooling
To try and argue that the Arctic and Antarctic are somehow cooling, as is the rest of the world, is just not borne out by the credible science and evidence on the ground.
To take just one example. Although it’s a few years old now, I would still recommend that people look at the conclusions of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.
This was heavyweight science. It drew on the expertise of 300 climate scientists and indigenous experts and had the backing of all the governments that surround the Arctic and 18 Academies of Science. It reached some alarming conclusions.
• In Alaska, western Canada and Eastern Russia average winter temperatures have increased by 4 – 7° Fahrenheit over the last fifty years. Projected to rise 7 – 13° F in next 100 years.
• Arctic sea ice during the summer is predicted to decline by at least fifty per cent by the end of this century. Some models say a total disappearance.
• Warming over Greenland is projected to lead to substantial melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet that contains enough melt water to raise sea level by about 7 meters (about 23 feet).
• If the Arctic Ocean becomes ice-free in summer, polar bears and some seal species could become extinct.
• Arctic climate change presents serious challenges to the health and food security of some Indigenous Peoples, challenging their very survival.
Robert Corell, chairman of the scientists’ study panel and a senior fellow with the American Meteorological Society said at the time
“The impacts of global warming are affecting people now in the Arctic. The Arctic is experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on earth. The impacts of climate change on the region and the globe are projected to increase substantially in the years to come.”
Since that report was released things have only gotten worse.
The UK Met Office, not known for being a hot-bed of radical green activism, argues that “in recent decades the Arctic has been heating twice as fast as the rest of the world, largely because Arctic ice, which reflects sunlight and keeps the surface cool, has decreased. In particular, summer Arctic sea-ice has decreased by about 10% per decade since 1979. Land-ice and snow-cover have also decreased — a bigger effect in the short-term because land heats up faster than the sea.”
The UK Met Office has also confirmed that 2009 is expected to be the fifth-warmest year in the instrumental record that dates back to 1850.
• The CRU email scandal shows that actually it is the scientists who have been fraudulent.
As I have pointed out on this blog before, sceptics have tried to claim that the email scandal was the final nail in the coffin of credibility of man-made global warming. Although everyone admits the episode has been damaging, I would argue that the most damaging was the way the emails were cherry-picked to try and make a case that can’t actually be made. So the sceptics want you to believe the emails say something they don’t actually say.
As Rajendra Pachauri, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues:
“The allegations made on the basis of the stolen emails have proved incorrect. The papers which were criticised in the emails were actually discussed in detail in chapter six of the Working Group I report of the AR4. Furthermore, articles from the journal Climate Research, which was also decried in the emails, have been cited 47 times in the Working Group I report.”
He continues: “It is also a well-established fact that the IPCC relies on datasets – not from any single source – but from a number of institutions in different parts of the world. Significantly, the datasets from East Anglia were totally consistent with those from other institutions, on the basis of which far-reaching and meaningful conclusions were reached in the AR”
Moreover, hundreds of credible British scientists responded to the email leak with the following statement:
We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities. The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity. That research has been subject to peer review and publication, providing traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method.
The science of climate change draws on fundamental research from an increasing number of disciplines, many of which are represented here. As professional scientists, from students to senior professors, we uphold the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which concludes that ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal’ and that ‘Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations’.
• CO2 is not a pollutant
Years ago I went to an OPEC conference on climate change in Vienna and a scientist sat there and said that if you pumped more CO2 in a greenhouse you got bigger and fatter tomatoes. So CO2 is beneficial, he said.
Well, if you eat one apple a day a doctor would say it is good for you, but 20,000 and you would get sick. The same with CO2. In a controlled greenhouse environment, it may be beneficial, but millions of tonnes belching out into the atmosphere has been scientifically shown to fundamentally detrimental by thousands of scientists with many years of peer-reviwed research.
- Only trust a scientist
The sceptics argue that it is only scientists who should be able to comment on the science, but most of the sceptics are not scientists and only a tiny handful are climate scientists. Indeed many of the most prominent sceptics are linked to a network of right-wing think tanks that have been funded by the oil industry and conservative trusts from the US.
Steve Milloy and Lord Monckton are certainly not scientists, and how anyone who has worked as a hack for the tobacco industry can be called a freedom- fighter is just beyond the pale.
But maybe in the sceptic world there is no link between smoking and health either.
But then we also know that the camapign to deny climate change has been very similar to the one to deny the link between smoking and health, with many of the same people involved.
If you don’t believe me get a copy of “Toxic Sludge is Good for You” or “Trust Us We’re Experts” by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton or more recently, the excellent “Climate Cover-Up” by James Hoggan.
We welcome comments to any posts, but those that use offensive or intolerant language probably won’t get posted.