Guest essay by Iain Aitken
Dear Colleagues – As President Trump hints at the withdrawal of our country from the Paris climate accord there has never been a greater threat to the Cause of saving our planet from catastrophic man-made global warming – so now, more than ever, we must be adroit in all dealings with the media. Whilst it is true that the climate models are obviously running hot and we appear to have assumed far too high a value for climate sensitivity and have obviously grossly underestimated natural climate variability we can rest assured that these highly damaging facts are far too arcane for the scientifically illiterate public, journalists and politicians; fortunately it is only the climate change sceptics who understand how all this undermines our great Cause – and happily we continue to be highly successful in discrediting and silencing them. But should the global warming Pause ever be publically acknowledged this could destroy us – it is our Sword of Damocles. Therefore I would urge you to study and memorise the imaginary interview below setting our clear steps that you should follow in any dealings with the media to help ensure that this potential disaster does not befall us.
Interviewer: Hello and welcome to the Science Spot! [applause] Tonight we have a treat for you as we welcome to the show none other than one of the top scientists saving the planet from catastrophic man-made climate change, Professor Pete Pecksniff, Head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Ford, England, Europe! [wild applause] Great of you to take time off to talk to us, Professor.
Pecksniff: It’s my pleasure to be here, Bill. They do let us out of the lab for short periods! [laughter]
Interviewer: So, first up, Professor, I’ve heard that when you set aside last year’s extreme El Niño weather event there has been about twenty years without any statistically significant global warming, something they call the ‘Pause’. Given that about a third of all man-made greenhouse gases in history were emitted over that period can that really be true? I mean, if that’s true then doesn’t that blow out of the water any belief in dangerous man-made global warming?
Pecksniff: I’m so glad you’ve brought that up, Bill. These days we seem to be swimming in a sea of Fake News and I’m delighted that your show is bringing this disgraceful practice to the public attention.
Interviewer: Right. So what you’re saying is that the Pause is Fake News?
Pecksniff: What I’m saying, Bill, is that there are Facts and then there are Alternative Facts and I applaud you for helping educate the public to recognise one from the other.
Interviewer: OK. So what you are saying is that the Pause is actually a lie?
Pecksniff: Look, let’s be absolutely clear about this – any suggestion that we are experiencing global cooling is total nonsense and can be discounted out of hand.
Interviewer: Well, yes, Professor. But the thing is I didn’t actually ask you if we were experiencing global cooling – I asked you if there had been a Pause in global warming which, you know, isn’t really the same thing?
Pecksniff: Exactly. There is no reason whatsoever to think that global warming has stopped and I can assure you absolutely that no climate scientist in the world believes that it has.
Interviewer: Right. Yes, I’m sure that’s true. But, you see that doesn’t really answer my question?
Pecksniff: [sighs and puts head in hands] Look, I don’t know how to be any clearer about this. The fact is that we are experiencing global warming – the scientific evidence of that is unequivocal! Furthermore 2014, 2015 and 2016 have all, successively, been the warmest years since records began. And ten of the warmest years since records began have all fallen in this century! How much more evidence is needed, for goodness sake?
Interviewer: Yes, well, I kind of get all that. But, and I hate to press you here, Professor, but it sort of seems to me that everything you’ve said so far could all be true – and yet the twenty year Pause in global warming could also be true. Couldn’t it? I mean the trend from 1950, say, could be up but the trend since 1997 could be flat. And all those warm years this century could be warm and yet the trend could still be flat. Er, couldn’t it?
Pecksniff: Bill, I really hate to have to do this because I have no wish whatsoever to embarrass you in front of your audience but I have here a graph that should answer your question once and for all [takes paper from jacket pocket, unfolds it and shows it to the camera] Can your camera catch that? As should be abundantly obvious we see a dramatic global warming trend over the last twenty years.
Interviewer: [squirming] Well, you certainly can’t argue with that. My apologies for pressing you on all this, Professor. At last we have the absolute truth that the Pause is just a myth.
Pecksniff: [gracious patronising smile] You said it, Bill.
Should anyone be concerned that the Interviewer might realise that the graph is based on only the terrestrial temperature datasets and pull out his own graph based on the far more accurate RSS/UAH satellite datasets, so revealing the Pause, rest assured that this has never happened. Indeed the chance of the Interviewer getting beyond the second or third question before giving up is remote. Consequently, provided we are all careful to stick closely to this script, which, remember, sticks to the literal truth and does not require that any explicit lies be told, the Pause can be kept hidden. Whilst I appreciate that many of you may have qualms about employing such blatant obfuscation and dissimulation always remember that the end, in service of the Cause, justifies the means.