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Climate Change: The Unpopular Opinion Edition
A Hot Mess of Controversial Consensus and Hidden Agendas
Is climate change occurring? Absolutely. Climate change has been a natural occurrence throughout Earth's history, predating the industrial revolution. Our planet has experienced numerous cycles of significant climate variations, and similar changes have been observed on other celestial bodies, such as Mars.
However, the focus now lies on determining the extent of human influence on present-day climate change. The prevailing notion among the general public is that human activity predominantly drives climate change and that we are heading towards a complete climate catastrophe within a few decades.
Moreover, the public has been informed that around 97 percent of scientists support this catastrophic scenario. However, it is worth examining the origins of this statistic and its accuracy.
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The reality is that there exists a significant number of climate scientists and scholars within the field who hold a different perspective on climate change than the simplified narrative that is commonly propagated. Unfortunately, this dissenting view is often overlooked or omitted when presented to the public.
This situation reflects a mechanism where the repetition of a particular viewpoint, regardless of its accuracy, can shape public opinion. As highlighted by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, this approach can be effective in influencing the beliefs of the majority.
A similar pattern emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, where a notable minority, or even a majority, of doctors, scientists, vaccine developers, and renowned experts in infectious diseases expressed opposition to measures such as lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements. Many of these dissenting voices faced censorship and were labeled as "conspiracy theorists."
It is important to recognize that differing opinions exist within scientific and academic communities, and promoting open dialogue and respectful discourse is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of complex issues like climate change and public health crises.
It is worth reiterating the idea that the mainstream narrative has the power to make the minority seem like the majority and vice versa. This phenomenon might have played a role in shaping the perception surrounding the widely cited "97%" figure.
Controversial Consensus and Hidden Agendas
In the 1980s, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund emerged as a significant player in the global warming agenda. They proudly claim to be early advocates, having played a key role in the establishment of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.
During this period, a notable shift occurred in the messaging surrounding climate change, with the mainstream media frequently presenting alarming and apocalyptic scenarios. An example of such coverage can be seen in a June 29, 1989, Associated Press (AP) article featuring an interview with Noel Brown, who was the director of the New York office of the United Nations Environment Program at the time. In the interview, he warned of the potential for entire nations to be eradicated from the planet due to rising sea levels if the global warming trend was not reversed by the year 2000.
“Entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”
This, of course, did not occur, but it bears a resemblance to the current trend of predictions we witness today. This raises the question: What factors contribute to these ten-year projections, and how reliable are they? Is there a consensus among most scientists regarding their accuracy?
The initiation of this discourse can be attributed to an article written by Naomi Oreskes, a distinguished Professor of Science History and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.
In Oreskes' article published in 2004, she conducted an analysis of 928 papers encompassing the topic of “global climate change.” The article stated that "none of the papers contested the consensus position" regarding anthropogenic global warming. Oreskes argued that any remaining dissension among professionals was exceedingly limited in scope.
Additionally, in 2010, an academic named William R. Love Anderegg discovered that 97% to 98% of the 200 “most prolific” authors in the field of climate change held the belief that human-generated greenhouse gases were primarily responsible for the observed warming trends. This finding garnered significant attention, even though the perspectives of a mere 200 researchers and writers, out of the countless individuals engaged in the climate science discourse, do not represent a comprehensive consensus.
One of the notable publications that contributed to the widespread recognition of the 97% figure was a paper by Cook et al. in 2013. This study adopted a methodology similar to Oreskes', but instead of analyzing full content or conducting an in-depth examination of the scientific research, it focused on abstracts.
The paper investigated approximately 12,000 papers published between 1991 and 2011, utilizing the keywords “global warming” or “global climate change.” It asserted that 97% of climate scientists concurred with the notion that “humans are changing the climate.” The paper gained immense popularity and garnered well over 1 million downloads, making it one of the most widely accessed papers of all time.
According to Roy Spencer, a meteorologist and principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Joseph Bast, a Senior Fellow at The Heartland Institute, the widely cited claim that 97% of scientists agree on the man-made nature and urgent nature of climate change is erroneous. They argue that this so-called consensus is derived from a limited number of surveys and abstract-based studies, which have been contradicted by more trustworthy and robust research.
“The assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.” — Roy Spencera and Joseph Bast, The Wall Street Journal
There exists substantial evidence indicating that many experts in the field do not unanimously agree on the notion that humans are solely responsible for a catastrophic, armageddon-level climate change scenario. Numerous factors influencing our climate are not being adequately considered, leading to a broader spectrum of viewpoints among scientists. It appears that many non-climate scientists have joined the discussion without comprehensive expertise in the field.
