By Dr. Timothy Ball and Tom Harris
There is nothing particularly unusual about current weather and Climate change – it is generally well within long-term normal patterns. However, the public believes otherwise due to a combination of the way in which people have been taught to view nature, political exploitation of science and the hidden motives of environmental extremists. How did this happen and where are we headed if climate change hysteria continues unchecked?
Skewed View of Nature
Western education automatically assumes a 'uniformitarian' view of the World, a concept that change is gradual over long periods of time. As a consequence, sudden or extreme changes are considered abnormal by most of society. Yet even a cursory examination of climate records reveals variations in centuries past that are far faster and more severe than anything we are experiencing today.
Humans are naturally selective in what we notice. For instance, selectivity occurs when, after being introduced to someone, you seem to meet them frequently. They were always there, but just not part of your "noticing." Similarly, the media and the public have started to "notice" extreme weather, glacier melting, sea level rise, etc. more because alarmists tell us that an increase in such events is a precursor to the coming 'climate crisis'. Since people are on the lookout for such trends they seem to be accelerating even though recent quantitative studies demonstrate they are not (NRSP 'allied scientist' Dr. Madhav Khandekar has shown this clearly in his studies for the Alberta government, for example).
Phenomena such as severe weather events are now often presented as unusual or unique: it was the highest or lowest temperature, rainfall, etc., 'ever.' What is referred to is the barely century-old instrumental data-based official weather record, an inadequate sample of the Earth's five billion year history. Long term geologic records indicate much greater and more rapid changes occurred long before civilizations started.
Besides the public's lack of awareness of our planet's dynamic climate history, a difficulty in comprehending long time frames has made them susceptible to the propaganda of Al Gore and David Suzuki. Echoing Suzuki's myth of nature's "gentle rhythms", then Canadian environment minister Stéphane Dion told the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on
Political Exploitation of Science
The exploitation of climate science for purely political goals is occurring throughout the developed world. For example, politicians inCanada have started to ban inexpensive and convenient technologies such as light bulbs, coal fired electricity generation and used oil heating to "stop climate change." They can't show how the alternatives being promoted will actually help the environment – we are expected to simply believe that such sacrifices for the climate will benefit us all, even if real pollution levels rise, food prices increase as agricultural land is converted to biofuels production and millions of birds are cut to pieces by wind turbines. 'Believe' is the key word here, not 'think'.
Divorcing themselves entirely from science, political opportunists proceed to claim the moral high ground by appealing to our natural instinct to protect children. Combining such sentiments with religiosity and an adolescent 'we can do anything' approach, they end up with assertions so removed from the real world as to be laughable, were the consequences not so serious.
"Just as we lift our children up to feed them, and we hold them close to comfort them, and to protect them from any manner of harm, just as we would never, ever leave them trapped in a locked car in the hot sun, we must protect them from global warming." Boxer told an
Of course we have no chance of "reversing global warming" (and why would we want to? Global cooling is far more dangerous and climate is never constant). Boxer's rhetoric is simply an appeal to emotion over rational thought. Such an unscientific stance is bad for society and, ultimately, bad for the environment as well, but political spin doctors seem to have concluded that it still attracts many voters. As the public learn more about the issue, this will eventually backfire politically. This is why groups like the Natural Resources Stewardship Project focus so strongly on public education. Once a majority of the public recognize that many of the assertions of Boxer, Gore, Dion and Volpe have no basis in reality, politicians will have little choice but to radically alter their approach – either that or be voted out of office in disgrace.
Besides ignorance and political opportunism, what is driving this movement?
The principle target in all this is fossil-fueled based energy sources. Boxer summed it up neatly in her introduction to the June 28 Senate committee hearing, "reducing emissions from powerplants is a fundamental part of any solution to global warming."
Besides vote-seeking politicians, who else would want to dismantle our fossil fuel-based economy? Some beneficiaries of such an agenda are obvious – alternative energy providers are already reaping financial windfalls from the scare. Nuclear power companies stand to make significant gains as well, provided they are not shut down entirely by environmentalists who oppose them even more fiercely than they do fossil fuel corporations. Many scientists and engineers who support nuclear power for its real benefits understand how today's climate scare is largely groundless and so do not boost nuclear power as a means to avert a climate crisis.
Industry runs on energy, but you cannot directly attack the energy source because this would alienate the vast majority of the public who benefit from industrialization. The easiest way is to show that the byproducts of industrial activity are causing a planetary collapse. Even though untrue, this claim provides another popular moral high ground for activists. Demanding carbon dioxide reductions provided the vehicle and the United Nations supposedly provided the science for the theory that human addition of CO2 would lead to uncontrolled global warming. The theory quickly became fact, and the scientific method of testing, and accepting or rejecting, was effectively thwarted. Scientists who tried to pursue a normal scientific approach to the issue were quickly branded as pawns of the energy sector.
There are negative side-effects of industrialization of course, but eliminating industry also eliminates its exceptionally beneficial impacts on quality of life. Besides ignoring the natural evolution of the human species, in the extreme, today's climate alarmism is decidedly anti-human. Human progress is seen, not as a natural evolution, but an unnatural aberration.
The following quotes illustrate the dangerous anti-human nature of cells within the environmental movement, many of whom have adopted today's climate crusade as their primary raison d'être:
An equally extreme case is Peter Singer, a 'bioethicist' at
And of course the macabre " Voluntary Human Extinction Movement " is apparently alive and well with its "volunteer" class members agreeing that, "All of us should voluntarily refrain from reproducing further, bringing about the eventual extinction of Homo sapiens." Asserting that "Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health", the group's motto is "May we live long and die out."
In the extraordinary book "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" written 150 years ago by Charles Mackay, is written, "Men … think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
Let's hope that Mackay's pessimism is no longer quite so applicable in a world where instantaneous and inexpensive mass communications is a fact of life – certainly society cannot afford to continue to sleep at the switch while eco-activists rapidly come to dominate governments. Environmental extremism is the real threat to society, not the miniscule contribution human-emitted carbon dioxide might make to global climate. It will take time for the general public to finally recognize this but, when they do, expect the whole environmental movement, its good aspects included, to be set back at least a generation. That will be the sad legacy of Al Gore, Barbara Boxer and David Suzuki.