Climate change, why such uncertainty?
(Posted on 16/06/19)
A blog on a different subject- all be it a very topical one from my other life as an academic. Warning contains nothing about the Law or solicitors (but a lot about human nature and justice)
I have been researching and teaching climate change now for around 20 years. I’m still astonished by the amount of miss-information online, in newspapers and more worryingly by politicians who make decisions that affect us all and will affect many generations to come.
It seems that some who read a few articles or watch a few YouTube videos seems to think themselves an expert seem to want to impose their “expertise” on a wider audience, often not realizing they are spreading misinformation or doubt in the current state of scientific knowledge. I often wonder whether such people think that the researchers and experts have not considered and addressed their particular arguments before?
Sceptics seem to shout that doing something about climate change is an attack on our way of life, our civil liberties, our hard-earned money and say people who support it are fools when India and china aren’t doing anything (They actually are- but more on that in a future blog)
People want to know what the truth is. So, what do the top climate scientists actually think? A scientific “paper” is where a scientist or researcher publishes a new idea or a new set of results together with an extensive explanation of what they have done and sometimes propose a new theory. This is then published if it has merit and is how new theories on the cutting edge of science are born (Think Albert Einstein or Newton’s theory’s- they all started with a paper. Other scientists, who genuinely want to find out what the truth is, at conferences and research communities, spend a length of time trying to discredit new papers, this often leads to heated arguments and bitter revelries between competing theory’s which often goes on for many years and consensus is never fully reached. This is the peer review process. However, after I time, if the case is compelling enough, the majority of the people who understand most about the subject all agree on something and a new scientific truth emerges.
The level of research is intense in this field, for instance in science direct (A credible publisher) there have been 514,418 peer reviewed papers published with “climate change” mentioned. (more on that later).
The idea of manmade Climate change, the green house effect and global warming was first published in 1859 by John Tindal in which the “greenhouse effect” was understood and recognized. All that time ago, the leading scientists of the day asked the questions and posed the questions attacking the theory but scientists and researchers have long since settled these arguments and come to a consensus that it is a scientific truth.
The common consciences about climate change is quoted that 97% of climate scientist agree with manmade climate change. This comes from a study by Cook where he looked at many different other studies researching the number of papers for and against climate change. Of 7 independent studies he found they concluded 97%, 91%, 97%, 93%, 100%, 97%, 97% agreed, and published his finding in a paper, consensus on consciences. Some sceptics have even attacked this research but the consensus is is correct.
The climate change reports that politicians are given on this subject from the UKs and worlds top scientists reflect this view, so why the uncertainty?
I used to often wonder why anyone would believe anything different until I one day went down the rabbit hole that is YouTube. If a climate sceptic video is watched (and they are numerous) then the videos that fill up the column to watch next are all climate sceptic videos, reinforcing the first videos belief system of the viewer.
I have watched many of these sceptic videos and read many sceptic reports (In the hope that one of them will be correct and we don’t have anything to worry about) but alas they all fall in to categories such as cherry picking information, misunderstanding of scientific papers, looking at isolated things and not the big picture etc and unfortunately give a false picture. So, who makes these videos and why?
Oil, gas and coal businesses that stand to lose the most from a switch to clean energy because of climate change are among the richest business in the world. Their core business is responsible for pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They regularly donate to political parties and participate in a revolving door system of employment (Sending executives to work in government for a few years and then re-employing them).
If you present facts in the right way and keep re-enforcing them and spreading doubt you can get people to believe almost anything. I give you the flat earth.
And of the 500,000+ peer reviewed papers published in Science Direct mentioned above, in 2018-2019 up until June there have been 81,332 published to do with climate change, you would expect 3 in every 100 to be skeptical (that’s 2,439 skeptical papers) In actual fact ordering them in relevance I could not find any sceptical papers in the first 100- but they will be there. If I only quoted from these 2,439 papers and not the 78,893 that agreed with the consciences it would be very easy to fool people.
In my next blog I will be explaining how researchers are so sure about climate change and telling the truth of the current understanding.
I am often asked how a remain positive in the face of such misinformation:
You are very welcome to sit in on my lectures on the subject. The next will be on 12th August at Wrexham Glyndwr University at 9.00am.email me for details firstname.lastname@example.org
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