Dr. Jo-Anne Bell,
B.Sc. Honours, M. Sc., Ph.D.
I have been reading the various articles and letters in the North Grenville Times that reference “global warming” or “climate change” for the last few years while grinding my teeth and biting my tongue. The latest series of responses in backlash to Jim Bertram’s article “Ceasing to Think” mean I can be silent no more. As I do not have all the material immediately to hand, I will restrict my letter to a more general response to the tone and substance of the “discussion” to date.
I have personally lived though the snowball earth, the spruce bud worm, acid rain, the ozone hole, Y2K, and the ever evolving global warming stories to name a few instances where it was reported that: the consensus is fill-in-the-blank, the world is ending in X years and very expensive things must be done NOW to save the planet or the fill-in-the blank organism. I have grown evermore disgusted with the disaster porn pervading the media, the internet and various institutions. Fear mongering works apparently. Just call me a skeptic. Give me evidence. I will only accept whatever hypothesis is under scrutiny as the most plausible explanation for something until such time as evidence arises which directly refutes the hypothesis. I look for black swans. Global warming or whatever the alarmists are calling it these days has been falsified repeatedly, contrary to the assertions of the true believers. But it is no longer about science (if it ever was). Global warming is now the sole property of politics. Catastrophic anthropogenic climate change has been debunked but it cannot be allowed to die because too many careers and too much money would disappear if people educated themselves about the science and ignored the politized consensus. Critical thinking is not taught or is ignored; the scientific method is poorly understood and we stand to suffer greatly from that lack.
Some of the more egregious points that make the rounds have been thrown at Jim Bertram in these pages but they occur repeatedly so I will tackle a few. The argument revolves around the hypothesis that climate change is a human-caused phenomenon and is directly attributable to carbon dioxide pollution. Skeptics are not “denying” climate change. Climate is the sum of weather variations in a specified region over a long time period. Climate change is normal; climate changed before the advent of humans, it continues to change while we are here and will continue long after we are gone. Carbon dioxide is not pollution; it is a normal constituent of our atmosphere and there is no direct cause and effect relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature. Temperature increases occur before increases in carbon dioxide thus falsifying the hypothesis.
Despite all the hand-wringing, the weather is not getting more extreme, droughts and floods are not increasing, ice is growing and/or retreating not disappearing, sea levels are not rapidly raising, the ocean is not acidifying and species are not going extinct at alarming rates to name a few of the projected consequences of global warming/climate change repeated ad nauseum. Inconvenient but true. The data does not back up these extraordinary claims. All these weather events have happened before and will happen again. A large percentage of the species which have evolved on earth became extinct before fossil fuels were discovered or used. More will go extinct and more will evolve to take their place. Pretending that humans giving up “carbon” will have any effect on the weather is nonsensical. However, tacking a reference to climate change onto your research proposal may get you more funding.
There are constant references to the warming temperatures and a 1-2 °C change over decades is viewed as absolutely catastrophic. The earth has been hotter and it has been much colder and every permutation in between but life is still here and adapting. Canada is warming at twice the average rate supposedly. Global temperature averages are a meaningless metric. Surface temperature records are an utter dog’s breakfast of adjustments, bias and political interference. Historical records of meteorological data have been manipulated and massaged (usually to increase past temperatures) to force agreement with problematic computer models. Computer models of climate have utterly failed to accurately predict anything; they have a 100% failure rate. More problematic for climate change adherents is the hiatus in warming. Despite increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide over twenty years, there has been no corresponding rise in ‘global average temperatures’ as measured by satellites. Measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have only been recorded since 1958, an eyeblink in Earth’s history. Strangely there are no questions raised over the placement of the CO2 recording station on top of an active volcano but no data cofounders here. The hysteria continues.
Scientists labelled deniers or sources quoted in Jim Bertram’s articles are judged to be biased against climate change; it is all propaganda from the oil and gas industry. Why do the people making such attacks never question the inherent biases of the so-called ‘climate scientists’? It is odd that no one is allowed to question the motivations of scientists working for the UN’s IPCC as one example. Peer review is frequently invoked as if it is magic cure-all. A scientist’s chance of publishing material in controversial subjects which contradicts the party line is minuscule, provided that they can secure funding to do the research in the first place. The phrase ‘publish or perish’ has a firm basis in reality. The vast amount of solid scientific literature that deals with issues of weather and climate etc. is cherry-picked or never referenced because it does not fit the political narrative of climate armageddon. Non-scientists and politicians at the IPCC spin the results of scientists to ramp up the alarm over global warming but their reports are taken as gospel and no questions are permitted.
A favourite argument of the climate change crowd is “the science is settled” or 97% of climate scientists agree with the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis. This is a fundamental misinterpretation of science. This is a repudiation of science. Science is never settled and is always subject to investigation and debate. The climate change/global warming narrative cannot be challenged without evoking the consensus of the experts. Many scientists have held firm to hypotheses on any number of topics over the years and they have been proven wrong. The dismissal of a skeptical point of view simply because it is being stated by non-scientist or a scientist without a degree in climate science (whatever that is) is a poor argument from authority and should be rejected. Scientists have the skills to evaluate claims and opine on subjects outside their realm of speciality because they have been trained to do so. Lay-people are also capable of employing critical thinking skills and investigating challenging subjects without having to acquire a university degree in the disputed subject. Those that believe whole-heartedly in global warming are never questioned about their depth of knowledge of the subject and are free to attack those that disagree with them.
As a scientist, I suggest that everyone should investigate global warming for themselves, decide for themselves, do not take anything on faith, regardless of the source. If someone cannot make a decision on what to believe, remain open-minded, become a skeptic and refrain from labelling your opponents. I have the knowledge and the skill set to evaluate the global warming hypothesis and the evidence does not support the claims being espoused. As new information is collected, I continue to examine it but to date nothing has changed my mind about so-called global warming. Therefore, I remain a skeptic and I deny nothing. I will wait to see if that makes me irrelevant.