40 Reasons the Scare is Exaggerated

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As promised/threatened, here is Denierland’s list of 40 reasons that the climate „emergency” is overstated. The list is a little incoherent, for which I apologise. It came from a brainstorming session on the back of an envelope (it might have been a pre-used piece of A4 paper). The items include both evidence that the scare is exaggerated and the psychological drivers for willing exaggeration on the part of humans. Like I said, incoherent, and in no particular order. There is some overlap between some entries. I have made no edits at all; I don’t see anything here that doesn’t hold up a couple of years after it was written. I could have added links to relevant Cliscep posts for many items in the list and may do so at some point.

1. Misappropriation. Have a flood or a storm? This is definitely evidence of climate change and would not have happened if humans had not increased the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. Thus, bad things are the fault of climate change, while good things happen in spite of it. In the old days, catastrophic storms were an act of God. Now they are caused by climate change.
2. Your hockey stick is too straight. There are no breakpoints or inflections in relevant data like sea level rise or global temperature rises to suggest that the rate of change is accelerating. Gradual warming does not scare anyone, nor does gradual sea level rise. [Caveat: breakpoints might occur in the future.]
3. Neutral change. There will always be winners and losers. The operative word is “change”, i.e. we are talking about climate change, not climate deterioration. Indeed the phrase “climate deterioration” is used to indicate cooling, not warming. There are likely to be more winners than losers from global warming (both in human terms and biodiversity terms), up to a point, beyond which there will be net harm. The question is, will we ever reach beyond the net benefit stage? (See also 30.)
4. Life is too easy. Because wealthy nations have far fewer problems to deal with than poorer nations, they can afford to fixate on a relatively minor issue that has risen to the top of the agenda as more important things have been dealt with.
5. Blame parasitism (related to 1). Officials are naturally drawn to blaming climate change for their failings, because if problems are beyond their control, their public will not blame them when things go wrong. However, the real problem is generally local in nature.
6. Commercial rent seekers. Individuals and companies benefit from global warming hype if they can provide services that are otherwise superfluous. Examples are most of the renewable energy systems from wind turbines to anaerobic digesters to solar farms. The profit of such rent seekers comes at the public’s expense.
7. Blatant corruption. Bigging up the climate change scare enables a wild west of corrupt practices to flourish, going far beyond 6, above. Examples are the sale of carbon offsets, the modern equivalent of indulgences for venal sins, Spanish solar panels running at night (diesel generators pretending to be solar panels to collect the over-generous subsidies) and the “cash for ash” scheme which paid a fee for “green” fuel burnt that was greater than the cost of the fuel. (Update: the recent report into “cash for ash” says there was no corruption, it was all down to incompetence. So that’s ok.)
8. Seek and ye shall find. Scientists will find effects if they look hard enough. Nevertheless the strength of these effects often wanes when replication efforts take place. It is also the case that effects demonstrated in controlled conditions often do not materialise “in the wild.”
9. Compliant media. Media organisations hunt for every scare story to generate more clicks. Furthermore, correspondents are seemingly unwilling or unable to objectively assess the evidence they have before them.
10. Cyber deference. There is an overoptimistic faith in the output of silicon representations of the real world. In many cases computer projections are more policy relevant than simply looking at what has happened so far and assuming that it will continue. (cf. 2.)
11. Narrative of decline. We have never had it so good, but believe that we are on course for a progressive worsening of social and environmental conditions. Any evidence of this relies on inflections in the data (cf. 2).
12. Enter the memeplex. The strength and appeal of a collection of beliefs has no correlation to its truthiness. Most people believe in the supernatural whether that be deities, ghosts, magic crystals, homeopathy or whatever. Such people are in no place to give lectures to climate sceptics. There are cultural enforcement mechanisms that mean that very sensible comments made by climate sceptics either fall on deaf ears or meet with an emotional response. We do not judge opinions by their content, but by who makes them and whether they agree with our prejudices. [Obviously, climate sceptics are as vulnerable to this as anyone else.]
