The Real Conspiracy behind Global Warming!
(Updated with latest Arctic ice and temperature CO2 relationships 19 Feb 2013)
Despite indisputable evidence of the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming, certain sections of the fossil fuel industry launched a concerted and coordinated campaign starting from the mid 1990s to undermine climate change science and the scientists who work in this field. Their purpose was to create doubt in the public's mind about the reality of global warming, and delay regulations which might limit greenhouse gas emissions to the environment. This article charts the history and evidence behind global warming and the motivations and methods used by certain unscrupulous powerful organisations to undermine climate science.
It has long been known that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. As far back as 1827 Jean-Baptiste Fourier first suggested that greenhouse gases kept the earth warmer, which was confirmed by John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius later on that century. In 1938 an Engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar predicted that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning would lead to a global increase of 2°C, with the poles warming more. This was a remarkable prophesy, since it is on course to what we observe today! Calendar’s predictions were later confirmed by several more detailed studies in the 1970s, including an elite group of ex-military physicist’s dubbed the ‘Jason’s’. By the 1990s professional climate scientists armed with an extensive range of measurements and calculations had removed all reasonable doubt that human activity was causing global warming. Even the oil industries own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted although this was later cut from the records.
So only as the evidence of greenhouse gas warming became undeniable did the fossil fuel businesses realise they might have confront the growing political pressure to reduce global warming. As a consequence, they employed a host of public relations experts, some who had successfully delayed regulations against the tobacco industry, to weave a web of misinformation using a variety of unscrupulous media and various 'junk science' websites. Their methods were not based on physical science but psychology, targeting both uneducated and low income groups using tried and tested methods of persuasion. These included: peer pressure, misrepresentation, over-simplistic arguments, reiteration of falsehoods, attacks on individuals and groups, and claimed threats on personal liberty and wealth.
The main object was not to win, but provide the impression of an informed 'debate' and to cast 'sufficient doubt' on climate science by spreading confusion and uncertainty. This would allow these businesses to fight a delaying action to avoid regulation, and thereby impose an enormous cost to future society. This highly co-ordinated campaign has lately been supplemented by attacks on the climate scientists themselves using misleading cherry picked extracts from stolen Emails attempting to implicate them in fraud. Yet all these documents reveal is a genuine but frustrated profession who are constantly being misquoted, misrepresented and attacked by media savvy and politically motivated groups.
Whilst more than 97% of scientists who are active publishers in the field of climate change accept the reality of AGW (anthropogenic or human induced global warming), a very small number of climate scientists and non-specialists lured by money from the fossil fuel lobby have been recruited into the Climate Denial camp. Their names often appear in petitions, mixed with fake identities and even the decreased, to make it appear as if there is a substantial proportion of scientists which oppose the AGW consensus.
AGW isn’t just a theory predicted by models, this effect can be experimentally observed in the laboratory, and a large number of sensors and instruments rely on the same principles to function. Moreover, satellites have measured a significant decrease in outgoing radiation. and ground measurements an increase in radiation at the wavelength bands associated with the main greenhouse gases as their concentrations have increased. This provides direct experimental evidence of the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere and removes any doubt that the increase in greenhouse gases MUST be having some effect.
A large number of studies using a variety of direct and proxy measurements of historical temperature and greenhouse gas concentrations further support AGW. Combining these tell us that the present world climate has probably never been warmer over the last one to two thousand years than at present and possibly for as long as 100,000 years. More importantly it shows that there has been an unprecedented warming over the last 100 years and in particular the last 30. The probability that this change has occurred naturally just as we have released vast quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is very unlikely even if we ignore the more direct evidence from satellites and calculations. As all other reasonable influences have been extensively studied and discounted, we can be assured beyond reasonable doubt that the current bout of global warming is mainly caused by the release of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning. This warming is continuing with the last decade being the warmest on record, 2009 being the second warmest year after 2005 and the first half of 2010 being the warmest so far.
However, greenhouse gases are not the only influence on temperature, there are other man made and natural causes at work, some which cause cooling as well as heating, and to determine the effect of each, these need be isolated. To do this requires the use of more specific measurements and models that have been produced, compared and scrutinised by some of the world’s finest climate scientists. (see below).
Climate models further confirm the common sense notion based on temperature trends and satellite measurements that greenhouse gases are mainly responsible for the current surge in global warming and will continue to cause substantial further increases unless they are reduced.
However, although the basics behind global warming are firmly established and is well supported by observations, science of this type always throws up odd anomalies. This provides opportunities for Deniers to misrepresent and undermine the conclusions reached by the substantial majority of scientists on what must be the most studied and scrutinised phenomenon in mankind’s history.
Global warming Denialism unlike other lunatic conspiracy theories such as the ‘faked moon landing’ would be amusing if it wasn’t so dangerous, irresponsible and selfish if not down right criminal. This is something that cannot be easily reversed. Once the Arctic sea ice melts in summer, the sunlight is absorbed onto the darker surface of the water, this warms the surface further. Also when the land permafrost melts, masses of the potent greenhouse gas methane will be released. Both these lead to what climate scientists call a positive feedback effect, a rapid increase in global temperature which cannot be subsequently controlled by reducing greenhouse gases. The reduction in Arctic sea ice area in recent years has been dramatic, however in addition there has been substantial thinning of the ice, and volume in September 2012 was less than in any previously recorded year. In fact the Arctic Sea ice is on course for disappearing completely within a few decades during the summer months.
Arctic sea ice volume in 1000s of cubic kilometers (via Robinson)
Be aware that the official reports from the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will usually be out of date by the time it is published, and it is always conservatively written due to political pressure. In the last report they had to tone down statements about climate feedback effects that should have been emphasised. This is itself worrying since the worst case scenarios are by far the most costly and disruptive and should be entered into the overall cost benefit equation. Ironically the IPCC scourge of most climate Deniers, have also been accused of corruption for not being alarmist enough! It seems they are stuck between a 'Rock and Hard Place'.
The US military provide a useful independent view on global warming and are far less reticent about these issues. In their report 'National Security and the threat of Climate Change', they include a section on abrupt climate change' not addressed by the IPCC scenarios which include the possibility of the rapid increase of sea level due to the break-up of glaciers caused by these feedback effects.
Based on all this evidence, one might think that Climate Deniers would have to be very sure before challenging the established view, yet the opposite is true, constantly undermining the evidence with a variety of unscrupulous techniques ranging from distortion to outright lies. Even if their ravings had any validity, what they are effectively advocating is something analogous to not insuring our shared house because they think it is unlikely to burn down, despite all the evidence pointing otherwise! This demonstrates either their naivety or callousness of their ideology, since it is not they but future generations which will need to clear up most of the mess.
Unless rapid action is taken to circumvent the onset of irreversible warming it will be impossible to stop the large-scale loss of habitat and large-scale land loss resulting in human migration, substantial economic cost and political turmoil in the long term. In view of the need to find alternative energy sources as well, the argument for concerted action to prevent global warming is indisputable.
The common myths and answers to global warming questions are widely available from reputable sources but are simply ignored by climate Deniers because their purpose is not to inform but confuse and mislead. Don't be swindled by them or allow their own ignorance or selfish motives destroy opportunities for future generations. Here’s a list of links that address their devious tricks and misinformation.
“The most important truths are likely to be those which society at that time least wants to hear” W. H. Auden
“I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters” Frank Lloyd Wright
The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true. Okrent's law