For instance, a survey conducted in 2012 revealed significant skepticism among members of the American Meteorological Society. Furthermore, a petition signed by 31,000 scientists emphasized that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.” The crucial word to note here is “catastrophic,” indicating a specific level of severity being debated.
“Rigorous international surveys conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch – most recently published in Environmental Science and Policy in 2010 – have found that most climate scientists disagree with the consensus on key issues such as the reliability of climate data and computer models. They do not believe that climate processes such as cloud formation and precipitation are sufficiently understood to predict future climate change.
Surveys of meteorologists repeatedly find a majority oppose the alleged consensus. Only 39.5% of 1,854 American Meteorological Society members who responded to a survey in 2012 said man-made global warming is dangerous.”— Roy Spencera & Joseph Bast
One method employed to substantiate the notion of an overwhelming consensus is by surveying or polling scientists regarding their agreement on certain basic facts, such as the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, the slight warming of the Earth, and the influence of human activities on these trends.
The issue with this approach is that these basic facts are widely acknowledged and agreed upon by the majority of climate scientists. What remains in dispute, however, is the interpretation of these facts in terms of their implications for potential dangers. Despite the lack of consensus in this regard, the narrative has persistently portrayed these basic facts as unequivocal support for catastrophic scenarios and alarmist perspectives.
“Our crop plants evolved about 400 million years ago, when CO2 in the atmosphere was about 5000 parts per million! Our evergreen trees and shrubs evolved about 360 million years ago, with CO2 levels at about 4,000 ppm. When our deciduous trees evolved about 160 million years ago, the CO2 level was about 2,200 ppm – still five times the current level.”—Dennis T. Avery, agricultural and environmental economist, senior fellow for the Center for Global Food Issues in Virginia, and formerly a senior analyst for the U.S. Department of State.
The Politics, Fear-mongering, and Controversies Behind the Climate Change Agenda
The prevalence of alarmism surrounding climate change has led to the implementation of political policies and significant decisions that impact our way of life. Unfortunately, these measures often result in the erosion of privacy, freedom, and the expansion of a powerful surveillance state, ultimately concentrating more wealth and control in the hands of the affluent “one percent.” Concerns have also been raised regarding the potential future implementation of climate lockdowns.
Prominent figures such as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have frequently employed the 97 percent statistic to support their claims. Kerry even went so far as to assert that “97 percent of peer-reviewed climate studies confirm that climate change is happening, and that human activity is largely responsible.” This messaging continues to dominate the discourse within the realm of mainstream politics.
Moreover, it is crucial to acknowledge that attempting to encapsulate a diverse range of opinions within a single numerical value oversimplifies the complexity of this issue and disregards the nuances inherent in scientific discourse.
As Oreskes aptly points out in her article, it is often challenging to ascertain the precise stance of authors regarding global climate change from their papers alone.
Doomsday scenarios and alarmist narratives may capture attention, generate interest and clicks and sell advertisements, but they fail to convey the intricate nature of scientific inquiry. Apocalyptic predictions lack a solid evidentiary foundation and, instead, contribute to unnecessary panic and fear. Such false narratives can overwhelm readers, leading to a sense of inaction and hopelessness, particularly among the younger generation. It is important to foster a more nuanced understanding of the science and promote a balanced approach that empowers informed decision-making and effective action.
A parallel to this politicization can be observed in the context of the COVID-19 vaccine policy. In February 2022, a group of researchers from various academic institutions in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada published a paper titled “The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: Why Mandates, Passports, and Segregated Lockdowns may cause more Harm than Good.” In their paper, they highlight the following:
“Public and political discourse rapidly adopted a stigmatizing attitude towards individuals who remained unvaccinated. This attitude was often reflected in the tone and framing of media articles, with some popular news outlets even compiling lists of 'notable anti-vaxxers who have died from COVID-19' (Savulescu and Giubilini, 2021). Political leaders have specifically targeted the unvaccinated, attributing to them the perpetuation of the pandemic, strain on healthcare capacity, the emergence of new variants, transmission to vaccinated individuals, and the necessity of ongoing lockdowns, mask mandates, school closures, and other restrictive measures."
This demonstrates how political leaders and media outlets have singled out unvaccinated individuals, assigning blame to them for various aspects of the pandemic, and using such narratives to justify the implementation of stringent measures.
Numerous instances can be found highlighting the influence of politics on climate reports. For instance, a noteworthy example can be traced back to the 1995 2nd Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where the agenda seemed to overshadow and suppress the actual scientific findings. Within the draft, the scientists included the following statements:
“None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed (climate) changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”
“No study to date has positively attributed all or part (of observed climate change) to anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) causes.”
“Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”
However, it is important to note that the "summary" and conclusion statement of the IPCC report were crafted by politicians rather than scientists. In numerous instances, climate scientists have highlighted that the process often necessitates altering the scientific reports to align with the politicians' final "summary." Consequently, the original three statements by scientists mentioned earlier were substituted with the following statement in the final version:
“The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”
The New York Times briefly touched upon the accusations made by many "skeptics" who claimed that the report was exaggerating and inaccurately linking human activity to the potential for catastrophic climate change without sufficient scientific evidence to support such assertions.
Dr. Richard Lindzen, the lead author of Chapter 7, “Physical Climate Processes and Feedbacks,” in the IPCC's Third Assessment Report on climate change and a retired Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, expressed his concerns about this issue. He questioned how the scientific community had reached a point where it had shifted its focus away from understanding the Earth's climate and explaining its remarkable history, and instead devoted itself to conforming to a component of political correctness. Dr. Lindzen suggested that a broader perspective might be necessary to comprehend the underlying dynamics at play.
“How did we get to this point where the science ceased to be interested in the fascinating question of accounting for the remarkable history of the Earth’s climate for an understanding of how climate actually works and instead devoted itself to a component of political correctness? Perhaps one should take a broader view of what’s going on.”
The individuals involved in addressing the issue of climate change can generally be categorized into three groups. Groups 1 and 2 primarily comprise scientists, while group 3 encompasses politicians, environmental groups, and the media.
A World of Environmental Disasters and Suppressed Dissent
I find it perplexing that significant environmental disasters, such as the recent chemical spill and train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, along with devastating human activities resulting in widespread deforestation and severe pollution of our natural resources, often fail to receive the urgency and attention they deserve. It is undeniable that we are inflicting harm upon our planet, our home. In light of this, it is important to question whether governments genuinely prioritize the well-being of the Earth or if they exploit the issue of climate change for their own selfish interests and hidden agendas, such as benefiting big businesses.
It is indeed disheartening to witness the current state of affairs, as humans possess the capacity to build a world and an environment in which all forms of life can flourish.
The intricate scientific aspects surrounding the CO2 narrative warrant a separate article to delve into. The correlation between CO2 and temperature exhibits certain gaps and uncertainties that merit further examination and analysis.
“Now, here is the currently popular narrative concerning this system. The climate, a complex multifactor system, can be summarized in just one variable, the globally averaged temperature change, and is primarily controlled by the 1-2% perturbation in the energy budget due to a single variable – carbon dioxide – among many variables of comparable importance. This is an extraordinary pair of claims based on reasoning that borders on magical thinking. It is, however, the narrative that has been widely accepted, even among many skeptics. This acceptance is a strong indicator of the problem Snow identified. Many politicians and learned societies go even further: They endorse carbon dioxide as the controlling variable, and although mankind’s CO2 contributions are small compared to the much larger but uncertain natural exchanges with both the oceans and the biosphere, they are confident that they know precisely what policies to implement in order to control.”—Lindzen
It is plausible that Lindzen and others could be mistaken in their viewpoints. However, the crux of the matter lies in the lack of open discussion and presentation of opposing perspectives within the mainstream discourse. Critics argue that dissenting scientists who challenge the prevailing consensus are often subjected to demonization, ridicule, character assassination, and censorship.
During a World Economic Forum (WEF) anti-disinformation panel in September of the previous year, Melissa Fleming, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, made a statement asserting that they “own the science.” Her remark was specifically linked to the organization's climate change agenda and its efforts to combat what they deemed as “misinformation.”
It may seem that prevailing beliefs are influenced more by dogma driven by political agendas and the interests of those seeking to exploit the vast opportunities in the multi-trillion dollar energy sector. In this scenario, leaders may appear to prioritize their own agendas while presenting themselves as champions of environmental preservation. However, it is essential to acknowledge that alternative interpretations exist and consider multiple perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation.
If we are unable to engage in open and respectful discussions about fundamental ideas, what kind of world will we create if our instinct is to evade, conceal, and censor rather than embrace meaningful conversations? It is essential for us to question how deeply we identify with our positions, as this can impede our ability to freely explore and adapt to new ideas that may enhance our understanding of the world.
By fostering an environment where we are liberated from rigid attachment to specific viewpoints, we can create space for intellectual growth and progress. This requires cultivating a willingness to consider alternative perspectives and being open to shifting our ideas when new information becomes available. In doing so, we can foster a society that encourages the free exchange of ideas, enabling us to make more informed choices and collectively shape a better future.
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