Talking Climate Change with Science-Deniers, Distorters, and Sound-Biters
It can be frustrating engaging in a discussion where facts are denied or distorted. Equally frustrating is dealing with beliefs that are treated as facts and dependent on sound bites. Climate change is one such topic.
Climate change is a given. The Earth has never had a stable climate, which can be verified by scientific evidence. The relevant question involves the level of impact human activity is having on the climate.
The information that follows is a fraction of that collected over more than ten years. Let's organize the discussion by considering three questions.
a) What is the goal of the man-made climate change push?
Many people accept that the goal is saving humanity from an existential climate change threat. Evidence indicates that is not the case. Here is one example.
The United Nations has been one of the organizations leading the manmade climate change push. The paragraph below, from the February 10, 2015 Investor's Business Daily article "U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare" seems to state the goal clearly.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism. "This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution," she said.
b) Does science/data support the man-made climate change claim?
At a science denial forum, which can be watched at the link below, it took over an hour for panelist Michelle Thaller, with NASA, to admit it is not known if carbon dioxide, methane, or some other gas is causing climate change. The unstated assumptions being made appear to be that a gas is causing climate change and the total amount of the gas is primarily determined by human activity. This specific statement can be heard at timestamp 1:02:58.
The current push involves significantly reducing carbon dioxide levels, but does this make sense? Carbon dioxide makes up approximately 0.04% of all greenhouse gases. Estimates indicate that human activity contributes 50% of the total and the U.S. is responsible for 20% of that amount. In a stadium with 100,000 seats 0.04% amounts to 40 seats, 50% of 40 is 20 seats or 0.02%, and 20% of 20 is 4 seats or 0.004%. None of these percentages appear significant, including total elimination of manmade carbon dioxide.
During the age of dinosaurs, evidence indicates that carbon dioxide levels were up to ten times higher than current levels. Since life thrived with these much higher carbon dioxide levels, it raises doubts that current levels pose an existential threat. Much of the carbon composing the carbon dioxide at that time is unavailable to create carbon dioxide today, having been sequestered under the oceans as limestone.
Plants, a critical part of the food chain, require carbon dioxide to survive. Plants also utilize carbon dioxide to create the oxygen all other life requires. Too little carbon dioxide poses an existential threat to all life on Earth.
The existential threat predictions of climate change are based on computer models. Let's consider the accuracy of such models.
The climate is a complex dynamic system involving a number of sciences and even more inputs. Global climate models are much more complex than daily regional weather models. The ability to predict tomorrow's weather versus the climate 100 years from now might be considered as challenging as predicting a person's health tomorrow versus their health 50 years from now.
The accuracy of daily weather prediction models is questionable. Temperature predictions 12 to 24 hours into the future are not consistently accurate, not to mention other aspects of weather prediction. Multiple forecasting models are used concurrently to predict hurricane paths and severity. These rarely agree and are specialty models forecasting only a few days into the future. If such short term weather models lack accuracy what is the likelihood of accurate predictions from climate models?
Climate computer models exclude some significant inputs, such as changes in the sun's output. The Greenhouse Effect is the claimed climate change driver. Results from models not accounting for changes involving the primary energy source in that process must be questioned.
c) What climate is normal, and is that normal climate optimal for supporting human life?
As an example of potential variations in climate, let's consider a region near the Great Lakes. It has experienced the following climates based on scientific evidence. It was under the ocean, based on limestone and sea life fossils. It was hot enough to support lush plant life, based on significant coal formations. It was under a mile-thick glacier, based on geological evidence. Similar variations in climate conditions can be proven to have existed in regions around the world.
Such significant climatic variations suggest there is no such thing as a normal climate. An argument might be made that during much of the Earth's history, the climate has not been optimal for supporting human life over large portions of the planet. While humans can survive in a wide variety of climates, humanity thrives in many regions of the planet today solely due to technology.
In conclusion, science-distorters and sound-biters claim that the global climate is headed for a few degrees of warming, which will be disastrous, ignoring the fact that the Earth is coming out of a global ice age and warming is to be expected. Evidence indicates that the push for carbon dioxide reduction involves changing the global economic model and not preventing an existential climate change threat. Science does not appear to support the hypothesis that human activity is creating an existential climate threat. Utilizing climate models of questionable accuracy raises doubts about prediction veracity. Finally, significant climate change is a given. Pursuing a goal of preventing climate change seems egotistical. Utilizing the human ability to adapt to the Earth's ever changing complex climate system seems a better option.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to correct an error regarding the stadium hypothetical.
Image via Public Domain Pictures.