David Suzuki: Deniers are all over the map; climate realists all over the world

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      A little over a year ago, I wrote about a Heartland Institute conference in Las Vegas where climate change deniers engaged in a failed attempt to poke holes in the massive body of scientific evidence for human-caused climate change. I quoted Bloomberg News: “Heartland's strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.” 

      A recent study came to a similar conclusion about contrarian “scientific” efforts to do the same. “Learning from mistakes in climate research,” published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology, examined some of the tiny percentage of scientific papers that reject anthropogenic climate change, attempting to replicate their results. 

      In a Guardian article, co-author Dana Nuccitelli said their study found “no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming.” Instead, “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on.” 

      Nuccitelli and fellow researchers Rasmus Benestad, Stephan Lewandowsky, Katharine Hayhoe, Hans Olav Hygen, Rob van Dorland, and John Cook note that about 97 percent of experts worldwide agree on a cohesive, science-based theory of global warming, but those who don’t “are all over the map, even contradicting each other. The one thing they seem to have in common is methodological flaws like cherry picking, curve fitting, ignoring inconvenient data, and disregarding known physics.” 

      It’s astounding and tragic that, with all the evidence—from volumes of scientific research to the very real effects we are experiencing everywhere—some people stubbornly refuse to believe there’s a problem worth addressing. Sadder still: many of them are political leaders. 

      Part of the problem is that fossil fuel interests spend enormous amounts of money to sow doubt and confusion, often by funding or setting up organizations like the Heartland Institute in the U.S., the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the U.K., Ethical Oil and Friends of Science in Canada, and the International Climate Science Coalition, based in this country but affiliated with similar organizations in Australia and New Zealand and with close ties to Heartland. A number of industry-funded websites also promote fossil fuels at the expense of human life, including Climate Depot and Watts Up With That?

      These secretive organizations rarely reveal funding sources, prey on the uninformed and ignorant, and blanket the media with opinion articles, letters to editors, and comments, often referring to misleading charts and graphs and bogus “studies” from organizations with names that imply they’re scientific when they’re anything but. They’re assisted by a compliant news media and politicians who also receive fossil fuel industry funding.

      It’s likely the people behind these organizations know they’re lying but care more about making money and preserving the lopsided benefits of a polluting sunset industry than finding ways to contribute to human health, well-being, and survival. 

      Those who argue that seven billion people pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere aren’t having a serious negative impact are out to lunch.

      Fortunately, most thinking people don’t buy the lies. People from all sectors and walks of life—religious, academic, business, political, activist, social justice, and citizenry—are calling for an urgent response to the greatest threat humanity faces.

      From Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama to Islamic scholars and Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish leaders; from Volvo, Ikea, and Apple to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Health Organization; from every legitimate scientific academy and institution to enlightened political leaders—all have warned about the serious nature of global warming and the urgent need to do something about it.

      Polls, marches, demonstrations, and citizen initiatives show that people want action. Yet, despite this tremendous recognition of the reality of our situation, governments have failed to come up with a legally binding, ambitious and universal climate agreement, thanks in part to efforts by countries like Canada, Japan, and Australia to stall or water down agreements at economic summits and UN climate conferences. 

      As world leaders prepare for the December UN climate meeting in Paris, Canadians must impress upon all those who hope to govern us after October 19 the importance of making a positive contribution. As voters, we have the power to make a difference in this critical conversation. Let’s exercise it.

      Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

      Comments

      10 Comments

      richard tomkins

      Sep 1, 2015 at 7:04pm

      we need to elect responsible politicians. politicians that understand that government's principle responsibility is to the people, whose interests is what responsible government is supposed to protect. the environment is the peoples interest.

      Veijo

      Sep 1, 2015 at 7:18pm

      No mention of the geo-engineering going on. Talk about denial.

      Alberta Bound

      Sep 1, 2015 at 9:13pm

      Can anybody direct me to a credible plan to arrest anthropogenic climate change while preserving our quality of life and domestic security? It seems articles like this criticize big oil and their alleged political puppets but never offer an actual solution. Thanks.

