High profile scientist resigns over climate change
This kind of headline is appearing in the news with alarming frequency these days. I say “alarming” because I think it should trigger an alarm: This is not news. This is propaganda. It is the equivalent of war-time misinformation designed to demoralise the enemy (I am trying hard not to mention those German people and/or their leader who were prominent in the 1930s). And remember, this is not conspiracy theory, this is conspiracy fact. See http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/index.html.
So, if anyone wants to take me up on this, I would gladly bet my house on the fact that for every one with links to denialist organisations that resigns; there are 10 others better-qualified without such links that do not resign.
Climate science is without doubt complicated; but it is not impossible to understand. However, most people do not have the time or inclination to try and understand it, they just rely on others to tell them what the truth is; and therein lies the problem – Who is it that most people rely on?
To be sure, it is not the scientists. It is more likely to be self-appointed non-scientists in the media (also known as journalists). I think I have previously made my position clear regarding newspaper journalists, so let’s not go there today! Let us consider instead the television and radio coverage that climate change gets: Let’s be honest, TV and radio news is not about information; it is about entertainment. Some man in a white coat telling you what he knows makes people switch-off (quite literally). No, what keeps people entertained is two people in the studio, or on a satellite link, having a blazing row. This is the problem with the news media; they do not care about the truth or even very strong probabilities; they just like arguments – even totally artificial ones.
But, at the risk of alienating all those that read this, it is a well known fact that most people think they are a better-than-average car driver. This is statistically impossible. Similarly, most people think they are actually quite good at interpreting information and making good decisions. This too is unlikely. Unfortunately, ignorance is like a sexually transmitted disease; no-one likes to admit they are afflicted by it, but it probably affects more people than you think. You may even have it and not realise. In fact, so could I…
How can we find out if we have got it or not? How can we make sense of all these conflicting truth claims? Well, if you are really serious in your quest, you must be prepared to set aside everything you have ever heard or thought about the subject before and, instead, decide what the truth is based solely on the evidence. It is a bit like being sworn-in as member of the jury in a murder trial of someone famous (but no-one in particular!). What do you think you would decide then? If you are unsure, read this.
At the end of the day, the jury is not “out” on climate science; and we are way, way beyond the point of having reasonable doubt. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying desperately hard to put off the day when their irresponsible – if not morally reprehensible – strategy of asset-stripping the entire planet is actually, finally, called into question.
In fact, it all makes me wonder whether there is not somewhere a secret timetable of pre-arranged resignations planned by significant-sounding scientists who will then have their retirement income boosted by one or other of the Conservative Think Tanks (CTTs) that are behind just about every single climate change sceptic you have ever heard of (and many more that you have not). Furthermore, behind all these CTTs stands the Atlas Network (formerly known as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation). This is an organisation founded in 1981, whose purpose was once defined by John Blundell (a former Director-General of the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs) as being “to litter the world with free-market think tanks“. However, what he and all other libertarian economists seem to want to deny is that free-market economics are no longer appropriate in a resource-constrained, finite, and over-populated planet. Growth is not the answer. Growth is our ultimate problem.
Quite literally, we cannot go on like this (not for very much longer anyway). As part of this global ecosystem in which we find ourselves, we must learn to live within its means; and its means are not infinite: Its capacity to assimilate waste is dependent upon the rate at which we produce that waste; and carbon dioxide is our biggest waste product. Furthermore, no matter what anyone says, if we pump that waste into the atmosphere faster than it (or the oceans) can use it, or otherwise assimilate it, then it becomes a pollutant. End of story.
It’s time we dealt with it.