“The debate is over. We know the science. We see the threat, and we see the time for action is now.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Hoax and The Hockey Stick
Not only is global warming, aka climate change, one of the most important issues of our time, it is also one of the most fractious. The POTUS has called climate change a hoax and stepped out of the Paris Agreement against the people’s wishes. Behind him are many sophisticated denial campaigns with fraudulent science claims made by mercenary or paid scientists funded by dark money.
The American denial of global warming (video) goes back many decades to the first IPCC report at least which concluded that man-made warming was an issue in 1995. Corporate interests have silenced this science with slick propaganda in order to protect profit margins since the beginning of this debate. Koch Brothers Industries and Exxon Mobile have also funded several climate science denial front groups. One such group is the Heartland Institute which actually argued historically that smoking was good for people to hide the fraud of the tobacco industry.
In 2017, Michael Mann, eminent Climate Scientist, and author of the Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, testified before the House Science Committee hearing on a hung panel of 3 against 1. These well-known deniers included John Christy, Judith Curry, and Roger Pelke. This unbalanced climate change hearing proved pointless largely because the deniers made what appeared to be scientifically valid arguments, even though these arguments were fraudulently falsified, corrupted by profit margins, and dangerously delusional. Curry (video) supplied a plethora of falsified testimony claiming natural variability, increased sea ice, and a coming ice age under oath against Mann along with Christy and Pelke despite the undeniable and overwhelming evidence that warming is happening and that it is man-made.
According to RationalWiki “Judith Curry has agreed with Trump’s description of climate change as a ‘hoax’, writing in 2016 that the UN’s definition of man-made climate change ‘qualifies as a hoax’. In short, she’s the Richard Lindzen of the South. Or maybe the Roy Spencer of Georgia, take your pick.” The list of deniers on these matters is a long one. Even as the tide is turning with undeniable climate chaos is mounting, their claims that the Greenhouse Effect is wrong and that global warming is not man-made just keep coming.
In the following video with Dr. Michio Kaku, eminent physicist asks how we know CO2 is a driver of climate change and that it’s man-made. These questioned are answered by Dr. Peter Ward, Paleoclimatologist and Dr. David Archer, author of The Long Thaw. “The Greenhouse Effect is very solid science that is over 100 years old,” says David Archer. At one point Dr. Kaku plays devil’s advocate and asks Dr. Archer, could it be that the Earth is just warming ‘naturally’ and this is not man-made? Dr. Archer replies ‘there is objective reality. We can actually measure the climate sensitivity and the first estimate of this goes back to 1896. CO2 is the smoking gun of climate change. (…) Also, how could we prove they are not related might be a better question?’
The False Claims
In denial science propaganda campaigns like The Environment: The True Story (video), or The Global Warmth Blog and many others, Ole Humlum is a contributor of faux science graphs and data interpretations that look very realistic. Humlum, routinely supplies contrarian arguments and even ‘evidence’ for denialism corroborating the bad science of politicians and oil interests. These deniers have has become the experts at testifying that CO2 and temperatures increases are just natural variations and as such have nothing to do with anthropogenic causes despite the well established Greenhouse Effect. They routinely perpetrate the most common climate change myths despite how many times they have been debunked. Let’s review a few of them here.
Deniers may also cite that the last inter-glacial period was warmer, and that we are following a similar trend (which will ultimately lead to another ice age). They also claim there is not enough data. For example Judith Curry repeatedly claims in her testimony that we cannot yet understand this science because there are not enough multidecadal data going into the deep past to know this. Curry provides no explanation or acknowledgement of the basics physics behind global warming that has been known for centuries and/or out and out denies it. However, proxy data like ice cores, tree rings, sediment layers and more, clearly supplies the multidecadal information that counters this view completely.
Still the deniers persist in conveying a message of don’t worry, global warming is natural, the increased CO2 comes from the oceans, and humanity can carry on burning fossil fuels. Humlum, Curry and other deniers claim falsely that existing climate models are based on the improper assumption that CO2 controls temperature, for which we have no data, and no correct predictions to show this. Humlum further concludes:
“One should therefore consider moving the focus of climate research from CO2 to the nature and significance of natural variation, both related to the sun and other [natural causes]. It is most likely where we will find the main reason for the present (and future) climate change.” This is the crux of his argument. Dr. Humlum’s complete counter arguments can be found at The Hockeyshtick blog.
Deniers also like to cast further doubts on whether or not global warming is a hoax by blaming weather and not climate. For example they say where’s the global warming when a polar vortex descends on portions of the US as it did January of 2019. Michael E. Mann, Paleoclimatologist says “such a myopic view of weather extremes can be exploited by those who look to cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus behind human-caused climate change.”