13. Fear of change that has no threat. We are afraid when we are told that the glaciers are retreating. How would we feel if the glaciers were advancing? So far, with more than a hundred years of progressive industrialisation, and consequent “global heating”, we are 1 K warmer than before.
14. Child prophets. No doubt an innocent child with a stern message “How dare you!” for the corrupt/lazy/weak politicians that run the show these days garners a lot of attention for the cause, but someone charismatic loudly calling for something is no evidence that it needs to be done.
15. The ratchet. Each story builds on the last so that things are always “worse than we thought.” (cf. 9.)
16. Aligned aims. There are those whose political aims will be furthered by action against climate change, including in areas that have nothing at all to do with climate change. Action on climate change has been linked to equality, for example, because it is alleged that the poor will suffer most from its consequences.
17. National rent seeking. Undeveloped countries think that hyping up climate change will lead to guilt-ridden but wealthy Western countries sending them sacks of money, for example small island states pretending that sea level rise is going to wipe them off the globe. (When coral growth can keep up with the present rate of rise, and much more.) (Guinea sent 500 delegates to COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, presumably in order to lobby for climate cash.)
18. Dreams of utopia. [Related to 1 and 11.] There is a belief in some that action on climate change will usher in a new era of wealth, health, mild weather, and no international strife. In fact it will have no effect on such things, unless it makes them worse.
19. Hamster wheel of hype. Stories in the media about climate change have given rise to the absurd phenomenon of “climate grief.” This has led to stories in the media about those suffering from “climate grief,” leading to yet more “climate grief.” (I’m putting that in air quotes to show how ludicrous it is, but plenty of the blame goes on the media.)
20. Social credit. There is a payoff, whether to personal wellbeing or social standing, in virtue signalling. Thus people pay lip service to climate change, even if they know nothing about it. We have clueless celebrities flying across the Atlantic to attend climate marches, and “brown ricers” buying electric cars (usually as a second car) because it makes them feel that they are doing something (when in reality their actions are inconsequential). No doubt it impresses their friends at dinner parties.
21. Articles of faith. It has become difficult for people in the public eye to do anything other than agree with climate change and the need for radical and destructive action to battle it, so they therefore bracket their comments with the necessary lip service. No MPs voted against the UK declaring a climate emergency. Fewer than ten voted against the 2009 Climate Change Act.
22. The silence of the sceptics. (Related to 21.) There are few sceptical voices, even though they often have very good points. Various fora have banned sceptics altogether, including the BBC, which thinks there is “no need to have a ‘denier’ on for balance.” My impression is that panellists on current affairs shows often rein themselves in, fearing that if they say what they really think they will not be invited to attend again. (There is a real threat of no-platforming opposing voices, but only weak arguments need protection, strong ones do not.)
23. Blacklisting. Certain alarmist gangs have tried to blacklist scientists who they consider to have unacceptable opinions, with some success. Needless to say, this is about as anti-science as it is possible to get, other than sending those with opposing voices to the gulag like Lysenko did. For a particularly bitter example, see Pielke (2020).
24. Hidden costs. The public are so far only dimly aware of how much the plans for Net Zero carbon dioxide emissions are going to cost them in wealth and freedom and possibly health. That politicians are not upfront about these means that they know very well that there will be increased opposition the more the public know. The public in Western countries will prefer a measured approach to the radical “Net Zero” once they discover what the latter plan is going to mean for them.
25. Unprecedented use of the term unprecedented. A cheap way to dial up the alarm is to declare floods etc “unprecedented” with not much evidence that they were in fact unprecedented and if they were, that this was caused by climate change. Humans have short memories, and flood defences upstream have the unfortunate consequence of worsening things downstream, for example.
26. Searching in the wrong woods. Scientists often search for reasons that events were caused or worsened by climate change. This is not how science is supposed to work, because it is obvious that when scientists search for effects, they usually find them. If you diligently search the wrong woods, you will sometimes find what you are looking for; if you never search the “right” woods, you will never find the countering evidence. (cf. 8.)