      A.G. Browne

      Sep 1, 2015 at 9:18pm

      David "do-nothing but talk" Suzuki. I work in the oil industry. I believe in the climate change caused by human beings. I see the end of oil at the end of this century or a little past 2100. . What is the path that humans are to follow to move away from oi? Please stop whining in the press, and present a concrete solution to move the world away from carbon fuels. My personal belief is the "end of oli" is closer then we are being told. If the do-nothing whiners fail to create an alternative, then they are going to have a front row seat to a mass extinction of the human species in less then 150 years.
      And the climate will "self-correct: after the human population is reduced by billions.
      As for the "Paris" talk this month, nothing will come of it, because of natural human self-need and greed.

      DISGUSTED with Dave ..

      Sep 2, 2015 at 11:08am

      Yes Dave it's an oil conspiracy. .good to see you aren't a conspiracy denier. I mean it's just EVERYWHERE right?

      And they DENY the peer reviewed overwhelming evidence . Phht. Imagine reading Journal of Applied Climatology over The Guardian.

      It's a crime. Maybe even a thought crime?

      Tom Harris-ICSC

      Sep 2, 2015 at 11:10am

      It is rather ironic that David Suzuki should accuse his opponents of being "secretive organizations [that] rarely reveal funding sources" when:

      According to its 2009 annual report at http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2009/DSF_AR-08-09.pdf, the David Suzuki Foundation received $1 million + from "Anonymous."

      According to its 2010 annual report at http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2010/annual-report%200..., the David Suzuki Foundation received between $10,000-$99,999 (exact amount not listed) from 87215 Canada Ltd.

      Should those granted non - profit charitable status (like the David Suzuki Foundation) be required to provide full disclosure of donors and donations?

      Ian Hanington, DSF

      Sep 2, 2015 at 11:28am

      The David Suzuki Foundation lists all donors who wish to be named, and has an Ethical Gift Acceptance policy, which Tom Harris knows about. The climate change denial organizations with which Tom Harris is associated do not reveal any funding information.

      For anyone who still cares about who Harris and those organizations are, here's some well-researched info:
      http://www.desmogblog.com/tom-harris
      http://scholarsandrogues.com/2015/02/17/tom-harris-recent-commentaries-r...
      http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/12/1384339/-Facing-the-Facts-and-F...

      Ian Hanington
      The David Suzuki Foundation

      Tom Harris-ICSC

      Sep 2, 2015 at 4:15pm

      Ian Hanington, of The David Suzuki Foundation, you did not answer my question, which was:

      "Should those granted non - profit charitable status (like the David Suzuki Foundation [but not ours]) be required to provide full disclosure of donors and donations?"

      Why is your million dollar plus donor confidential? David does not seem to approve of this approach when he writes above: "These secretive organizations rarely reveal funding sources." Why does he criticize us for not revealing our donors' identities but then the DSF does the same with such a massive donor, at least 1/7 of your whole budget?

      Ian Hanington, DSF

      Sep 2, 2015 at 4:56pm

      The David Suzuki Foundation is open and transparent about the funding it receives and the types of donations it will and won't accept, and publishes this information on its website as a matter of policy, unless a donor specifically asks to remain anonymous. (A donation reported in one year can be one that is given over a course of time, so to say that it is 1/7 of the budget is nonsense.)

      The organizations with which Tom Harris is associated do not reveal any funding sources, probably because, as a Greenpeace investigation found out, many are related to fossil fuel interests. I find it interesting but not surprising or unusual that Harris, who has written columns calling for more rational discourse, seizes on such a meaningless point while ignoring the substance of the article.

      Donald Rennie

      Sep 4, 2015 at 9:28pm

      Alberta Bound; Here you go. I assume improving (as opposed to preserving) our quality of life is ok?
      https://vimeo.com/136099108