Frequently after a presentation someone will ask me the rhetorical question, “So, you are telling us the majority of scientists, the IPCC, and National Academies of Science are all wrong.” The argument implies you must be wrong because the majority disagrees; it implies it is not credible to believe so many people are deceived. But the consensus argument is countered by the point that consensus is not a scientific fact.
As proof that consensus views should be viewed skeptically, take a look at the massive failure of the financial markets and financial systems, which shows how a majority of people including world leaders, politicians, academics, business leaders and the media were fooled.
The financial debacle and the climate change misdirection fit Abraham Lincoln’s dictum, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” Maybe now politicians the public and the politicians will acknowledge that they can be and have been fooled about climate change.
A few were warning about the problems in the financial system appeared early, but they were easily marginalized. Evidence of cracks in the system were papered over and dismissed as anomalies. Some people and companies were pursued and prosecuted for misrepresentation of data and malfeasance, but they were dismissed as isolated rogue cases, not part of a serious systemic failure of the financial world. Governments, including politicians and bureaucrats, either didn’t understand or pretended everything was in order leading to actions that ignored the basics and made matters worse.
Now, after the Dow Jones plummeted from its all-time high in 2007 and the fallacy and house of cards of the world financial system was exposed, the question is: How were so many people misled? How could a system with so many flaws, failures, misconceptions and misdirection persist? A list of explanations includes; greed, lack of understanding of a complex system, and exploitation of economic opportunities by a few with sociopath tendencies. Greed overrode fear and lack of understanding as people who didn’t know a derivative from a hedge fund pursued wealth, the standard of security in a monetary world.
The climate change issue is similar. A few warned about the problems, but they were marginalized. Identification of faulty science, misrepresentation of data and malfeasance were dismissed as isolated cases not part of a serious systemic thwarting of science and the scientific method.
Governments, including politicians and bureaucrats, either didn’t understand or completely misidentified the problems leading to actions that ignored the basics and created unworkable or destructive legislation such as Kyoto or carbon taxes.
And how were so many people misled? How could a system with so many flaws, failures, misconceptions and misdirection persist? Similar to the financial crisis, the reasons include fear, lack of understanding and exploitation of economic opportunities. Fear overrode greed and a lack of understanding as people who didn’t know a greenhouse effect from radiation balance pursued environmentalism, the standard of security in a developed world.
The financial situation is not my area of expertise so I will not comment. However, proposals to deal with climate change are completely misdirected and potentially more damaging to people and economies than the financial. Many governments used the downturn in the economy as an excuse not to act. As Frank O’Donnell notes, “the state of economic turmoil throws up a whole new question mark over climate change legislation. It was already an uphill struggle and the state of the economy has made the angle of that hill even steeper. I’m not expecting any economic-wide effort to introduce the cap and trade measures to come bouncing on to the Senate floor any time soon.”
In Europe it’s the same story
Recently, European Union nations began picking apart a vast package to combat climate change as their industries suffer under the weight of the global financial crisis. Italy, whose Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi threatened to veto the plans, led calls for significant changes to be made and demanded a review mechanism, saying it was not the only nation ready to take a stand.
We cannot stop climate change because we, or our CO2, are not the cause. There is no record of any duration for any time period in which CO2 increase precedes a temperature increase. Even if all countries implemented the complete Kyoto Protocol the difference in atmospheric CO2 would be undetectable. Saying we must adapt to climate change appears to avoid the issue but ignores that all adaptation plans are for warming.
Evidence for cooling continues despite contrary comments. Some say the 2000-2008 period was warmer than previous decades, but this ignores the downward trend – a trend contradicting the IPCC prediction as this plot shows. Compare the purple line in the accompanying chart (the actual trend) with the IPCC prediction (the orange/brown line).
Despite persistent failures of the IPCC predictions, most politicians are fooled into believing CO2 is a problem and the cause of climate change. Even if they don’t accept that, they believe it is political suicide to assume otherwise. They accept the argument that all those prestigious groups can’t be wrong. Sorry, but they can and they are.
Abraham Lincoln’s dictum applies to climate change. Environmental extremists will continue to be fooled; those who were not fooled will have no pleasure in “I told you so;” and we only need enough people to realize they’ve been fooled to force or allow politicians to face reality.