954 Truth in the Climate Change debate

Oh no, another blog about climate change. Is that really necessary? Oh yes.

I was passed-on an email with the subject line “Without Trump, Climate Grief* Could Stampede Us Into Dictatorship” (sooo funny ... with Trump we are practically in a dictatorship); but I get ahead of myself.

*“Climate Grief” - depression, panic, rage and a sense of powerlessness

cartoon by Ron Tandberg


The email was about an article on Savvystreet.com … I started reading and had to stop at: “The recent international climate conference in Katowice, Poland, a holiday junket for some 60,000 delegates …” A holiday junket? And 60,000 delegates? Awww, in my country of birth and its former capital, Bonn, the same show the year before attracted a measly 11,300. And in Paris, the year before that, they had around 15,000 attendants. So, 60,000 in Poland … hmmm. But the figure is so wrong it’s not funny, it actually was 13,898: “At just under 14,000, the total number of party delegates is smaller than in Paris, but larger than in Bonn last year.” Carbonbrief.org

But, you know, what do you do when you come across such an egregious error? Well, if you’re like me, you’re sucked in. So off I went and read the whole article. 


It’s interesting; Savvystreet's tenor is laissez-faire capitalism and conservative libertarianism writ large, along the lines of, “in order to feed the masses we need companies to profit more; and less government intervention”. And, of course, “We need coal to keep the economy going” (The author* bemoans, "[the climate conference's SR-15 report] is the wish list of generations of government planners of the economy: overriding the free markets they abhor, seizing the levers of power over major industries, and imposing their vision of 'fundamental societal and systems transitions'.”)

* the author, Walter Donway, says at the end of his article: “I am indebted to Prof. Charles N. Steele, chairman of the Department of Economics at Hillsdale College, for several ideas in his article “Climate Doom Ahead? Think Twice!” that appeared in Real Clear Energy, December 26, 2018.

However, as Donway then says, “SR-15 is not a scientific report. It is an ideological platform.” ...

... An interesting claim in view of that he "assumes you are aware that the world is within a dozen years of irreversible catastrophe. At least you are if you read the New York Times - or actually pay attention at all to the media." 

You see "the media", lead by a quality newspaper like the NYT, have no idea ... but an obscure outlet like Savvystreet, with their Alternative Facts, does. 

Trumpism at its best! 

Reminiscent of the time I asked, "well ... don't you read Legacy Media at all ... like the Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Times, London Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald etc. (with, mind you, their sizeable fact-checking departments)? And I got the answer, "no, I get my news from Social Media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter). Oh dear! See my blog 771

Of course we all choose our ideological platforms, don’t we … so it doesn’t really matter, this discussion is all just noise. (Bill Maher has a great take on the issue; before Xmas he said “Talk about politics and climate change over your Christmas dinner? Just. Don’t. Go. There.”) You can never convince anyone that their ideological platform is wrong and yours is right. So there.


But pay attention now: There is something that does matter, that is not just noise, and that is really what this blog is about. In the “climate discussion” it is often said the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) falsify records, that there is a “conspiracy” and that - anyway - scientists don’t agree on the details of climate change (see my essay CLIMATE CHANGE DENIALISM). 

Well, in that Real Clear article on Energy, “Climate Doom Ahead? Think Twice!” the claim is made that “… the fact of the matter is there’s good reason for skepticism. Environmentalists have been known to hastily embrace faulty data in the name of a political agenda - and SR-15 is no exception.” Hear hear, now isn't that terrible ... their link takes you to the Washington Post. In that article it says:


“Scientists behind a major study … claimed the Earth’s oceans are warming faster than previously thought …” “Unfortunately, we made mistakes here,” said Ralph Keeling, a climate scientist at Scripps, who was a co-author of the study. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them.”


"The central problem, according to Keeling, came in how the researchers dealt with the uncertainty in their measurements. As a result, the findings suffer from too much doubt to definitively support the paper’s conclusion about how much heat the oceans have absorbed over time.”


