The Whole Truth?

23 02 2008

After two days writing about a topic that seemingly nobody cares about (cricket) I now move back to a topic that’s I’ve written about extensively in the past; Global Warming. I have actually tried to steer clear of the topic as much as possible, especially more recently, as I think my views have been made abundantly clear and the blogosphere is full of blogs discussing it.

Yet this morning I awoke to see it discussed yet again on the BBC and the debate on screen fired up my passions and inspired me to write. There was a scientist on the Breakfast show who had come in to discuss a programme that was on the other day (about climate change, obviously) and she was arguing that it had portrayed too much of the “disaster story” side of things, rather than putting things into context.

Much of the media content on the topic of climate change, she went on to say, failed to weigh all the facts with appropriate balance. Rather than putting forward all the possible outcomes that could occur, she said, they only ever put forward the “worst case scenario” horror stories. This is actually something I’ve said for a long time.

At this point it would be fitting of me to say that I didn’t actually see the documentary in question so I shall not be commenting on it or its validity, but the maker of it was sat next to this scientist while she was criticising it. Even he conceded that sometimes, when you condense a large document, such as a 120 page report on Climate Change, into a digestible documentary that the public can watch, a lot of the context is lost.

When you consider the complicated nature of a lot of the research into Global Warming you can see his point. There’s no point making a documentary that viewers find overly technical (without meaning to sound patronising). Then there’s the time constraints of fitting what is perceived to be the most salient information into the allotted time, which can be anywhere from a meagre half hour to an only slightly better hour and a half.

The more keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed I said “what is perceived to be the most salient” and this was because the man behind this documentary admitted that the biggest issue people have is that they’re afraid of “what might happen”, and so many people want to be told the worst case scenario. This is something I hadn’t really considered before, that the fear-mongering is actually self-perpetuating.

Documentary makers go out of their way to put that frightening image forward because people want to be given the scariest possible outcome. They want to be told why they should be concerned by warming, if at all. The problem with this is that as a result the public is being encouraged, subconsciously, to seek out more information that is of a similar type, and this makes the “worst case scenario” the only scenario.

Perhaps people need to be encouraged to by documentary makers to seek out information for themselves, to do their own research in order to find the context that they themselves admit is missing from their work. Of course this would require honesty in documentary making, a quality that is on the decline I fear. Were it not, funnily enough, for the honesty of this particular documentary maker I doubt I would have learnt, for example, of possible benefits of Global Warming. Yes, benefits.

Apparently there are benefits to the current Climate Change. I won’t go into great detail about these, as the discussion of them was relatively short, but according to the scientist who was on, more people die every year from cold than would die from the effects of the one in four chance of an extreme heatwave in the next century. Yes, the chance of feeling the most extreme effects of Global Warming that we’re constantly told about is actually less than the chance of being affected by cancer (one in three).

Not only that but on top of all the negative changes we’re told about, like the ice caps melting, tropical storms or widespread flooding, with entire countries being under water, there might be benefits. Even with this world ravaged by change, less people will die than are currently dying from extreme cold. Not only that but out of every major climate shift the planet has undergone, the human species has evolved.

Perhaps this is simply the next stage in the evolution of our species?



5 responses

23 02 2008
Dan Pangburn

It is unfortunate that so many people have bought in to the anthropogenic global warming mistake when they could have investigated the issue themselves using credible sources readily available on the web. Some people are concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The assessment that there is over 50 times as much carbon in the ocean as exists in the atmosphere, does not appear to be very widely known.

Apparently no one did any real research before or they would have discovered that 440 mya the planet plunged into the Andean-Saharan ice age, when atmospheric carbon dioxide was over ten times the present level (or if the original paper is preferred).

With a little further real research they would have discovered that, in the current ice age, temperature trends have changed direction at many different temperature levels. See temperature anomalies from here supplemented with recent data from here or here. This could not occur if there was significant positive feedback.

If they had also looked at the carbon dioxide level from here they would have discovered that the change in atmospheric carbon dioxide level typically lagged average Earth temperature change by hundreds of years. If they had looked at the temperature data and Law Dome carbon dioxide data and the recent data from Mauna Loa or other sources they might have also noticed that there is no correlation, except possibly for the 22 years from 1976 to 1998 when carbon dioxide level and average global temperature both increased.

None of the historical global climate data shows any significant influence of carbon dioxide level on temperature.

Peer review biased by group-think is de facto censorship. The result here is a plethora of papers advocating that human activity is causing global warming and a paucity of ‘peer reviewed’ published papers that objectively investigate the extent to which human-produced carbon dioxide is contributing to global warming. Since this is the case, it’s probably going to have to get a lot colder before very much changes in most of the media. It will get colder eventually and a lot of people are going to look pretty foolish. It might even get warmer first like it has four other times in the last 11000 years but that’s not likely since we are past due for the coming glacial age. During the coming glaciation, half of the population will starve because rice does not grow on ice.

23 02 2008
Dan Pangburn

The 22 year long temperature rise that got a lot of people convinced that human activity was causing global warming stopped in 1998. Now we see that the average global temperature from Jan 2007 through Jan 2008 dropped more than the rise from 1901 to 2001. What next?

23 02 2008
Mr President

Thank you for those links Dan. I’ve long said that I believe the scientific evidence suggests that any warming is simply a prelude to a coming ice age, and not man-made but rather just another change in the Earth’s atmosphere that we ought to be trying to adapt to.

25 02 2008
Andy D

I try not to write about global warming on my site any more. I get the same people rehashing the same arguments every time. I have said over and over that man doesn’t know enough to legislate a solution. Many of the solutions that are purposed have pretty dire consequences.

25 02 2008
Mr President

Yeah, I don’t blame you. Having engaged in a few of those debates myself I’ve seen first hand that no matter how compelling an argument you make, some people on the man-made Climate Change bandwagon simply won’t listen. It’s like they’re brainwashed drones.

For me many of the “solutions” we’re using to “solve” the problem could potentially make it worse. If, as much of the evidence suggests, an ice age is coming, food will be scarce, so the last thing we need is more biofuels. That’s just one example. We need to do more research.

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