It’s time to clear up your climate change confusion

By Rebeka Ryvola

Our climate is warming at unprecedented rates, but Canadians are not moved to take action. Climate change is causing everything from species extinctions and rising sea levels to ocean acidification and water and food shortages. Yet, we continue to live our lives like nothing is wrong. We are not acknowledging the role we are playing in creating these threats to humankind and the Earth.

The reason for this inaction is a scary one: many Canadians do not believe that current climate change is human-caused. Even the most apparent climate-change impacts are being brushed aside, chalked up to mere natural processes. This way of thinking exists because the fossil-fuel industry has expended huge amounts of money and effort to fabricate the “other side” of the climate-change controversy.

The scientific research behind the climate change is real and indisputable among the world’s experts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leads the way in amassing research done by scientists all around the globe. The reputable IPCC prides itself on processing research and providing an understanding of climate change and how it is altering our Earth. The IPCC is open to all contributions of valid research and yet no research has been presented which refutes that we are rapidly altering our atmosphere.

On the one side of the debate is the IPCC and many other well-intentioned organizations standing for fast action against human-induced climate change. On the flip side, we have various scientists and organizations operating out of fossil-fuel industry pockets. These “climate skeptics” are able to paint a very convincing picture of a scientific disagreement on the causes of climate change. The oil and gas giants have good reasons to be funding massively misleading campaigns of trickery: their money is made extracting and selling harmful fossil fuels. They depend on public consumption of their product. In one case, a fossil fuel-funded “scientific” organization, the Information Council on the Environment, spent $500,000 on a campaign to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”. Climate misinformation campaigns permeate media all around us; newspapers, television, and the Internet all present us with a false two-sided climate debate.

Since most of us are not scientists ourselves, it is difficult to know what exactly we should be asking of the information that comes our way. The idea that the climate skeptics are on a level playing field with peer-reviewed scientific research is ludicrous. The IPCC and the majority of the globe’s scientists devote their life to tireless work that broadens our understanding of the world we live in. The skeptics, deniers, and oil-funded scientists have a shady agenda of deception. When we see how wildly unbalanced the two “sides” are, it becomes obvious that a valid scientific disagreement does not exist.

Now is the first time in history that we can use our technology and intelligence to predict what the future of our Earth will look like—and, without serious change, this future does not look good. The scientific consensus is that we are rapidly sliding down a slippery slope. We have evidence that shows us we need change and we have the technology required to make it. It is time to make critical decisions that will impact all future generations.

You are now aware that climate misinformation campaigns exist. Take it upon yourself to question your sources. Challenge, research, and think critically about all that is presented to you. Once we see past the phony skeptics, we can begin to make lifestyle adjustments. We can start to vote with our dollar, and demand our politicians lead the way. We need to see clearly for each other, for the future, and for all the other living things on Earth that are waiting anxiously for us to determine their fates.

Rebeka Ryvola is a global resource systems undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia who runs an environment and science blog called EnviroSphere for the Ubyssey, UBC’s student newspaper.

Comments (37) Add New Comment
Stryder
Money talks, BS baffles brains, Money & BS convinces fools.
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reality check
You poor, naive little thing! It would appear that you take DeSmugBlug seriously. There are many people with vested interests on both sides of the debate. The oil-interests are well-known, but perhaps more insidious are those who scare well-intentioned people, and make millions on carbon-trading, "green" energy, speaking tours and book sales.
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jk
Rebeka, if you are looking for truth, you have a long way to go.
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Naive
You do a great job of summarizing IPCC and Greenpeace press releases. Maybe you should go do something more than a cursory look at the evidence before launching a me-too blog that does nothing more than appeal to the authority of the IPCC.

Here let me help you out for your next blog topic, explain to us what kind of scientist deletes and loses his raw data?

Or if that's no good, maybe you can tell us how the divergence problem of the tree rings can be accurately explained?

How bout the loss of the chinese weather stations?

Maybe the fact that Nasa has eliminated all the cold weather stations over the last 20 years from the statistics?

Anyway keep up the good work.
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Orkneygal
The overwhelming paleoclimate evidence from around the globe is that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was synchronous, world wide and much warmer than today.

However, the MWP deniers will never admit the existence of the MWP because it means that their religious-like belief in AGW is exposed for the steaming pile of junk science that it truly is.

In total, climate change is complex and not well understood.

But this part is simple.

If the world was warmer when CO2 levels were lower, CO2 cannot be the earth's temperature regulator.

A thousand years ago, the Earth was warmer than it is today; before the social and industrial advances that have made modern people the healthiest and most prosperous in history. MWP deniers want us to believe that plant friendly and life giving CO2 is a bad thing to better advance their meglomanical desire to both boss around the developed world and further impoverish the poor while pocketing a lot of taxpayer money along the way.

Taxing carbon is not the answer to the ever changing climate.There is only one answer to changes in climate that has ever worked for humanity.

That is adaptation.