Here’s the interesting bit (my emphasis):“The central conclusion of the study - that oceans are retaining ever more energy as more heat is being trapped within Earth’s climate system each year - is in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions. And it hasn’t changed much despite the errors. But Keeling said the authors' miscalculations mean there is a much larger margin of error in the findings, which means researchers can weigh in with less certainty than they thought.”


“I accept responsibility for what happened because it’s my role to make sure that those kind of details got conveyed,” Keeling said. (He has published a more detailed explanation of what happened here.)


Ok, an egregious error of 60,000 vs 13,898 as opposed to an inconsequential error, corrected immediately (and the correction conveniently not reported) but elevated to Without Trump, Climate Grief Could Stampede Us Into Dictatorship”. 

So, who is pushing a political agenda? Who is the demagogue here? 


But the claim that the UN and the IPCC are falsifying records is not a claim to be taken lightly. The fact is, they don’t. To claim they do, is spin ... ‘fake news’. 

The climate scientists - some 3,000 of them, in about 130 countries - simply report to the IPCC; importantly, the reports are then peer-reviewed before they are re-published in a summary-report, like the “Special Report 15” (SR-15). Climate change denialists look ardently for discrepancies, and when they find them blow them out of proportions, to serve their own ends.


What are their ends? Ostensibly they fight “Socialism”.

You see, climate change (CC) is an issue that will not be a huge problem for you and me, if you’re over sixty five and live at least 6m above sea level (the predicted rise by 2100 if nothing is done about CC) and away from bushfires, droughts, floods, cyclones etc. We will be dead and gone when temperatures hit a high that cannot be alleviated by switching on the aircon. But there are millions, hundreds of millions of people who are directly affected by CC as we speak: In Bangladesh, the Pacific Islands etc. 

Oh, before I forget, in the SMH an article by John Church: 

An ocean of evidence on warming is our cue to take action - now:


“Two new studies confirm the world’s oceans are warming. Over 90% of the heat trapped in the climate system by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from our burning of fossil fuels is stored in the oceans. Decisions we make now about greenhouse gas emissions have long-term consequences for the world and Australia’s climate and sea level, and of course for the natural environment and our modern society. We should remember that sea levels were six to nine metres above current levels at a global average temperature about 1C above pre-industrial values.”

John Church is a professor at the Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW

So what’s needed? Amongst many, many other measures we may have to raise our foreign aid from the current 0.22 % of Gross National Income (GNI) to the average of contributions by developed countries of 0.5% (as it was in the 1960s in Australia) (with Switzerland at 0.52%, and - incredibly - Sweden contributing 1.4% of their GNI). The Conversation

However, doing so would probably mean that the top end of town would not get their potential tax-cuts. Hence the conspiracy theories and the denunciation that climate change awareness is socialism in disguise. 


A most fitting closure to this blog, methinks, is a favourite quote from one of the proponents of laissez-faire capitalism and conservative libertarianism, Ayn Rand (while we are poles apart in our life-stance, I open my book with it):


“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”

If I haven't bamboozled you too much and you can handle some more reading ... go to my blogs 941, 942 about The Great Filter, and 943 about The Fourth Filter (careful, though ... your perception of reality may be shaken). And if that's still not enough, here is David Attenborough's input into the issue of that "Climate Grief" ... take it away, Sir David (but then, what would he know?!):


Civilisation may 'collapse' if climate change ignored: Attenborough


Katowice, Poland: Famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough says human civilisation may collapse unless the world takes action to curb climate change.


The British TV presenter of nature documentaries told leaders gathered for a UN climate summit that "right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years."


The 92-year-old added that "if we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."

In this context: Do read the story about The Great Filter.


Savvystreet and Real Clear in their polemic on Energy think articles like this and the "Climate Grief" they cause may be "scary for kids".