By David L. Brown
I have been silent in recent weeks on the subject of climate change. My reason: I am gobsmacked by the success of the anti-global warming activities that have taken place. Science and reason are in full retreat in the face of the most astounding set of charges, accusations, and declarations I have ever seen.
What can you say when faced with the unimaginable? Think of it as like standing in the middle of a Roman village named Pompeii in 79 A.D., gaping at the sight of Mount Vesuvius blowing itself to pieces. “Oh my goodness!” just would not quite suffice, and more expressive reactions would only be pointless profanity. You would be facing the unimaginable. You would be staring at the end of the world as you know it.
What has happened on the issues of global warming and climate change in the past few months is truly bizarre and frankly unexpected. First thousands of e-mails were hacked and several statements cherry picked out of context, twisted, and made to look like scientists were in disagreement and fighting among themselves on questions pertaining to global warming.
Well, duh, that’s what scientists do! It’s their job to pick at the edges, to squabble among themselves, to try to knock down ideas, to, well, disagree. If they did not do these things, there would be no science, no progress, no real knowledge, just superstition and the recognition of the obvious.
The most amazing thing about that phase of the operation was that among all those thousands of e-mails over a dozen years that the deniers couldn’t find anything any more damning than the extremely thin gruel they did.
Do not scientists have a right to be ironic, as in making a comment during a blizzard that questions global warming? Did that scientist in Colorado who did so believe there is no global warming because it was cold in Colorado in the winter? No, certainly not, and yet that ironic, human, personal statement was seized upon with an Aha! that could be heard all the way to Antarctica, where just today a chunk of ice described as the size of a small country fell into the ocean.
Fact check: An ironic personal comment is not scientific data. It is nothing, in fact. And there is a big part of the problem with this attack: Most of the “flaws” that have been found are on the nature of minor typographic errors, statements of opinion, guesses about the future, and other things that are not scientific data at all.
Such it was with the supposedly egregious “error” concerning the rate of melting of “the Himalayan glaciers.” This appeared on page four hundred and some of the second volume of the latest IPCC report, a work comprising nearly 3000 pages. It was one sentence, and it contained a typo apparently. It was not presented as data, not used as the basis for even a general observation much less the entire bulwark of global warming evidence. It was merely part of a huge compendium of evidence provided by several thousand scientists and cooperatively vetted by representatives of more than a hundred nations of the world. It was nothing.
There were others, a scant few, most of which have been refuted. They were nothing. And yet on the basis of these few “errors,” the entire framework of global warming science is being dismissed.
An important aspect of this is the sad lack of understanding of science on the part of the general public, including many in the press and politics. If you don’t know how science works, and what the words scientists use mean, how can you draw conclusions and cast condemnation on an entire field of science?
And that is what is being done. It is not only that this individual in England, or that one in India, or another one in America may have made a mistake (or more likely, been misquoted or charged with ridiculous allegations). No, scenting blood in the water the anti-global warming forces have blown it up into a criminal conspiracy by several thousand scientists and their political enablers.
Here is what you can conclude if you follow the arguments being blasted around all over the press, conservative Blogworld, and in the political centers of the world: It was all a hoax. It was a scam to make Al Gore wealthy. It was a plot to keep government grants flowing. It was a scheme to destroy the economies of the world for … well, who knows what reason? It was an evil cabal of Hippies and tree-huggers to bring down society. It was aimed at enriching the makers of solar panels and windmills. It was the work of Satan.
OK, let’s take a deep breath now and step back. Why, really, would such an enormous conspiracy be launched? How could it have been kept secret all these years with thousands of participants, all working in the open? What possible explanation could there be for such bizarre claims? Well, there probably is no real way to understand it, any more than that poor Roman in Pompeii could understand the principles of volcanism.
But there is one basis upon which we can begin to understand it. For a long time there has been an on-going effort to spread denial of global warming. These efforts have been supported by Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Coal, and others with a vested interest in the status quo. I have written about this numerous times, such as here, here, here, here, here, and most recently here. It is a propaganda campaign using the tried-and-true techniques of misinformation and playing on ignorance.
Meanwhile, the Earth continues to warm and the misdirection continues. January, 2010 was the warmest on record in the United States. That fact, thanks to the laws of physics. resulted in record snowfall. (Warmer air can hold more moisture, ergo: more snow. This principal is reflected in the saying “it’s too cold to snow.”) And yet, the heavy snowfall was immediately seized upon by countless numbers of individuals who are either absolutely ignorant or deliberately distorting the truth for their own purposes as proof that the world is growing colder.
Global warming does not mean that it will never be cold. It does not mean that it will never snow. In fact, it will result in climate change, which can be all sorts of effects including more cold in some places, less cold in others, more rain, less rain, and so forth. Emphasis is on the word “change.”
I have written before about the “three principles of cover and deception,” as explained to me by a government spook I once met. They are: 1) Illusion; 2) Misdirection; and 3) Ridicule. All these are at play in climate change denial, and as is so often the case, it is working. Many people have been hoodwinked into thinking that no warming is taking place, and that has probably put paid to any significant steps being taken to mitigate the climate change that is going on around us. It’s not just ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia that are riding on the anti-AGW bandwagon now; it’s also China, India, and an entire flock of other nations whose leaders don’t want to bear the expense and pain of doing anything.
It’s not politically or economically expedient to slow down the runaway world economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So our world’s “leaders” (and many here in the U.S.) take the easier path and apply those old methods to discredit the “problem,” by creating the illusion that global warming does not exist; providing misdirection such as by equating a blizzard to global cooling; and by ridiculing those who are seriously concerned for the future of our planet, people such as NASA’s James Hansen and Al Gore.
And so the volcano continues to erupt. The unthinkable continues to become reality. And so it is that our descendants, if any, will look upon us with justifiable wrath as the generation that destroyed the future of our race and lost the Earth for all time to come.