Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
It is 28 years since Channel 4 in the UK produced The Greenhouse Conspiracy. It covered almost all the skeptical critiques. They are still valid, but now they are time -tested. Sadly, even today most people would not understand what was said in the movie and how it disproves the claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Encouragingly, there are some signs that the continued efforts of the global warming skeptics are influencing public opinion, but overall little has changed. The public is in a holding pattern, knowing something is wrong but not reaching a final understanding for several reasons including that:
· The information is coming from government, and that is always held with suspicion, although the amount varies nationally. For example, Americans are more suspicious of government than Canadians.
· Government information comes in two major ways, bureaucrats, and politicians. Public distrust of bureaucrats is because most people have dealt with them and find out the adage that you can’t fight city hall has much truth. In addition, the disclosures currently about the deep state in the IRS, the DOJ, FBI and EPA are reinforcing and confirming suspicions.
· Distrust of politicians is at all-time lows, especially in the US.
· Approximately 80 percent don’t understand science and so don’t say anything.
· Most of the 20 percent who are comfortable with science do not understand climate science and also tend to be quiet.
· A majority of those who voice opinions do so vociferously and definitively and confirm Mark Twain’s observation that it is wiser to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are stupid than to open it and prove them right.
· Many know that the switch of terminology from “Global warming’ to “Climate change” was done for a reason, but they don’t know why. Nonetheless, it raises suspicion.
· Many knew that Al Gore’s comment to Congress that the science is settled, and the debate is over was inaccurate.
· Many of the predictions of doom and gloom did not materialize.
· They are numbed to the extremism of the media. Even FOX News has “Extreme weather” rather than just, the weather. Public ratings of the media are at an all-time low.
· The claims that people would react negatively and violently to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord proved false.
· There is a growing distrust of science generally, and climate science specifically as this quote from a Pew Center report shows. “Overall, many people hold skeptical views of climate scientists and GM food scientists; a larger share express trust in medical scientists, but there, too, many express what survey analysts call a “soft” positive rather than a strongly positive view.”
This last quote partially confirms why the people are in a ‘holding pattern.” They don’t know who to trust so avoid the issue by setting it aside. This is quantified differently in other major polls. Figure 1 shows a Pew Center poll of public priorities with “climate change” 18th out of 19.
Figure 2 shows a more telling holding pattern of almost 10 million people. Climate change is 16th out of 16.
Politicians who claim they look at polls are clearly not looking at these or are deliberately ignoring them. Other than Trump, most politicians are still making blustering claims about the need for action. Witness the ignorance displayed by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Environment Minister. I am painfully and expensively aware of how little lawyers know about climate science. However, I am also aware that McKenna, as a lawyer, should know better than most that there are two sides to every issue.
The question is why are the public in a holding pattern? The public constantly hears from skeptics that CO2 is not to blame for global warming and latterly climate change. The problem is skeptics usually fail to provide a viable alternative explanation for the change, often, even if pushed. This is evident in the responses to articles on WUWT about the sun/temperature connection. Of course, even if a clear, concise scientific explanation were provided a majority of the public would not understand.
Fortunately, most also understand they will never fully grasp the complexity of the science. I say fortunately because that means there is something else making them hesitant. What they are hearing is that beyond normal scientific conflict there are claims of malfeasance. Consider this in the context of discussions about legal action. The courts argue that a scientific dispute is “your paper” versus “my paper” and they are not qualified to arbitrate. That in itself is a sad comment on the legal system. Science has been a major part of society with enormous influence for at least 200 years, yet the legal system still hasn’t made an accommodation.
Such was the case in the recent misplaced excitement about Judge William Alsup’s unique request. He invited all sides to answer specific questions as the basis for a “tutorial.” The Heartland Institute and the participants in the amici curiae brief did a superb job in responding to the opportunity provided by the trial and the judge’s request. The difficulty is they were only able to provide scientific answers. These elucidate the basic differences between their “paper” and those identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) “paper.” The Amici showed that it remains a scientific difference and that,
“…there is no ‘consensus’ among scientists that recent global warming was chiefly anthropogenic, still less that unmitigated anthropogenic warming has been or will be dangerous or catastrophic.”
It is not enough and explains why the public opts for the sidelines.
In the last week, I was interviewed on eight different radio stations across America. Each interviewer understood the difference was more than scientific. They all knew about some of the malfeasance so effectively laid out over the years by Anthony Watts and his many contributors. I know when people realize the difference is more than scientific there is an automatic question that comes to mind. Every interviewer asked it directly or indirectly. What is the motive?
The judge’s opening comment at my recent trial was that his court would not be used to settle the global warming debate. He then made comments about the article at the center of the case that showed he knew little. He didn’t appear to realize that the case was about “my paper” against “your corrupt paper.” My concern was the motive, the misuse of science for a political agenda. The prosecution lawyer knew the dangers to his client of establishing that argument.
He did what happens in almost every interview or debate I have ever done about AGW when people realize they are losing an argument and are not prepared to admit it. He began a personal attack. It was not a frontal assault but an attempt to show my thinking and positions were so outside the mainstream that they lacked credibility. He suggested I believed that there was a conspiracy. I was, in fact, a “conspiracy theorist.” The evolution and adaptation of this as a weaponized term was explained by one author as follows.
“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate.
AGW proponents do a very good job of marginalizing opponents as members of fringe groups, such as global warming skeptics or climate change deniers. If those fail, they resort to the charge that you are a conspiracy theorist. This is very effective because most of the public doesn’t want to be associated with extremists or losers. Of course, the reality is conspiracies do occur otherwise the word would not exist. In my trial I explained that it didn’t matter whether there was a conspiracy, the reality was science was used for a political agenda and that must never happen.
If you accept the conspiracy argument, you usually believe that it was carried out by a small group. That reinforces the inaccurate public belief that a small group cannot fool the world. This is an extension of Abraham Lincoln’s claim that you cannot fool all the people all the time. However, Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Lincoln’s comment is possibly true over time, but in the short term, you can especially if you deliberately marginalize those who speak up. That is what happened to the few who dared to question or challenge. Part of the problem is that the public thinks a conspiracy requires a large group of people, but one definition dispels that myth.
An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
There are reasons why I was attacked so openly, and they all speak to the threat I represented. They could not say I wasn’t qualified. I challenged the pseudoscience of global warming because the same thing happened with the “consensus” about global cooling when I began studying climate in the 1960s. I developed a natural teaching ability to explain complex issues like climate change to the public. This included honing this ability by teaching a science credit course for Arts students for 25 years. Most important, because my interest was in the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on the human condition I studied and taught a course in geopolitics. The basic theme there is that geography and climate are the stage and history the play acted out and influenced by that stage. I did what most scientists deliberately avoid, I studied politics and understood from the beginning what and how science was used. I explained the motive and the method. Many articles and public presentations about the entire story culminated in the publication of a detailed and documented explanation in the 2014 book, The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science. However, I was a target long before that as the lawsuits that are now in their 7th year continue.
The “holding pattern” will continue until we can explain to the public the motive behind the AGW claims and activities. Unless more people, especially skeptics understand the motive and speak out, it may be another 28 years. I have another dozen or more radio interviews scheduled so maybe the cross-pollination of the internet will trigger an exponential increase in the number who move out of the holding pattern because they know the motive. We better move fast because it is evident, with Obama’s net neutrality and the Zuckerberg hearings, that those who seek to control are moving in on the internet. Oh, sorry, is that another conspiracy theory?