The Tragedy of Climate Change Denial

By David L. Brown

Well, we all know that it has been really cold in many places this winter, and that that is proof positive that global warming is a hoax. Oh, didn’t you know that? It’s true, and all you need to do to convince yourself of that is to listen to raving ignorant pols and pundits who heed the malicious maunderings of climate change deniers.

Seriously, there is something strange about people who claim that because it’s cold in the winter that the planet is not warming. Did anyone ever predict that warm winters would result? Only the most ignorant and mentally challenged idiot would make such a claim … or so it would seem. In fact, we hear that kind of clueless statement rather frequently. Does that mean there are a lot of ignorant folks around, many of them in places of authority? Well, perhaps. It’s not enough to merely observe that they are ill-informed, because they have bought into a thesis that is  supported not by science, but by disinformation and lies.

The professional deniers, many of them driven by monetary support from special interests, have been spinning and twisting the facts of climate change like a cat’s cradle. They make up facts, distort others, make ridiculous claims, take minor point out of context and blow them up as big as Mount Everest and, well, they use every trick in the propaganda handbook. And tthey get away with it because a large percentage of human beings were never taught the art of analytic reasoning, the ability to sort out the truth from the deluge of lies and misinformation. Those who have been labeled as sheep and whose understanding of logic is minuscule or nonexistent.

There’s another factor at work here, I suspect, and that is the desire not to know that the world may be in trouble due to human activities. After all, what a far more comfortable thing it is to believe that things are just hunky and also dory and that everything will always be just wonderful? It’s human nature to suppress thoughts about bad things. An example that comes to mind is the way Americans almost unanimously denied the coming of World War Two, right up until December 7, 1941. That day something happened, and the world changed.

global-warming-250x326Here we see a hint of the principle of tipping points, in that instance the Pearl Harbor attack. The denial of climate change is likely to follow a similar pattern. Until there are obvious signs of the effect of global warming, little is likely to be done about it. Nevermind that there already are significant signs of exactly those effects, such as disappearing Arctic ice, warming oceans, melting tundra. Those actual pieces of evidence are ignored and countered with anecdotes about cold winter days, snow storms, and conspiracy theories alleging that thousands of scientists are engaged in an enormous hoax led by the evil Al Gore.

What is the reality? Well, here’s one: the year 2010, despite whatever you may have heard, was probably the warmest on record. Here’s another factoid: the ten warmest years since records began being kept occurred since 1998. Those are facts, as confirmed by three separate scientific organizations. Here’s the report as seen on the BBC website (yes, you have to go beyond the borders of America to get much news about such things as “facts.”)

2010 was the warmest year since global temperature records began in 1850 – although margins of uncertainty make it a statistical tie with 1998 and 2005.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) concludes 2010 was 0.53C warmer than the average for the period 1961-90 – a period commonly used as a baseline.

The 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1998, it notes.

The WMO analysis combines data from three leading research agencies, and is regarded as the most authoritative.

The three records are maintained by the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), and jointly in the UK by the Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

They use broadly the same data from weather stations, ocean buoys and satellites across the world; but each analyses that data in different ways, leading to slight differences in their conclusions.

But those are only scientific facts, and thus much less persuasive then anecdotes about cold days in winter (it’s winter, for crying out loud, what do they expect?) and unusual snowfalls. People see what they want to see, and if on some future day they see the results of catastrophic climate tipping points it will probably be far too late to do anything about it. That’s the tragedy of denial.

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