It is a month since my open Climate Change meeting: http://www.friendsinlowplaces.co.uk/OnceMore.htm
The key point that has emerged for me during and since the meeting is that personal theories about climate change, yours or mine, are of no significance whatsoever. The only thing that we non-experts should legitimately concern ourselves with is which of the two stories about climate change we can trust. Because it is clear that there are two stories. And they are diametrically opposed to one another. One calls for urgent global action; the other urges inaction. If we back the wrong one, or undermine our politicians in their attempts to back the right one, the consequences, we are being warned, could be beyond our imagination.
In deciding which story to trust, the suggestion I made at the meeting was that we should look at the language being used. I picked out two characteristic signs of material that should arouse suspicion: CERTAINTY and VITRIOL. Having reiterated the principle that science is never ‘certain’, I gave a number of examples of what I meant by ‘vitriol’. These made a big impression on the audience, especially the personal message from a well-known journalist I invited to the meeting, which I allowed people to read as a slide. To these two tell-tale signs we can now add a third, as described in two of the links below — ‘occult funding by vested interests’. And when these three come together to contradict the consensus view of global scientific expertise on such an overwhelmingly important issue I for one have not the slightest doubt where I will continue to place my trust.
There have been some important developments in the month since the meeting, some are shocking, but some are wonderfully encouraging. Here is my selection in chronological order:
- 21 January : President Obama’s Inaugural Address ‘Gives Climate Goals Center Stage’ “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/us/politics/climate-change-prominent-in-obamas-inaugural-address.html?_r=0
- 24 January: Billionaires secretly fund attacks on climate science Audit trail reveals that donors linked to fossil fuel industry are backing global warming sceptics http://tinyurl.com/ax8d3pg
- 26 January : Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’ http://m.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/27/nicholas-stern-climate-change-davos
- 7 February : Online poll shows 64% of Americans ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ favour the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions http://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/news/poll-americans-back-climate-change-regulation-not-taxes
- 15 February: Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups http://gu.com/p/3dnyn/tw
And here are the links I promised to sources of trustworthy information:
- Federal Advisory Committee. The best source for the current state of knowledge seems to me to be the Climate Assessment Report which this American body made public in draft a few days before our meeting. http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/ I cannot see how anyone could read the conclusions of this immensely authoritative and clearly-written report and persist in trying to undermine attempts to respond to the threat we all face.
- The Royal Society – Climate Change — A summary of the science: http://royalsociety.org/policy/publications/2010/climate-change-summary-science/
- The World Bank Another unequivocal statement, but from a different source http://climatechange.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/Turn_Down_the_heat_Why_a_4_degree_centrigrade_warmer_world_must_be_avoided.pdf
- The National Academies (of US Sciences) Video explaining how scientists have arrived at the current state of knowledge about recent climate change and its causes. Concluding words: “The picture that emerges from all of these data sets is clear and consistent – the earth is warming” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IuVzcp39rs&feature=youtu.be
- BBC An uplifting and inspiring Radio Four programme in the series Costing the Earth, showing what the Germans are doing; http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01q8mqh
- Skeptical Science www.skepticalscience.com ‘Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation’. This is a brilliant site which provides clear answers to the queries deniers keep on raising. There is even a smartphone app so that you can look up replies in the pub. (For one thing you can see clearly why it is a misnomer to call deniers ‘skeptics’)
Finally, here is the latest pie chart by James Powell, showing the miniscule number of peer-reviewed scientific papers which deny that global warming is caused by humans (Look for the green dot) The excellent website is at jamespowell.org – the methods and criteria are detailed there so that anyone can repeat the survey for themselves if they doubt the findings.