The climate scientists at the centre of a media storm were today cleared of accusations that they fudged their results and silenced critics to bolster the case for man-made global warming.
The damage has already been done.
What’s of interest to me here is not the clearing of data – that’s never in doubt – but that the media has given so much attention to it. It provides ammunition (albeit blank) to people who deny man-made climate change exists.
You know, the people who, purely on a hunch or because they read something in a newspaper, deny the massive increase in global mean temperature is anything to do with our industrial activities, without even considering the scientific facts; moreover, choosing to rely on debunked statements based on discredited, false data. Or even worse, listening to people like this.
Such denial has been going on for over a decade now, a lot of it funded by the private sector. By that, I mean environmentally destructive corporations have sought to pay scientists in order to legitimise their polluting activities.
Industry opponents of a treaty to fight global warming have drafted an ambitious proposal to spend millions of dollars to convince the public that the environmental accord is based on shaky science.
Among their ideas is a campaign to recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry’s views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that trap the sun’s heat near Earth.
An informal group of people working for big oil companies, trade associations and conservative policy research organisations that oppose the treaty have been meeting recently at the Washington office of the American Petroleum Institute to put the plan together.
The website Exxonsecrets.org, using data found in the company’s official documents, lists 124 organisations that have taken money from the company or work closely with those that have. These organisations take a consistent line on climate change: that the science is contradictory, the scientists are split, environmentalists are charlatans, liars or lunatics, and if governments took action to prevent global warming, they would be endangering the global economy for no good reason. The findings these organisations dislike are labelled “junk science”. The findings they welcome are labelled “sound science”.
The upshot is, this bribery influences what we, the public, think about the subject.
There exists a very serious industry that actively seeks to discredit hard, scientific data, that the vast majority of the world’s scientists are in agreement with. That is: yes, climates fluctuate – one only has to examine ice-core sediments – but human activity has artificially warmed the globe, forcing (for example), fragile ecosystems – which communities depend upon for food sources, and ultimately to survive – to teeter on the brink of collapse.
It just so happens that the reality is becoming increasingly obscured. There are some very loud mouthed individuals who are either funded by, or have serious investments in, heavily polluting industries – or at the very least are influenced by such individuals – and these people occupy space in broadsheets where they seek to influence public opinion. They rant, scream, and cry that everyone else is mad, no matter how many times they’re proven wrong.
These opinions reject what 97.5% of publishing climatologists (or around 90% of all publishing scientists) believe to be true.
You should not listen to a word these deniers say. Such oral emissions are a foul pollutant indeed.