One of the many links to the overwhelming Paleoclimate evidence of the global nature of the MWP is below.

http://www.co2science.org/data/mwp/mwpp.php
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Harry Braun
The New York Times ran an article about the American Petroleum Institute in April of 1998. It outlines a very specific and detailed plan by oil and gas industry representatives to invest millions of dollars in an effort to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol and discredit the scientific consensus opinion that greenhouse gases are causing the planet to warm.

http://www.euronet.nl/users/e_wesker/ew@shell/API-prop.html

The draft plan, titled “Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan,” concedes that opposition to the protocol is not shared by the public or a vast majority of scientists worldwide. “There has been little, if any, public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by those ”˜inside the Beltway’ with vested interests,” it notes.

Read: Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan

http://harryhammer.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/global-climate-science-commu...
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viga01
It is always interesting to see so many climate deniers jumping on misinformation, personal attacks, as soon as someone post something about climate change.

Environmental groups do write books, reports and organize tours because there are environmental issues. And not there are environmental issues because environmental groups write books... But there is not limit in the logic of climate deniers.

Oil companies make profit extracting oil, which cause green house gases when oil is burned. It is quite logical that to protect their industry and profits, they will try to slow down any regulations.

Who use tree rings to find out about the temperatures? Climate scientists didn't use them neither to prove global warming. They used thermometers since 1880, as far as I know. Some tried to use tree rings them when thermometers data were not recorded. This has nothing to do with the current raise in temperatures. The global warming from the past 100 years is obvious and data are public. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/


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Birdy
The IPCC doesn't actually care about the environment. Leading UN member countries are responsible for massive amounts of intentional climate manipulation, leading the way in weather manipulation and geoengineering.

Google "popular mechanics silver iodide rockets"
Read the CFR document titled "The Geoengineering Option"

Let's say I agree with you Rebeka. Let's say I follow your plan to "take action" by "voting with my dollars" Please tell me, how do my dollars convince the US to shut down HAARP? Also, why do you not speak up about the government's role in screwing with nature? Why do all these alleged environmentalists continue to blame normal citizens for the state of the planet and say it's our responsibility? As if democracy was genuine and we are responsible for the actions of our leaders?

Yes climate change is real, no my light bulbs are not the culprit. Yes we're polluting the earth, but no, taxing me to death and turning the pollution into a tradable derivative won't make it better.
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Morty
Yes, climate change is real. Yes, your light bulbs likely are part of the problem. Want it simple? Each decade for the last several has been, until the next, the hottest in recorded human history. Similarly, atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest in known history. We know from its observed chemical properties that CO2 is a powerful insulator in very small concentrations. We also know that industry and other human activity adds CO2 to the atmosphere in rather large quantities. There will never be a complete smoking gun—nature doesn't work that way—but the anthropogenic explanation for climate change is by far the best in terms of how it fits the available data. That's why the world's scientific community is, outside of a few industry-supported voices, pretty much unanimous in agreeing that climate change is due to human influences.

The fact that you can use Google does not make you more knowledgeable than those who have spent the careers studying the climate, and calling them names in no way diminishes their work. If anything, the vocal opposition to any effort to make our planet more livable shows just how sucessful industry lobbies have been at undermining public understanding of the issue. Forget, for a minute, about climate change; are you telling me it's not worth reducing our consumption of fossil fuels for a myriad of other reasons? If we reduce our consumption of oil we reduce air pollution, which in turn reduces heart and lung disease, which in turn reduces health care costs. We make our cities cleaner, improving our quality of life. We reduce traffic, making it easier to get goods to market. We spur—force—investment in the research and development of new technology. Finally, we extend our domestic reserves of oil and gas, and reduce our dependence on foreign sources, improving our national security. Those are bad things?
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Cassandra22
God, the deniers are so moronic and tiresome. How often can they trot out their medieval warm periods, and their "CO2 is plant food", and their "climate gate", and their blah blah blah? And yes, they are "deniers". True skeptics, including most real scientists, at least demonstrate some intellectual integrity. These people are for the most part demonstrable liars or pitiful nitwits.
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Jeff M
Gotta love the denialist responses on here. The same responses from people who seem unaware of things such as measured inward and outbound radiation levels decreasing at specific wavelengths associated with CO2, which has increased from roughly 270ppm to 380ppm over the past two centuries as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels, and methane, which has increased 130% over the past century due mainly to animal farming. Instead they believe in some ultra left-wing conspiracy perpetrated by Al Gore, who I might add was not even alive int he late 1800s when the greenhouse effect, greenhouse gasses, and greater radiative trapping due to increased concentration was theorized, and believe in a world-wide conspiracy brought on by scientists. You're disregarding the epistimilogical evidence and instead looking at conspiracy theories because you don't agree with the politics.
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Mike123456789
I see the green activists are out in force today.

Perhaps one of them could show some evidence to back up the ludicrous claim made in the article that food has been negatively affected by global warming. Overall, yields continue to go UP not down.

Please note - scientific facts about what HAS happened, not vague threats about what *might* happen.
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Honesty amongst deniers
I think climate change deniers need fess up to something: the reason they deny climate change has nothing to do with their opposition to the science of global warming. 99.98% of climate change deniers, much like 99.97% of the believers, don't know jack about the science. None of them are climate scientists!

