Consider the IPPC report on climate change. The report is over 900 pages long, written by 620 authors and editors from 40 countries, and reviewed by hundreds of experts. Before being accepted, the summary for policy-makers was reviewed line-by-line by representatives from 113 governments. It presents the case for human induced climate change based on predictions from basic physics, projections from detailed climate modelling, and evidence from land based temperature readings, ocean temperature readings, ice measurements from glaciers, icecaps and frozen ground, sea level rises, hurricane and extreme weather events, and changes in patterns of winds, rainfall and drought. Although it isn’t highlighted in the report, further strong evidence comes from the changing distributions of plant and animal species. This evidence is so comprehensive and so compelling that governments, world wide, are acknowledging that this slowly unfolding crisis must be addressed (albeit, see the tragedy of Copenhagen, they are not yet translating that acknowledgement into effective action).
Despite all this evidence and the global acknowledgement of governments, there are people who would (for reasons beyond my comprehension) prefer to deny the existence of human induced climate change. The deniers make much of a mote, occasional errors in the vast body of evidence amassed by the IPCCC, in particular the incorrect claim regarding Himalayan glaciers. Yes it’s a bad look for errors to have made their way in to this document (though not in to the summary for policy makers). But two points. First, an error in one (or a few) claims does not discredit the rest of the vast body of evidence compiled by the IPCC. And second, this is how science works, by finding errors, acknowledging them, and fixing them.
Compare this mote with the beam in the eye of deniers. Deniers make many claims which are provably false. They keep making them, over and over, long after they are shown to be rubbish, trying by simple repetition to drum them in to the public discourse. So once again two points. First, deniers don’t seem to have any science on their side, so they are reduced to trying to pick holes in climate change science. And second, denier tactics are the opposite of science, instead of acknowledging and fixing their errors they repeat them over and over again.
So who you gonna believe?
To finish with a case study of stupid denier tactics – the snow storms which have been hammering the Northern hemisphere. A field day for deniers:
Climate skeptics built an igloo in Washington, D.C., during the recent storm and dedicated it to former Vice President Al Gore, who’s become the public face of climate change. There was also a YouTube video called “12 inches of global warming” that showed snow plows driving through a blizzard.
All good denier theatre to be sure, but it ignores the basic facts (from the same link):
“The fact that the oceans are warmer now than they were, say, 30 years ago means there’s about on average 4 percent more water vapor lurking around over the oceans than there was, say, in the 1970s,” he [a climate scientist] says. Warmer water means more water vapor rises up into the air, and what goes up must come down. “So one of the consequences of a warming ocean near a coastline like the East Coast and Washington, D.C., for instance, is that you can get dumped on with more snow partly as a consequence of global warming,” he says.
Expect more extreme weather events. Expect more stupid denier tactics. Expect endless hyping of the motes in climate change science while ignoring the beams of denier tactics. Climates change, but human stupidity appears to be enduring.