By David Mason-Jones
With the Glasgow summit drawing near we face an unrelenting onslaught from parts of the media to convince us that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. According to one media editor, not only is it a foregone conclusion but it is also our chance to be on the right or wrong side of history.
Under the same general line of persuasion, we are pushed to accept the implication that those who don’t agree are vacuous brained, laggers, incapable of understanding or accepting science, not caring about the environment and so mentally stuck-in-the-mud that they are incapable of accepting change. This media pounding affects from time to time I sometimes feel defeated by all the spin. I get exasperated that this issue seems driven by emotional ‘reasoning’ (if that’s not a contradiction of terms) rather than the detached process of observations about the real world, collection of data, testing of hypotheses and deductive reasoning.
What a wonderful thing it was therefore to read Patrick Moore’s recent book, ‘Fake invisible catastrophes and threats of doom’ ISBN-85685955-0-2 published by Ecosense Environmental Inc.
The wonderful aspect is that here is a person with impeccable environmental credentials stretching way back to the start of the global warming scare, and beyond, who reveals a story of conversion. Having been a co-founder of Greenpeace itself, and a member of its governing board for many years, Moore’s commitment to a healthy environment is beyond rational dispute. He has however changed his mind from the position touted by the organisation he once helped to form and nurture in its early years. He changed by a process of intellectual and scientific enquiry where he has researched the claims and emotion-laden statements about the state of the planet and the role of carbon dioxide plays. He simply finds the evidence for catastrophe lacking. Indeed, he finds the exact opposite to be the truth.
Moore reveals an interesting insight at the start of the book. Instead of going straight into a set-piece analysis of factors supposedly contributing to, or ‘proving’, the human caused global warming hypothesis, he poses a question. He asks the reader to ponder why it is that so many of the so-called proofs of the warming hypothesis are based on things that are either invisible or inaccessible to the average person. In the invisible category he cites carbon dioxide and radiation and in the remote category he cites Polar Bears and coral reefs. As average people find it hard to carry out a Polar Bear count, they are forced to rely on, and trust, the ‘experts’ who have the financial backing and incentive to perpetuate the story.
When I read Moore’s insight ab out invisible and remote things, I was hooked for the rest of the book. I assure others that they also will be hooked, right to the end of the last chapter.
Moore develops chapters on the Great Barrier Reef, which, incidentally, even the Australian Institute of Marine Science says is in good order, the geological record of carbon dioxide levels during times of high carbon dioxide and periods of low carbon dioxide, the asserted link between carbon dioxide levels and atmospheric temperature rises and falls, the impossibility of the Oceans becoming acid, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which, those who have gone looking for it just can’t find. Of course, Polar Bears get a big mention.
In chapter after chapter Patrick dismantles the false claims with withering logic. He supports his case by reference to published scientific studies and multiple maps and graphs.
All this is done generally without rancour and personal attacks – a refreshing change to what you will hear on much of the media about the fear of global warming. I say ‘generally’ because there is one major instance where he drops his reluctance to make it personal and this comes in the last chapter. For fear of spoiling the ending by telling everyone the bizarre situation in the last chapter, I will not reveal it. I’ll just advise readers to get the book and read it for yourselves – you will not be disappointed.
There is a further sub-text to the book which sits just below the surface of the logic-based argument Moore presents. This is about the endless tug-of-war in communications theory between the reliance on emotion to get your message across or the reliance on strict logic to convey your message.
In terms of the conventional wisdom about communication, the sales trainers, advertising executives, speech writers and spin doctors will tell you that emotion trumps logic in terms of its power to persuade. So why doesn’t Patrick Moore give up on logical persuasion and only appeal to raw emotion? Moore obviously discards this option because it would not be ethically justified to resort to the unethical tactics of the other side. Patrick Moore actually cares about the facts and logic.
So what to do – press on with logic or go for the emotion? I applaud Patrick Moore in plugging away with harder task of telling the rigorous scientific truth because eventually, the false emotional appeal of threats of doom will fail of its own accord. The advertising campaigns supporting the cigarette industry in many countries provide a case in point. If you look back at the advertising from decades ago, you will see that it was emotion, emotion and emotion. If you wanted to jet-set off the sophisticated foreign countries, you had to smoke this cigarette. If you wanted to be popular with the opposite sex then you had to smoke this brand and if you wanted to be a real man, active and strong, you had to smoke this one.
And it worked. Smoking rates soared.
Cigarette advertising was never about the medical truth that, over time, smoking can cause severe health problems and death. For many years, the emotional message about smoking prevailed over the logical message. But once the medical evidence against the benefits of smoking became overwhelming, the emotional message began crumbling and has collapsed in many countries.
So may it be with the Great Carbon Dioxide scare and the work of Patrick Moore. He is heroic in setting down the case that we are living in a time when future generations may well cite as being one of the greatest examples of the Madness of Crowds in all history. To do this he has had to find the courage to face the ire of many people who were once his comrades …. and he has succeeded admirably.
I highly recommend the book.
David Mason-Jones is a freelance journalist of many years’ experience www.journalist.com.au