Move On dot Climate Skeptics

Michael H. Glantz
1 October
2007

Move On dot Climate Skeptics

 

There is a tsunami-like rush to get on the climate change bandwagon. It seems that everyone and his mother is clamoring to be associated with or touting himself or herself as an expert. I am not sure why. It is likely a combination of factors. Was it the comments in the media by NASA scientist James Hansen about how global warming is human-induced and that the Bush Administration had tried to silence him on several occasions? His story as a scientific David taking on the global-warming-skeptic Giant (President Bush) has been told in print and on the nightly TV newscasts.

Then again, maybe it was Al Gore's global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Despite some challenges by a handful of skeptics in America to Gore's use of some scientific facts, the movie was an international success. I personally have seen and heard of instant conversions in different countries in the belief of the human contribution to global warming from “non-believer" to "convinced." Clearly, the documentary has had a profound impact on many people (though, I must confess, I did nod off a few times).

 

And then we must consider what the impact has been of the findings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fourth Assessment (April 2007). This assessment asserts that there is a high probability that human activities are responsible for enhancing the naturally occurring greenhouse effect.

Whatever was the true catalyst for the sea change in the belief that humans are heating up the atmosphere and that the Earth is in Peril (the title of a CNN documentary special), people, governments, and regional organizations are now ready to march in lock step to address head-on the problem of global warming.

They have come to realize that climate change is not just another ordinary environmental problem confronting them, such as is urban air pollution, acid rain, soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, or mangrove destruction. Global Warming is in a category of its own. It is the mother of all environmental problems confronting civilizations today. Though not all countries or civilizations have contributed to it equally, all are sure to feel its effects.

The skeptics, however, have not given up, or at least they will not say so publicly. They publish books attacking global warming proponents, with such titles as “The Satanic Gases” and “Skeptical Environmentalist.” However, in the world of publishing scientific journals, especially in Science or in Nature, the skeptics have not produced papers that have passed peer review. There are occasional cries from the skeptics about how they cannot get their papers published in liberal journals.

It is interesting to watch the informal skeptic coalition come apart, holdouts notwithstanding: BP defected a while ago; Toyota too, followed by many other industries and corporations, and among the most recent defections (at least in words) is the arch-enemy of the global warming yea-sayers, Exxon (headline):

January 12, 2007
ExxonMobil Cuts Support for Skeptics

And now articles are appearing from skeptics who have changed their minds in favor of the idea that human activities are responsible for much of the global warming witnessed in the past century. One former environmental skeptic wrote,

Politics polluted the science and made me an environmental skeptic. Nevertheless, data trumps politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming (M. Shermer, “The Flipping Point,” ScientificAmerican.com, May 22, 2006).

You know, there are probably still in existence somewhere on the globe people who believe that the Earth is flat, that the Antarctic ozone hole is a good thing because it will let out all the hot air from global warming (this was an actual response in an environmental questionnaire), or that there was no Holocaust during World War II. So, how much more effort needs to be expended by the believers in global warming to convince non-believers and their followers?

My belief is that success in converting nay-sayers into yea-sayers is no longer worth the effort. Scientific data is overwhelmingly on the side of the yea-sayers, and with each observation and report about changes in a wide range of sensitive ecosystems, it is increasingly so … period!

It is now up to the skeptics who are beginning to waiver to keep an open mind as they peruse the numerous incoming observations and reports on global warming. It is time to move on from over-focusing on scientific uncertainties and refocusing on scientific certainties. Human-induced global warming can no longer be viewed analogously as a glass of water half-full and half-empty. A preponderance of evidence suggests that the liquid in the proverbial glass favoring human-induced warming is well above the 50 percent mark, while the unfilled portion of the glass is now well below 50 percent.

Time seems to have run out on the skeptics' ability to forestall action to combat global warming, as well as defections from its ranks by those who do not want to take the risks associated with global warming “business-as-usual" scenario. Move on, skeptics. Move on.

 

  --Michael H. Glantz

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