Cui bono? • 2 July 2010 • The SnowBlog
I haven't stepped into the mire lately by mentioning man-made climate change. Does it seem the subject has also gone a bit quiet recently in the media? Maybe it's the recent cool summers plus this latest cold winter that did it. Actually, on that subject I loved reading an explanation of why getting your short-term predictions wrong doesn't mean you're wrong about the long-term stuff. Basically you can be wrong about the little tricky things without being wrong about bigger, more obvious stuff. It's all about statistics. Picking which exact days will be hot is tricky, but saying that they're more likely to occur around June, July or August rather than, say, December, January or February is a lot easier. Specifics are weather, overall trends are climate. Several wet summers in a row doesn't mean that the concept of 'summer' has now been disproved.
I've also been reading up a bit on the those who think man-made climate change is a hoax - and the PR campaigns which push that idea. (They call it a 'hoax' because if you call it a 'conspiracy' you sound crazy.) As someone who believes the government routinely lies to us and makes terrible decisions in our name, I have nothing in principle against the idea of a climate hoax. But the idea that low-paid scientists are the bad guys, and the oil companies, energy companies and heavy industry are the innocent victims has me confused. Why would anyone believe that? Around 99% of climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is real and a threat to humanity. Whereas among non-climate-experts scepticism runs at around 50%. If it's a hoax, then who's running it because almost everyone with money or power is on the opposite side. The idea seems to be that by falsifying their conclusions and scaring the rest of us, climate scientists get bigger grants. Whereas, in reality, the opposite is true. The handful of scientists who say man-made climate change doesn't exist tend to find it easy to get sponsorship from private industry think-tanks. For me, it either comes down to the idea that climate scientists are wrong or that they're lying. If they're wrong, then only other climate scientists will know - people like Bjorn Lombord, the 'Skeptical Environmentalist', with his degrees in political science, aren't going to be able to spot the flaws in the mind-bogglingly complex models. And if they're lying then it's a lie that's perpetuated daily by thousands of low-paid researchers all over the world who have all decided to turn every day of their working lives into an elaborate pantomime where they all pretend to be collaborating on research that they're all secretly fabricating. If there's a hoax here, it makes vastly more sense that it's on the other side, with a few oil companies and their allies spreading as much doubt as they can on a question that's already settled by those who know what they're talking about. And in the meantime, governments talk a lot and hope like hell they don't have to do anything yet.