Climate Change

Kyoto a Go-Go

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 25, 2005

Anti-environmental think tanks are twisting themselves inside out trying to cast as much doubt on the science of climate change as they can. Staffed by career apologists for unfettered enterprise, pressure groups bloom like algae around the warm vents of corporate funding.

We're told there's no need to hurry, since climate change isn't proven, and even if does turn out to be true, it will probably be a good thing. After all, who doesn't want longer summers?

These groups pick names that feature the words "science", "science-based", and "public health", insisting that the evidence for climate change is growing weaker, even as it actually grows more compelling. With enough money to saturate the newsmedia with dissenting reports, they hope to cast douts and aspersions on the rapidly emerging climate change consensus.

Naomi Oreskes notes in Science Magazine that peer-reviewd scientific research on climate change is overhwlming in favour of human-caused that climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), formed by the United Nations in 1988, does not conduct its own research but reviews the published scientific literature to draw overarching conclusions. Each assessment report it has issued since its formation has been more decisive than the previous one, reflecting the growing certainty of climate science.

Every major scientific organization in the United States that specializes in science related to climate has concurred, based on the hundreds of peer-reviewed papers that draw similar conclusions.

Any significant debate about the validity of climate change science is occurring outside the field of scientific research.

Of course, it's possible that every scientist is wrong about climate change; scientists have been wrong before, and the mathematical models scientists use to project climate trends are still maturing.

However, it is dishonest, to say the least, to pretend that an overwhelming agreement among specialists in a field is actually a fierce debate. Ironically for the organizations that feature "science" so prominently in their names, their attempts to discredit the research into climate change is profoundly anti-scientific.

Of course, a great way to be successful is to tell people to go on doing what they're already doing, and a great way to convince people to do this is to sow as much confusion as possible about whether people are doing anything wrong.

Helping the think tanks along, the patina of journalistic "balance" in the mainstream media ensures that marginal, even ludicrous positions receive coverage out of proportion to the validity of their claims. Climate change science devolves into just another pro/anti dichotomy and becomes part of the background noise we all learn to ignore.

Once that's been accomplished, people's own emotional invesmtment in their lifestyle choices does the rest.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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