How NOT to make an effective argument for climate change theory
“Another Ice Age?” trumpeted a headline in the June 24, 1974 edition of TIME magazine.
This headline might seem to undermine the credibility of TIME’s April 8, 2007 issue, whose cover boasted “The Global Warming Survival Guide: 51 things you can do to make a difference” and its April 3, 2006 issue, whose cover admonished “Special Report – Global Warming: Be Worried. Very Worried.” The latter depicted a seemingly hapless polar bear on a lone floating mass of ice.
As recently as 2015, the Washington Post reported “Records smashed on East Coast’s warmest ever Christmas Eve,” evidently ignoring a much hotter Christmas in 1955 across the entire United States.
Many scientists and politicians have followed suit, making claims regarding the geological future. Notable green party politician Al Gore reported in 2008 that “there is a seventy-five percent chance that the entire north polar icecap… could be completely ice free within the next five to seven years (2013-2015).” (Perhaps the failure of this ominous prediction can be attributed to our president, who claimed his 2008 presidential nomination was “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”)
Throughout the 1970s, scientists experienced difficulty determining whether the globe was in fact warming or cooling. Thanks to brilliant present-day advancements, we have found a solution: the climate is neither solely “warming” nor “cooling,” but simply “changing.” And even better: regardless of the magnitude, quality, or time period, any change in the weather proves the accepted anthropogenic greenhouse gas theory and necessitates often nonsensical political and economic reform to correct. Surely, the planet does not undergo harmless, natural climate cycles regardless of human action.
Admittedly, there is good evidence both for and against anthropogenic climate change theory. But, not unlike hegemonic theories of the past since proven incorrect, climate change is touted as absolute by activists in order to stifle all dissent. Additionally, the alarmingly unscientific manipulation of evidence to fit the theory is nothing short of an affront to the scientific method.
This magnitude of scientific, political, and cultural embrace of a theory is nothing novel to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Classical Greece during the fifth and fourth centuries BCE (though a scientific golden age whose discoveries still influence science) produced one of the longest-reigning incorrect theories of all time. Aristotle’s scientific conjectures divided materials into five classical elements, each tending towards a natural place in the universe, and thereby classified the universe as geocentric.
Whereas Aristotle’s false model of physics was accepted almost universally by ancient Greeks, rival theories that more accurately reflected modern science were refuted. Democritus devised a precursor to atomic theory, and Aristarchus of Samos hypothesized that the earth orbited the sun. Both were rejected by their peers and the public since they disagreed with Aristotle.
Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as the reigning scientific authority, the Catholic Church upheld Aristotle’s beliefs, albeit supplementing them with biblical teaching. Church scientists who demonstrated proof thereof were lauded. Thinkers who diverged, such as Galileo, were forced into silence by popular ridicule and threats of capital punishment.
Even more recently, during the scientific enlightenment in Europe in the 1700s and 1800s, the vast majority of respected European scientists vehemently rejected that meteorites were of extraterrestrial origin. When some scientists disagreed based on careful analyses of meteorites’ chemical compositions and eyewitness accounts of meteor showers, the scientific community’s response ranged from thickheaded resistance to blatant mockery. This persisted even when meteorites showered all over Europe out of clear blue skies.
All these unfortunate events in scientific history should render one wary when proponents of anthropogenic climate change present the very fact that the majority of scientists agree as evidence in support of that theory.
As for those experts who do agree with present climate change theory (a majority, if we are to trust proponents), their compliance must be at least somewhat impacted by the bias of their field. In order to become an expert, one must first be instructed by professors who likely already subscribe to the theory, agreeing with those professors enough to obtain passing grades in their classes. Anyone harboring any contrary beliefs must keep them to himself, lest he have his sanity and intelligence called into question in addition to his qualifications. Even in a discipline that champions reason and logic, anthropogenic climate change skeptics have time and again encountered public ridicule rather than rational debate.
Moreover, the actual percentage of scientists who agree with climate change theory has been vastly exaggerated, possibly even falsified. Alarmist media frequently misreports that 97% (or more) of scientists believe climate change is human caused. But according to the survey in question, 97% agreed that the earth’s temperature has increased over a period of 100 years (an arguably objective measurement), whereas only 74% believed that global warming is human-caused and that scientific evidence could prove this claim, and fewer than half believed the effects of climate change would prove in any way catastrophic even up to a century from now. Furthermore, a Forbes magazine report claims the statistics altogether are the result of media “doctoring,” attributing them to a “misclassifying” of the research of prominent scientists who are global warming skeptics while “deliberately present[ing] a meaningless survey question” to skew the results.
So, not only are proponents utilizing perceived consensus to further induce consensus, but the consensus isn’t even as great as presented thanks to dishonest practices.
Scientific data purported to prove climate change theory has likewise been pursued and presented in a dishonest fashion, sometimes faked entirely. In 2010, one thousand scientists worldwide challenged the commonly accepted UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (an organization whose aim is to influence policy-makers) following a scandal involving the manipulation of scientific data and suppression of critics. The well-known “hockey stick” graph, frequently touted as undeniable evidence of global warming, was ultimately found to be the result of faulty mathematical and computer modeling. Forbes reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations regularly “correct” past and present temperature data to produce a warming trend. Although raw temperature data published by NASA in 1999 show a cooling trend since the 1930s, the same data has since been altered to show warming.
Watch Australian climate specialists discuss the apparent “climate change consensus” here:
Proponents have been quick to report loss of arctic ice as clear evidence of global warming, all the while ignoring or dismissing the Antarctic sea ice, which reached a new record maximum in 2014 according to NASA. A ship full of global warming researchers expecting a melted Antarctic ironically became stuck in the growing ice in 2014 while such media outlets as the Associated Press at first conveniently failed to mention their mission. Environmentalists worldwide were quick to claim that 2014 was the hottest year on record, but these data were based on inaccurate surface temperature readings and in fact 2014 was far from the hottest year on record according to satellite data. As is seldom reported by scientists or the media, between 2002 and 2014 global temperature increase was statistically insignificant.
Alarmists have portrayed the plight of wildlife due to global warming as inevitable, but reality has shown otherwise. When moose population began to decline in 2013, the New York Times rushed to blame climate change without taking into account the effect of the growing wolf population, which turned out to be the actual cause. (The moose population has subsequently recovered.) And, fortunately for TIME’s emblematic stranded polar bear, the polar bear population has actually rebounded healthily. This fact is rarely mentioned by climate scientists who not long ago spoke of global warming-induced endangerment.
The dishonest and frankly unscientific handling of statistics and data should undermine the validity of the theory. Unabashed misrepresentation of statistics, rampant manipulation and concealment of scientific data, and ridicule of naysayers to defend the theory at any cost indicates a myopic emotional (almost religious) devotion to the theory and echoes the grave mistakes of the past. Emotional attachment is essentially unscientific and ought to be tempered to prevent the silencing of such scientific minds as Galileo.
Ultimately, climate change theory is just a theory; and scientists, despite their education, are capable of making mistakes. As the past has shown, general scientific consensus is certainly capable of being wrong.