The Smoking Gun of Global Warming
There is no doubt that CO2 is the smoking gun of global warming. We have consistent evidence that CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere and we know that more heat in the atmosphere means there is more energy in the system. In the most simplified argument anyone can easily see that more energy go into the system than going out, and according to James Hansen PhD (video), this creates a planetary energy imbalance.
Also, according to Skeptical Science “since the hockey stick paper in 1998, there have been a number of proxy studies analyzing a variety of different sources including corals, stalagmites, tree rings, boreholes and ice cores. They all confirm the original hockey stick conclusion: the 20th century is the warmest in the last 1000 years and that warming was most dramatic after 1920.” Correspondingly, the latest IPCC Report concludes we are seeing the highest temperatures in 1300 years. Here is just one of the famed hockey stick graphs showing this data modeling:
Additionally, we should note that we tend to focus only on CO2 however there are many interrelated factors working together to produces these effects over time with GHGs as primary drivers. However, deniers often overlook the many factors at work here due to the complexities of how they are interrelated and the physics involved. The tendency to jump to conclusions and oversimplify this science is very strong among politicians, corporate entities, mainstream media journalists, and others who have not studied the big picture complexities inherent in these vast systems. Also, the mathematics behind them is often completely overlooked.
According to Tom Yulsman at Discover Magazine “researchers also never contended that CO2 is the sole factor driving climate changes over geologic history. As we’ve seen, however, it plays a key role: Without the CO2 thermostat, Earth would likely be a proverbial snowball.” We tend to focus on CO2 but the picture is actually much more complex. There are also differences in C12/C13 ratio impacts.
Further there are many complexities in the paleoclimate record that are often overlooked by deniers rather purposefully. These are highlighted on the SW Wiki Paleoclimatology 101 Page >>
The Role of Human Activity
In its latest report, the IPCC on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts concluded there’s a more than 95 percent probability that human activities have warmed our planet. Further according to Skeptical Science, “the evidence for a dominating human role in the CO2 increase is extremely strong. The 38% increase (in 2009) in atmospheric CO2 observed since pre-industrial times cannot be explained by natural causes. CO2 levels in the atmosphere have varied naturally throughout Earth’s history. However, CO2 levels are now higher than any seen in the past 800,000 years.” The following graph co-authored by H.J. Schellenhuber in the massive meta study Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene shows the modeling of this data and the exponential function used to calculate this:
According to NASA, “the industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.”
At this point we know that the increased temperatures scientists are charting are not caused by orbital changes, volcanoes, solar activity, ozone pollution, aerosol pollution (which actually reduces warming), deforestation, natural factors, land use, or any of the other things commonly erroneously blamed. The human activity related to burning fossil fuels is a primary driver of global warming as this interactive infographic from LiveScience shows:
How Can We Respond to Climate Change Denial?
At this point, these false claims masquerading as science represent an ethical failure and malpractice on a social scale never seen before in history. The facts of climate change are indisputable. These bad actors who take no responsibility for the damages their lies cause are literally disputing the indisputable and getting away with murder. Many are calling for lawsuits against these bad actors including NRDC, Climate Kids, and Scientists’ Warning (video).
This is not nearly as straightforward as it may ostensibly seem and journalists, large corporations and politicians speaking on these matters are usually not in the know on these matters like scientists. We really have to be careful who we listen to and be prepared with quick responses to deniers. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine are considering a “quick-response capability” to challenge public misinformation about climate science.
The nation’s intelligence community warned in its annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report released this week that climate change poses severe risks to global stability because it’s likely to “fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent.”
In his latest book, The End of Ice, Dahr Jamail cites Dr. Harold Wanless, a sea level rise expert who says that for every 100 ppm of CO2 you add to the atmosphere you get a corresponding 100 feet of sea level rise, which means we already have approximately 130 feet of sea level rise locked in. We are in dangerous, uncharted territory and denial is only making matters worse.
“…if climate change has to stop, then we must stop it. It is black and white. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.” – Greta Thunberg
This issue is black and white as Greta Thunberg says, because if we continue to deny this problem, we won’t continue as a global species. The debate is over. The only question that remains is what will we do about it?
- Climate Change Cluedo: Anthropogenic CO2
- Does CO2 always correlate with temperature (and if not, why not?)
- Empirical Evidence Humans are Causing GW | SS
- How Do We Know it’s Man-Made: The Evidence
- Paleoclimatology 101
- 10 Myths About Climate Change | WWF
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- Schellenhuber, H.J. (2018). Actual Expert tells audience, we won’t have an Ice Age again! Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyWSMovZLVY&t=1418s
- Skeptical Science (2019). Hockey stick or hockey league. Retrieved from https://www.skepticalscience.com/Hockey-stick-or-hockey-league.html
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- Ward, Peter (2013). Our future In a world without ice caps. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtHlsUDVVy0