ECOBUDDHISM QUARTERLY REVIEW


Climate of Denial

Look Away Now

This figure shows the predicted distribution of temperature  change due to global warming from the Hadley Centre's HadCM3  Climate Model.   These changes are based on business as usual projections of  carbon gas  emissions during the next century, and essentially assume normal levels of economic growth and no significant steps being taken to combat greenhouse gas emissions.  The plotted colors show predicted surface temperature changes for 2070-2100 relative to the model's baseline temperatures (1960-1990).  The average change  shown here  is 3.0°C - actually this falls in the lower half of the IPCC's  predicted  climate warming up to  2100.  An average planetary temperature rise of  3.0°C  could  make  runaway global warming inevitable .  Courtesy:  R. Rodhe, www.globalwarmingart.com

 

 

The Great Deception

Thousands of climatologists around the world have researched global warming for three decades.As bona fide scientists know, there is no scientific ‘debate’ about the existence or causes of global warming. There is an intensive ongoing investigation of how dangerous, rapid and consequential its impacts will be.

The fourth collective report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC (2007) represented the international consensus of scientists and government representatives—some of the latter being advocates for various national fossil fuel industries.This authoritative report was conservative but unambiguous: global warming is caused by human activity. Although the IPCC was deservedly awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, we should remember, as Tim Flannery has stated:

The pronouncements of the IPCC do not represent mainstream science, nor even good science, but lowest common denominator science—and of course even that is delivered at glacial speed…If the IPCC says something, you had better believe it—and then allow for the likelihood that things are far worse than it says they are. [1]

Facts on the ground abundantly confirm the deep conservatism of the IPCC’s position.The summer sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean is melting decades ahead of their consensus projections. Our planetary climate continues to be degraded by increasing carbon emissions, moving us towards a catastrophic climate tipping point—non-reversible melting of the vast Greenland Ice Sheet. 

Global human society now finds itself in a state of pervasive public confusion and demoralization. This is the result of a long and successful campaign of distortion and disinformation, lavishly funded by the fossil fuel industry (for example, over $420 million in the first six months of the U.S. election year of 2008). Unsurprisingly, although politicians and industrialists profess to accept the cause is human activity, they continue to ignore the many opportunities for effective corrective action.

 

Scepticaemia

In 1989, a so-called ‘Global Climate Coalition’ was formed by some fifty fossil fuel and allied corporations. Its agenda: to cast as much ‘scepticism’ as money could buy on the existence of global warming. Corporations spent hundreds of millions of dollars on PR, advertising and political donations. When the scientific evidence for warming and its cause reached a critical mass, a number of corporations led by BP and Dupont withdrew, leaving Exxon Mobil, General Motors and Chevron as unrepentant residual sponsors in 2000. Enormous intellectual and psychological damage had been perpetrated by the Global Climate Coalition over a decade. A crucial period of time in the history of humanity and the biosphere was stolen from proponents of science, sanity and ethical government.

As the Global Climate Coalition dissolved back into its corporate masters, new organizations sprouted to sustain its mission of public confusion.Most are backed by right-wing think tanks or directly by the oil and coal industries. Some ‘sceptic’ organizations resort to blatant fraud to bewilder and demoralize the public. The ‘Leipzig Declaration’ of global warming scepticism, for example, purported to be signed by dozens of senior academic scientists. Upon investigation, most ‘signatories’ were non-scientists while many others were names of scientists who had neither seen nor signed it. The tactics of the ‘sceptics’ are hardly original. Big tobacco corporations had already demonstrated how exceptional profitability could be maintained by knowingly misleading the public—for two decades after smoking had been shown to cause epidemic lung cancer.

In the case of global warming, the price is not being paid by one class of citizens who smoke tobacco, but by all life on Earth, present and future. Al Gore [2] summarized the statistics of climate change ‘scepticism’ for the decade 1995 to 2005. During this period, 928 genuine scientific research papers on global warming were published in international journals, and in all cases there was no doubt as to the cause of global warming.Among the 636 articles that appeared in the mainstream popular press, over 50% cast doubt on the cause of warming. This tragic disconnect between science and society has been engineered by well-organized and well-funded mass deception.

Because science is by no means simple for the general public to fully understand, the opportunity presents itself for spurious ‘experts’ to bamboozle and deceive. Their pseudo-scientific arguments are not subjected to the rigorous peer-review process required for publication in authentic scientific journals. Their journalistic efforts are free to be as deceptive, malevolent and effective as a political smear campaign. And they may be as toxic for the future of our species as generalized septicaemia.

 

Debunking toxic pseudo-science

Some ‘sceptics’ assert that a natural phase of increasing solar radiation could be warming the Earth, just as a natural decrease of solar radiation cooled it in the ‘Little Ice Age’ of the 17th century. However, since the industrial revolution the Sun has actually been cooling while the Earth’s climate has been warming.

Solar changes cannot explain the dramatic rise in temperature over the past few decades.[3]

Some ‘sceptics’ assert that particulate air pollution is welcome, since it reflects sunlight, providing a cooling effect.This is partly true, but temporary. This diversionary argument distracts people from the overwhelming evidence for the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide emissions.On a similar note, other ‘sceptics’ assert that a decrease of atmospheric particulates from volcanoes is responsible for global warming. However, the world’s volcanoes have been very active since the 1950s, when warming took off dramatically—and if anything should have slightly checked temperature rises.

Irregularities in the planet’s orbit have influenced previous ice ages. Some ‘sceptics’ therefore claim that warming results from a regular force of nature that manifests when the Earth ‘wobbles’ on its axis.However, changes brought about in this way take over 100,000 years. In no way can they explain the extremely rapid warming effects since 1950 or 1970. As for the ‘sceptical’ attribution of climate change to the warming effects of El Nino, those last only a few years, and operate on selected geographical areas.The recent warming is global and cumulative, dramatically soover the last six decades.

 

Reality Check

Our most powerful supercomputers (eg. at the U.K. Hadley Centre) calculate millions of information signals per second—comparing and dynamically integrating solar radiation, moisture, air, heat, interactions with ocean and land, volcanoes and greenhouse gases.Among every combination of factors examined, the only one that parallels the drastic global warming of the past few decades is the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases—and above all the carbon dioxide generated by human activity. The great majority of this is fossil carbon dioxide. It was drawn down by ancient photosynthesis from the atmosphere of the Carboniferous Era, and released by the fossil fuel economy over the last century.

Human activity is to blame for the rise in temperature over recent decades, and will be responsible for more changes in the future…If anybody tells you differently they either have a vested interest in ignoring the scientific arguments or they are fools.[3]

 

REFERENCES

[1] Tim Flannery, The Weather Makers

[2] Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth

[3] Gabrielle Walker & Sir David King, The Hot Topic

 

home