It's got to do with lifestyle. If everyone, 100% of the world's population, acknowledged that our CO2 emissions would soon cause the oceans to rise and wreck our society, we would see some pretty drastic changes. No more cheap coal power, no more cheap gas-burning cars, no more dirty bunker fuel on intercontinental shipping, and less beef on our dinner plates. If we dropped fossil fuels tomorrow, our standard of living would decrease, no questions about it. The deniers don't want this, so they grasp at straws and cloud the issue, like any good politician would.

What lends steam to the deniers is the fact that the CC crowd doesn't address the problem of lifestyle change well. Green jobs revolution? What a load of bollocks, if it was going to be profitable on its own, it would have happened already. Carbon credits? Never has a more manipulable and flimsy regulatory scheme been fed to us. It's just another form of worthless credit like derivatives, ABCP, and GM stock that will eventually collapse and bankrupt people. Carbon taxes? As if the politicians know any better than we do how fight climate change with more money.

I don't deny that climate change is happening, or that humans are contributing. But for all the CC'ers out there that DON'T have answers better than the above drivel...

"F*** off, I got work to do."
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Will
"Our climate is warming at unprecedented rates"-- this is simply not true. The warming (up to the late 1990s) may be unprecendented in the context of the past 100 years.

There seem to be a lot of 'unprecendented' events these days that seem to have been inconveniently precendented. I direct you to this:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/03/16/you-ask-i-provide-november-2nd-192...

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Janie Jones
Hmm I wonder how it is that Al Gore Jr can stand to have financed his million dollar lifestyle off of the Occidental Petroleum shares earned by Al Gore Sr for acting as a political frontman for Soviet agent Armand Hammer and his Caucasus oil concessions i.e. oil stolen from the Russian people. Just to make sure this "communist" tradition continued, Al Jr jetted off to Moscow during Yeltsin's corruption-fuel almost fall from power in the 1990s to make sure the Russian people's oil continued to line the pockets of the western bank funded "oligarchs" so much so that when Mikhail Khodorkhovsky was convicted of the various sleazy crimes that enabled a $1 billion misappropriation of funds, his shares in Yukos oil automatically reverted to London based, Jacob Rothschild.

See: Arrested tycoon passes his shares to Jacob Rothschild
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/nov/02/20031102-111400-3720r
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Al O'Vyr
It never ceases to shock me how many people who have nothing to say, say it anyway; condescendingly, often with vitriol. Why they do it? For many low reasons, however "Honesty..." has got some good points about the "lifestyle", but then leaves the arena...

The article irritated the deniers not as much with the climate change argument as with the challenge to act. Not by the scientists, not by the politicians, but by us. Oh My God! Only over my fried body!
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PT Barnum
Part of the problem with Canadians, is that we are being asked to change for the good of planet earth and our fellow human beings.
I read very little concerning the impact on Canada's land, air and water. As things stand this country may be poised to luck out once again, at least in the short to medium future. Some even suggest Canada will be a net beneficiary of climate change as new land in the north is opened up by rising temperatures.
It's hard to sell lifestyle change given the lack of clear danger on Canadian soil.
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balance
Rebeka, you could start learning some balance by following your own advice: "Challenge, research, and think critically about all that is presented to you." Then the world won't seem so black and white, and you will be able to develop more rational arguments.
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Evian
Good point Barnum. I think the only effective way of addressing the issue of how climate change might directly benefit Canada, is from an enlightened self-interest perspective. Although Canada might do well, if there is massive drought, spread of disease, etc, given the interconnectedness of the world (trade system, transmissible diseases, long range weapons etc), we are certainly not immune from bad effects elsewhere. Not to mention a lot of nations will be desperate for our fresh water when they get thirsty. Just some things to think about.

As for the deniers, I don't think this article was trying to give you the scientific evidence (for example explaining the tree rings), but more asking you to be a bit more critical of your sources. As pointed out by many commenters, the scientists have a bit more of an understanding than most of the right wing 'think tanks' where a lot of this info is coming from.

A great starting point for understanding the deniers 'science', and why it is misguided, is at www.skepticalscience.com ...again, only a starting point. make sure to review the sources :)

Evian
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Will
Evian (et al), the 'deniers' have every right to comment on an article such as this. It makes broad sweeping statements of fact that are simply not true.

While some may be content to 'act now' in a knee-jerk manner with a) other peoples money b) other peoples business, and c) the very structure of governance, some of us would prefer to sit down and put the situation under a microsope before jumping to drastic conclusions.

Ms. Ryvola polarizes the issue, claiming that anyone with a disenting opinion must be in the pockets of 'big oil', and that the those who support her position on AGW are 'indisputable'. How much room does that create for an open dialog?

Climate science is a relatively new field. Given it's interdisciplinary nature, wouldn't you agree that experts in various fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics, should have the opportunity to review these claims?

If you agree that the conclusions need to be vigorusly reviewed by domain specific experts (and not just climate scientists), then you should also agree that this is not the time to jump to drastic action, name calling ('denier') or to make broad sweeping claims of 'settled science'.
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