As our regular readers and viewers know, we do not believe in conspiracy theories. And yes, some call us “naïve” for believing that dangerous zealots are dangerous merely because they are zealots. To repeat, when people say things you disagree with and do things you disagree with, it’s because they think things you disagree with. But our position admittedly gets harder to defend when a social media platform not only slaps a finger-wagging warning across our material (“Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, mainly caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels”) but also attributes this propaganda to the United Nations. Still, we must point out that if it were a plot, they’d certainly leave off the last bit.
We bring it up because of a Yahoo! News story from Agence France-Press that starts “A British television interview viewed tens of thousands of times on social media features a man claiming that global warming is natural, CO2 has no provable effect on the climate, the greenhouse effect is negligible, and computer models used to measure climate change are skewed. But the speaker is not a climate specialist, experts say the claims are false, and world scientists overwhelmingly agree that humans are heating the planet by burning fossil fuels.” (The author, predictably, “is not a climate specialist” himself, holding a PG Diploma in Journalism from City University and a Master’s Degree in Literae Humaniores (Classics) from Oxford, which doesn’t impair his confidence in his climate science fact-checking chops. Whereas the guy he’s dissing studied physics.) Whereupon the piece waves Mann’s hockey stick without alerting the audience to any controversy regarding that artefact.
In our view it would be helpful if both sides refrained from dark hints that their adversaries are up to something dishonest and sinister. The best way to refute wrong statements, whatever their origin, is to expose them to the sunlight of open debate. And we certainly do not regard the discussion as a race to the bottom in which, if those who disagree with us pin ugly labels on us and say we are paid liars, we seize the excuse to do the same. But in any case we feel that if global warming alarmists were in some gigantic plot involving the WEF and the UN, one as cunning as it was sinister, they almost certainly would not wave the pale blue banner in such a conspicuous manner. Dan Brown’s villains never do that kind of stuff.
Congrats John! The finger-wagging warning banner means you have arrived. You’re being noticed. Keep up the good work.
These banners are becoming really useful. They help me spot the stuff that might be worth reading. In literature, the books banned by authorities are usually the ones most worth reading. So yeah, these banners are now like a badge of honour.
"The best way to refute wrong statements, whatever their origin, is to expose them to the sunlight of open debate."
Indeed, but such presupposes that those who one seeks to engage in debate have some understanding of the issues involved, will play with a straight bat and have the courtesy to acknowledge differing points of view. How, for example, does one debate with someone who believes the world will end in 70 years, based on wildlife habitat modelling carried out in the 80s and 90s?
"I first learned about climate change in 1985 when the organisation I worked for ran computer models to predict the future of wildlife habitats. I've known, since then, that the point of no return was 1995 and had to live with the knowledge that all humanity, plant and animal life, was facing inevitable extinction. However, in the last five years, things have moved faster than predicted, and I now review my estimate from 90 years for extinction to around 70. Everything fades into insignificance in comparison."
I remain the denier to her mind even though she steadfastly refuses to acknowledge modern research and understanding. Credit where it's due, though, unlike someone else (who goes by the gloriously ironic title of "Study the facts"), she did at least fall short of demanding I be cancelled:
"I have reported your illiterate rants to the editor. You do not deserve the column space in any public newspaper. Meanwhile, the public should stick to the science and study the facts via NASA's excellent coverage and the Meteorological Experts at the UK Met Office."
My 'crime', in this instance, was to offer a view on the fundamental importance of atmospheric water vapour. I think of this being completely uncontroversial and even cited Tyndall and H.H. Lamb on the issue, which I mention in my reply:
"It's hardly illiterate to quote H.H. Lamb and cite John Tyndall's appreciation that atmospheric water vapour is as fundamental to life on Earth as liquid water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and the Sun. Neither is it a rant to challenge what I see as ridiculous and unsubstantiated comments. What I don't do, though, regardless of the insults and brickbats thrown in my direction, is run to the editor and demand that those who disagree with me be silenced because I don't happen to like what they say.
"You demand people "Study the Facts", which is no more than what I ask people to do. It seems, however, we differ in that you believe the output from the likes of NASA and the UK Met Office is sufficient to understand the climate debate, whereas I don't - the issue of HITRAN being a prime example. Now widely recognised as one of the finest tools for understanding what's happening within the atmosphere today, why does the IPCC not use it?
"It's not a crime to look deeper into the climate question than you do. Nor is it a crime to question the anomalies and inconsistencies I find. You don't have to read what I write, but if you do and you disagree with what I say, challenge it. I would, however, expect a rational argument from someone who professes to 'Study the facts'".
I've not received a reply.