Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Camille Parmesan is a US / UK based scientist who has accepted President Macron’s challenge to President Trump, Macron’s offer of funding for US climate scientists who move to France. Camille thinks climate “deniers” live in a world of fiction – but she does not present any real evidence to back her claims.
Camille Parmesan: ‘Trump’s extremism on climate change has brought people together’
Interview by John Vidal
Sun 31 Dec ‘17 18.00 AEDT
The climate scientist on leaving the US to work in France – with funding from President Macron – and why she believes Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement will backfire on him.
Camille Parmesan, a biologist at the universities of Texas and Plymouth, is one of the world’s most influential climate change scientists, having shown how butterflies and other species are affected by it across all continents. She is one of 18 US scientists moving to France to take up President Macron’s invitation of refuge after Donald Trump’s decision to cut science funding and withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris agreement.
What has made you leave the US?
The impact of Trump on climate science has been far greater than what the public believe it has. He has not only slashed funding, but he’s gone on the attack in any way he can with his powers as the president. University researchers are buffered from this, but scientists working at government agencies have really felt the blow. They have been muffled and not allowed to speak freely with the press, they have had their reports altered to remove “climate change” from the text, and are being told to leave climate change out of future reports and funding proposals. This degrades the entire climate science community. Scientists are fighting back, but Congress needs to exercise its constitutional powers and keep the executive branch in check. This is not a partisan issue – this is about the future of America.
Are you angry?
None of us expected Trump to win. It was a real shock. It was horrifying to have him as a candidate. He was so extreme. Frankly, I am not just angry at the far right, extreme Republican groups but also with [some] liberals who bought the Russian propaganda and who are not taking responsibility. And with people who didn’t vote. Good lord. You need to vote! It was a bit like Brexit. Many young people did not vote. I understand they did not want a mainstream candidate but they got Trump and Brexit.
When do you expect the major impacts to take place?
Things will shift to the extremely negative in the next 50 years. Climate scientists are doing decadal projects and it starts really shifting about 2070-2090. That is in my children’s lifetimes. They will have to deal with it. That’s what makes me angry. Policymakers are mostly in their 50s and they will be dead by then. The worst impacts will hit their grandchildren. That’s what annoys me about young people not voting. They will be the most severely impacted.
What about the deniers?
People like believing in fiction in the face of reality. We’ve had many climate disasters and they haven’t woken up the minority who are still living in a fictional universe. People want to believe this lie and I don’t know how to get through to them. But hurricanes like Harvey and Katrina have woken up middle-of-the-road people. It’s not that they were denying climate change, but it was unimportant to them. These people are beginning to understand it is impacting whole countries and regions.
Camille, if you want to “get through to deniers”, you could try offering some real evidence to back your claims.
Hurricane Katrina and Harvey are not evidence of imminent climate catastrophe. Powerful hurricanes occurred before the industrial age, and they will continue to occur regardless of what we do about CO2 emissions. If anything, long term there has been a decline in strong hurricanes making landfall on the continental USA.
The incontestable stream of climate disasters Camille predicts will not strike until 2070 – 2090, by which time most of us will be dead. Her climate claims are not falsifiable on any reasonable timescale.
Camille’s 2070 – 2090 timescale seems a bit of an advance on most climate disaster predictions. Is it just me, or does the settled science date of this “imminent” climate disaster always seem to be galloping off further into the distant future?
Update (EW): Hilited “this is not a partisan issue” (h/t BallBounces)