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Cornwall Alliance / May 8, 2019

Beyond Partisan Ideology and Big-Oil Interests: Why Climate Skepticism Thrives

It is easy to associate climate skepticism with the Republican Party and climate alarmism with the Democratic Party. It’s also easy to brand skeptics as beneficiaries of big oil and proponents of unfettered capitalism and alarmists as in the pocket of big wind and solar and boosters of socialist central planning. But attitudes about climate change transcend political ideologies, and they should.

By Vijay Jayaraj

It is easy to associate climate skepticism with the Republican Party and climate alarmism with the Democratic Party. It’s also easy to brand skeptics as beneficiaries of big oil and proponents of unfettered capitalism and alarmists as in the pocket of big wind and solar and boosters of socialist central planning.

But attitudes about climate change transcend political ideologies, and they should.

Here are a few reasons why I, as a climate scientist, am a skeptic.

1. Will the Real Climate Change Please Stand Up?

Japan’s monthly mean temperatures have shown no significant warming in 40 years. North America had one of its highest snowfall years in 2018. The Indian city of Chennai recorded its historic high way back in 2003. Hundreds of cities in North America recorded their historic lows in 2018, beating even 80-year records.

Satellite measurements of temperature (generally free from biases common to ground instruments) reveal no significant global warming in the past 18 years. When the climate doomsayers themselves acknowledge this hiatus, why would anyone believe their apocalyptic warnings?

And what about recent research by scientists who study the sun? They predict that the next two solar cycles will be the most inactive in recent history, akin to the cycles that caused the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. In all likelihood, even if we escape that devastating experience, there will be no warming to levels preached by alarmists and the mainstream media.

So, will the real climate change please stand up? Not the one shoved down our throats by political institutions or academic researchers with vested interests. The real climate science and real temperature data free from biases like the Urban Heat Island effect.

Some people might deny real-world temperature, but most won’t. In fact, even scientists are not ready! When climate reality differs dramatically from what the mainstream media proclaim, people are right to be skeptical.

2. Climate Policy Rating: Crazier than Crazy

No planes, no cars that run on gas, no nuclear energy, and no fossil fuels. That is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s (D-NY) crazy plan for America’s future.

Little does she understand that almost all products that we use on a daily basis are made from derivatives of fossil fuels, especially petroleum. From our iPhones to our eye glasses, from our cars to our car tires, our roads, our dresses, our shoes, our makeup, and most household wares, almost all are made from fossil fuel derivatives. Abandoning fossil fuel means abandoning all these things, including the climate protestors’ placards.

But set aside the Green New Deal. Even relatively milder climate policies demand changes in our society that will have catastrophic effects on the energy sector.

The call for a transition to renewables is a call to restrict all our energy demand to intermittent, expensive, unreliable energy sources that cannot support a major city even on their best days.

Are people ready to become monks in mountains? No. Fossil-fuel use will continue, and there is no way the energy sector will ever survive exclusively on renewables, especially when doing so offers no quantifiable environmental benefit.

3. Prosperous Bears and Prosperous People

The mascot of global warming has lost its charm, and for good reason. For decades, doomsayers have used polar bears as a sympathy tool to persuade people to believe in extreme man-made global warming.

We can credit the fears and sympathy for polar bears to one man. A wealthy man, flying in private jets and emitting more carbon dioxide in a single month than a city dweller in Manila or Mumbai does in a lifetime. His name is Al Gore, and he is infamous for claiming, in his 2007 film “An Inconvenient Truth,” that Arctic summer sea ice would disappear by 2013, leading to the extinction of polar bears.

Ten years down the line, Arctic summer sea ice is doing fine, and polar bear populations are healthier than before. So much so that Canadian authorities in the Nunuvat province actively sought to increase polar-bear culling.

And it is not just bears that are thriving. Worldwide, the human life expectancy index has increased, thanks to safe housing, advanced health care, and improved agricultural technology — all brought to you by abundant, affordable, reliable energy, roughly 85% of which comes from fossil fuels. Climate change has not increased the number of deaths from hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires, nor the frequency of these extreme weather events. Rather, deaths from those causes are falling, while the events themselves have not risen in either frequency or intensity.

Climate change has in fact helped global agriculture in immense ways. Increasing temperatures and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration levels have contributed to rising yields from the world’s agricultural sector.

The last time our earth was a bit cooler (during the Little Ice Age of the 17th century), agriculture collapsed in Northern Europe and elsewhere. Who needs freezing crops?

4. The Infamous Climategate Saga

Who can forget Climategate? As I worked on a research report at the University of East Anglia in 2009, we received word that the university’s email system had been breached.

Later that week, I learned that thousands of emails and documents were leaked from the email account of a climate scientist at the Climatic Research Unit in my university.

The emails, exchanged between him and other climate scientists across the globe, revealed data manipulations of enormous proportions, done with the sole objective of making the current warming trend appear more dangerous than it was.

Public confidence in climate scientists took a big hit, and people are able to decode the scientists’ manipulation with data even 10 years later.

To restore public confidence in climate science, the academia must rid itself of scientists with vested interests and political connections.

Regardless who win in America’s next elections and what climate policies are implemented, climate skepticism will not die. It will stop when climate science becomes real and unbiased. And that will be a long wait.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in India.

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