Show me the science: the weird world of climate change

We live in a world where even straight forward facts are disputed, distorted and used in fantastical ways by those with political agendas. The 24 hour news cycle seems capable of turning sound bites into facts, and then running with stories that don’t actually match reality. This could not be more true than in the arena of climate change, global warming and resource usage.

A few years ago, those media outlets, politicians and business leaders who have an interest in denying climate change had a great gift given to them, and they immediately labelled it “Cimate gate”. Thousands of column inches and minutes were given to the accusation that some academics working on climate issues had falsified data in order to heighten the scare mongering around climate change. It was held up as a massive exhibit that “proved” climate change was not happening. You have most likely heard of this issue.

So, have you heard that it didn’t happen?

The scientists involved have been reviewed again (and again and again), and have now (again) been exonerated. They have been cleared of all charges. Or, to put it simply: “Climategate” did not happen. You can read about this important issue here and here.

So, is global warming happening? Well, of course, the skeptics would say, “No, it isn’t”. They claim that science and data are on their side, because global warming has now stopped. This is just not true, and is such a distortion of climate data that it can only have been done wilfully. Read the best examination of this issue here. Global warming has slowed down in the past few years, because global warming happens in a cycle (of energy building and lack of release) over about a decade. Thus, all the best models of global warming (or cooling, by the way) would show that temperature changes would not happen in a linear line over time. You need to look at longer term trends (not that much longer – just 15-30 years). When you do, the upward trend is clear. And alarming.


And, by the way, even in this era of slight cooling (which should last another few years, as did similar parts of the cycle in previous decades), nine of the ten hottest years in recorded history have happened in … the last 12 years (see that information here).

Even reputable news channels, like the Wall Street Journal, churn out complete distortions of the facts on a regular basis, while steadfastly refusing to be objective. And other sensationalist channels, like Fox or the Daily Mail, go even further. Read some of what they’ve written, and responses, at this revealing blog post.

Part of the problem is that there are pressure groups deliberately set up to combat climate science and the data emerging from this field of study. One of them, The Heartland Institute, was recently exposed when a lot of their internal memos were leaked. These showed their policies – which indicate that “discrediting established climate science remains a core mission of the organisation”. You can read the Guardian’s report on this issue here. The concern is their funders and their methods. It doesn’t look good for them in both cases.

It would be great to have a good debate about reality, and our response to what we know, and to have these conversations on the basis of facts and real data. But entrenched positions and bias so distort reality that it can be hard to separate truth from fantasy. It seems clear to me, though, with each passing day, that the climate scientists and those worried about the impact of climate change and global change are proved more and more correct. That’s not to say that I agree with their proposed solutions – that would be a conversation worth having. But on the basis of fact!

I wonder how much of the issues I’ve raised here (climategate being wrong, The Heartland Institute’s policies, etc), you’ve heard about in the mainstream media? Not much? I didn’t think so. Hopefully that makes you think just a bit more before you dismiss man-made climate change.

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