Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
The minute a small cabal hijacked climate for a political agenda it determined that setting the record straight required political answers. Naomi Klein admitted it wasn’t about the science directly. That fighting climate change was necessary to combat capitalism. This was the objective all along and expressed in 1993 when Senator Wirth admitted,
“We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing …”
The “right thing” is achieving Maurice Strong’s objective of getting rid of the industrialized nations.
Too many skeptics continue to think that scientific points are going to change the public understanding. Most of the public don’t understand, but, more important, don’t want to understand. I doubt the 75% who failed the Yale Education Climate Change test lost any sleep. Polls, such as those of the Pew Center and overall analysis of trends indicate global warming or climate change are not a concern for most people. I suspect they don’t care because they don’t understand or want to understand. They also know how about the unreliability of weather forecasts, and that is all the science they need. One Pew poll confirms that the public believes global warming is a political issue. Because of this, politicians and environmentalists with political agendas continue to control the story. James Delingpole puts the amount of money wasted because of this control at $4 billion a day.
Because science is ideally amoral and apolitical most scientists avoid politics, which results in a failure to provide necessary information to open-minded politicians and media. They need this to counter the pseudo-science of the IPCC proponents. They knew what to do from the start. Stephen Schneider set it out succinctly in Discover magazine a year after Hansen appeared before Wirth’s Senate committee and put the entire issue into the political realm.
On the one hand we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but& which means that we must include all the doubts, caveats, ifs and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people, we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This double ethical bind which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
If this sounds familiar today, it is because it summarizes the words in the recent Encyclical of Pope Francis. Schneider is wrong. There is no decision about right and wrong, which is why the Pope’s connection with climate deceivers contradicts his central role as upholder of truth and is so deeply troubling. It is the rationale Naomi Klein and other use, which is why they brought her on board. It is basic Alinsky; the end justifies the means.
I spoke about the need to counter the false science from a political and social perspective, in my presentation at the First Heartland Conference in New York ten years ago. I pointed out that Gore’s movie was a brilliant piece of propaganda. A view supported by Justice Burton the UK judge who ruled on its use in the classroom.
It is now common ground that it is not simply a science film – although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion – but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political.
Justice Burton recommended teachers provide balance by also showing The Great Global Warming Swindle. I proudly advised producer Martin Durkin and appeared in the movie. I also warned him that the US media would not run it, as proved the case, although it is now generally available. The problem is that only a small percentage of people watch documentaries on television. Gore bypassed that by using Hollywood to make the movie but also to market it through all their traditional venues. They knew how to achieve Schneider’s goal of getting “broad-based support” and “capturing the public’s imagination.”
Skeptics have, for a variety of reasons, avoided the “Hollywood” approach. It is a major error. We need to realize that tactics are tactics, and that the adage that you fight fire with fire is true. The first thing to do in any strategy is define the problem and the second is to determine the target and thirdly use tactics appropriate to the situation.
The problem is a failure to explain climate science and its abuse in a way a majority can understand. The following points are gleaned from my experience with media interviews, school visits, questions after a presentation, and questions via email. They represent the issues I confront every day. They are the real challenges anybody trying to offset the misinformation about climate and climate change must consider. They are the political dynamics that influence how you help people understand and deal with science issues.
1. People can’t believe a small group of people could mislead the world. Nowadays, the explosion of conspiracy theories because of the Internet, make the idea even more remote and unpalatable. They need to heed world-renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead’s observation.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
This comment implies that “thoughtful” and “committed” are pursuing positive changes. History indicates they are never positive as power centralizes and corrupts and people lose freedoms.
2. People can’t believe scientists would distort, manipulate, or do anything other than proper science. They accept the view that science and scientists are amoral and apolitical. As Mary McCarthy said,
“In science, all facts, no matter how trivial or banal, enjoy democratic equality.”
This is reinforced by the practice of most scientists to avoid politics. The public assumes the silence is a tacit agreement with what is in the media about global warming.
3. It is mostly the politicians who talk about the 97% manufactured consensus. The public asks as happened to me twice on radio this week,
“How come thousands of scientists believe there is global warming and climate change?”
The simple answer is, very few are familiar with the science. They, like most of the public, assume other scientists would not distort, manipulate, or do anything other than proper science. When scientists find out, they are shocked as exemplified in Klaus-Eckert Puls comment.
Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data—first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of
what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it.
IPCC proponents promoted and perpetuated this deception through science societies as I explained.
A particularly egregious exploitation was carried out through science societies and professional scientific groups. They were given the climate science of the IPCC and urged to support it on behalf of their members. Certainly a few were part of the exploitation, but a majority, including most of the members simply assumed that the rigorous methods of research and publication in their science were used. Lord May of the UK Royal Society was influential in the manipulation of public perception through national scientific societies. They persuaded other national societies to become involved by making public statements. The Russian Academy of Science, under its President Yuri Israel, refused to participate.
4. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Never in the history of mankind have so many been deceived by so few, with so few facts.” The more you try to counteract what the public knows using scientific facts, the more you lose the battle. If you use scientific facts you must couch them in terms and analogies everybody understands. I know this from 25 years of teaching a compulsory science credit course for Arts students. The abilities and techniques I developed there of explaining climate in ways the public understand made me a double threat to IPCC proponents because I was also qualified.
5. Most people don’t know what is “normal” or “natural” in nature. This made it easy to imply or infer that they were abnormal or unnatural. It works well with the modern practice of “sound bites” in which information is presented without context. Climate change is innately historical and demands context. There are two basic options to counter the problem. Publish the context for each story as soon as possible after it appears. Publish stories of true facts that are outside of people’s comprehension using analogies. For example, alarmists add human scale to stories with analogies. One year they reported Arctic sea ice melted more by an area the size of Texas than the previous year. Texas is 695,662 km2, which is approximately 4.6% of the total Arctic ice of 15 million km2. The change is within the natural annual variability, but Texas is big so it must be a problem.
6. We tell people CO2 isn’t causing the warming but fail to explain why. This is for people who don’t know what a greenhouse gas is or that water vapor is far more important. (Figure 1)
Figure 1 Source: Yale Education Climate Change Test.
We then fail to explain what is the most likely cause. As politicians learn to their peril, you can’t just be against something.
Today they push the global warming claims with increasing deception because the 21st Paris Conference of the Parties on climate is scheduled for 7-8 December 2015. They consider it imperative to pass a Kyoto type set of policies. Ironically, one thing that diminishes their chances is continued economic decline, the very objective of Wirth, Klein and the gang. It is ironic because politicians will reset their priorities to promote development, growth, and job creation because they don’t want angry voters. What they will get is angry global warming activists with a political agenda.