27. The time is now. Every generation believes it is the most important. Critical moments in history are always imminent, as are environmental catastrophes. Looking back, historians will see this time as no more remarkable than any other.
28. Hypocrisy. I will believe that you believe there is a crisis when you start acting as if there is. These words apply to politicians, film stars, pop idols, scientists, charity and UN personnel. For any of these sanctimonious folk to fly anywhere means you can ignore their blandishments. Every Council of Parties (COP; UN climate meetings), where 20,000 delegates fly in to hobnob, is ample evidence that hypocrisy is rife, and that cutting back on CO2 is for the little people like us.
29. What is newsworthy? When three people die in a flood, it makes the news. The 1000 dying of malaria every day and even more dying of TB do not, nor do the much more than 1000 per day who die in road traffic collisions.
30. Moral agency. As mentioned (3), climate change is neutral. As an experiment, ask a friend or colleague what effect climate change will have on diseases. Next, ask them what effect it will have on cute fluffy animals. Most people will answer that undesirable things will get worse with climate change, and desirable things will suffer. This is a logical fallacy that comes about because of emotion.
31. Looking in the back of the wrong hearse. We are killing one another by violence in far greater numbers than the worst plausible climate projections will ever do. Yet this is not declared an emergency nor are nationally-destructive plans made to counter it. More people die daily from TB than will ever die from climate change, yet a “war footing” is not proposed to deal with this.
32. The bliss of ignorance. It is an unfortunate feature of the human condition that wherever we look, whatever we find, we find danger. Some years ago the strength of the North Atlantic Deep Water (the return current from the familiar Gulf Stream) was measured for the second time. Its velocity was lower than the previous measurement, which had taken place decades before. The two numbers led to people saying “Aha!” and interpreting it as a sign of impending Ice Age conditions in Europe. (cf. 3.)
33. The dimmer switch. For much of the mainstream media, “climate change is a scientific fact” (BBC). Treating climate change as “real/false” means that absurd exaggerations get put into the “real” bucket, and any challenge about these exaggerations gets put in the “false” bucket. The question ought not to be whether the light is on or off, but how bright it is. It should not be forbidden to ask how serious climate change is, or whether the measures we are taking against it are worthwhile.
34. Prominent virtue, hidden sin. There is a tendency to laud minor virtuous acts that have no effect on climate change and brush unsustainable lifestyles under the carpet. Thus, celebrities arrive at climate rallies by helicopter or have a life that emits more carbon dioxide than an average hundred of their “subjects”, yet feel able to lecture them about cutting back.
35. Questionable motivation. To many it does not seem possible that sceptics really believe what they say. They must be paid to lie by oil companies etc.
36. It’s worse than we thought. Science papers are more likely to get coverage if they are “interesting”. In climate science, that inevitably means that a researcher has found out that things are “worse than we thought.” Where is the coverage of the “it’s better than we thought” stories? That question should trigger scepticism in the disinterested observer. (cf. 8)
37. Number 4 in the 3.20 at Haydock Park. If I make a prediction about which horse will win a race in a week’s time, my skill is easy to check. If I predict something about the climate in 30 or 80 years, I can say almost anything without fear of contradiction. If climate scientists want to have us believe them, they need to make predictions that can be tested (and these have to be about the alleged impacts of climate change).
38. Feeding the Fat Green Crocodile. Activist organisations do not soften their demands in response to concessions. Instead, their demands get stronger, and the warnings about inaction get louder, and the tactics get more extreme. The crocodile gets fatter; it also gets hungrier.
39. Morality and practicality. The alarmists are so convinced of the rightness of their cause that objections about the impracticality of their demands are brushed aside.
40. Label and destroy. Denier.

Reference

Pielke, R. (2020). How academic ‘blacklists’ impede serious work on climate science. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerpielke/2020/02/09/a-climate-blacklist-that-works-it-should-make-her-unhirable-in-academia/

via Climate Scepticism

November 25, 2022

40 Reasons the Scare is Exaggerated — Climate Scepticism