Four things you need to know about climate change
1. Few take the time to explore the actual science
There are several reasons why few people, including journalists, take the time to understand climate science.
Firstly, the volume of scientific papers is overwhelming. Over 150,000 papers are published every year that relate to the Earth’s climate and most are tedious, require math literacy and don’t come to clear conclusions.
Secondly, there is a never-ending stream of live data from satellites and ground weather stations, and the data itself is not free of controversy. Much of it needs to be calibrated or adjusted to make it useful. Biases can be introduced and it can be cherry-picked to prove a point and so it can be very confusing.
Thirdly, the most interesting scientific papers, far from making the whole matter easier to understand, do the opposite. They reveal more questions that need to be answered. It is turning out that the Earth’s climate is more complicated than anyone conceived.
The stories you read daily in the media about extreme weather and record breaking temperatures have little to do with actual scientific data. You can see this for yourself by exploring the weather readings that are available online.
One would expect the summer high temperatures in Toronto to be trending upwards because of the urban heat island effect. The reality is that recent temperatures are not close to the high recorded in 1936.
What is most noteworthy is how the temperatures jump around from day-to-day, month-to-month and year-to-year, apparently randomly just as they always have. If you can discern any trends they will be minuscule compared to the hour-to-hour variability.
2. “Climate change” is a rallying cry for other agendas
Not many people are interested in studying the Earth’s weather and climate as the details are extremely confusing. However, there is a growing army committed to what “climate change” represents.
For many it represents concern about the environment and a commitment to lessen humanity’s adverse impacts on the planet.
For others it represents a way to reconfigure society so it is cleaner and fairer. The “Green New Deal,” as articulated by The Sierra Club, is a “bold transformation of the economy to tackle the twin crises of inequality and climate change to transition from an economy built on exploitation and fossil fuels to one driven by dignified work and clean energy.”
Supporters of an economic transformation have been using climate alarmism to galvanize action. “We have just 11 years to take the actions necessary to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change,” states the Canadian organization Pact for a Green New Deal.
The message about economic transformation resonates with younger citizens who cannot find well-paying jobs, afford homes and fear being left behind economically.
Alarm about climate change is being used by many green interests to further their diverse causes and as a justification for governments to raise taxes.
3. How did concern about the environment become climate alarmism?
It was evident that mobilizing public opinion about environmental concerns was a struggle. However by focusing on “climate change” it was possible to turn what would otherwise be viewed as local issues into a global concern. The politicians created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 with a mandate to understand “the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change.”
At this point “climate science” became a recognized discipline. Until then the study of climate had been covered by experts from various disciplines: meteorologists forecast weather; climatologists mapped out different climatic regions, plus there were atmospheric scientists, oceanographers, geographers, environmental scientists and many others.
“Climate science” was founded on the presumed fact that fossil fuels are having an important adverse effect. The principle way to prove the point was by using computer models that showed increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide linked to global temperatures.
Then in 2006 Al Gore produced An Inconvenient Truth. A whole generation has seen the movie that showed the hockey stick graph of carbon dioxide and presented global warming as settled science. The matter was positioned as a battle between those who cared about the planet versus well-funded energy companies who were accused of conducting disinformation campaigns similar to those employed by the tobacco industry that threw doubt on the connection between smoking and cancer.
The fear that fossil fuel companies were “repositioning global warming as theory rather than fact” was promoted in The Heat is On, a book published in 1997 by Ross Gelbspan. The accusations have never stood up to scrutiny but the book put the media and academics on high alert to guard against the “false balance” of mentioning views that ran counter to the orthodoxy.
What was originally a well-meaning theory became established dogma. To this day if you question this orthodoxy you are labelled a “denier” and a shill for big oil.
The climate has not been warming as forecast and so “global warming” has evolved to “climate change.”
And that is where the story has got stuck. Science teachers have been telling children the same account ever since.
The downsides of this orthodoxy are becoming awfully apparent.
4. Climate alarmism becomes unstoppable
The fossil fuel companies have been accused of using their huge resources to brainwash the public and politicians.
In reality they have gone along with the climate change orthodoxy and they do their best to present themselves as “green.” The lobbying budget of five largest publicly traded oil companies amounts to around $200 million each year. This might sound a lot until it is compared to the ever-growing resources supporting the climate change orthodoxy.
The climate change orthodoxy is promoted by an army of government agencies, environmental organizations, educational institutions, media groups and diverse green interests. There are thousands of these organizations and their annual budgets run into the trillions of dollars.
The IPCC is the cheerleader for the climate movement. They hold an annual conference where the complexities of climate science are distilled into simple headlines and talking points that are then amplified by the media.
The movement is supported by a generation of young activists who believe the narrative and get angry with anyone who points out that the science will never be settled and that green policies are driving away investment, closing industries, and taking money out of peoples’ pockets.
Current policies that do little to protect the environment and certainly cannot achieve the impossible, which is to stop the climate from changing, are never scrutinized.
Politicians on both the left and the right have become fearful of being labelled as “climate deniers” and unable to advance energy and environmental policies that will benefit their constituents.
The environmental movement started out championing important causes. It has been nurtured by political forces. But it has become fearsome and hostile to constructive debate and realistic energy policies.