New Scientist — Climate Change
Jun 1, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Many years ago I remember reading about a group of scientists (or perhaps not yet scientists), who affirmed the (known to them) expected results of a scientific experiment. The information (affirmation) was a false lead and the experiment was meant to find out how much scientists are biased by ‘expected results’. That scientists can be biased was a revelation to me (at the time), perhaps contributing towards my innate cynicism regarding scientific results¹.
10 Correlations That Are Not Causations: How Stuff Works
The New Scientist has a bias in favour of climate change but it does offset its views on climate change by incorporating human (often commercial) behaviour and semantics that need to be investigated to find your truth. Since 1980 the notion of climate change has become very much political and as a consequence in Peter Oborne’s view very unreliable (although he has become a convert to the anthropocene view). Apart from curiosity, I have no desire to live long enough to see the results of this Anthropocene venture into climate change.
I did allude to the subject of climate change in my (short) post on fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the articles below are the New Scientist offerings on their version of the scientific consensus². Drilled³ has podcasts on courtroom drama, secret documents, psychological warfare, whistleblowers, media manipulation, claiming that it is the longest-running and most elaborate propaganda campaign of the century—the creation and spread of climate denial—and why it’s been so effective.
1. Climate protesters want net zero carbon emissions – is it possible? The Swedish Climate Act came into force last year, demanding net-zero emissions through an 85 per cent reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The remaining 15 per cent will need to come from other options — probably planting trees, removing carbon dioxide from the air or carbon offsets – which a Swedish government commission is examining.
2. The 2018 heatwave may not have been possible without climate change: In a bold claim, researchers are suggesting the extent of the event would have been impossible without the carbon dioxide humanity has pumped into the atmosphere. Global warming appears to be caught red handed. From record temperatures in Japan to wildfires in Sweden, many regions were hit by extreme heat between May and July 2018. A 5 million square kilometre area was affected by hot days over the period – that’s 22 per cent of populated and agricultural areas in the northern hemisphere.
3. Climate change is the new normal but we don’t seem to notice: We measured the literal remark ability of different temperatures by seeing how much comment they generated on Twitter. Hot and cold conditions both generated lots of posts, particularly if they were unusual for a particular place and time of year. But temperatures quickly became unremarkable: after just a couple of years of strange temperatures, people stopped tweeting about them. Our best estimate is that people base their idea of normal weather on what happened in just the past two to eight years.
4. Climate myths — Many leading scientists question climate change: Of course, just because most scientists think something is true does not necessarily mean they are right. But the reason they think the way they do is because of the vast and growing body of evidence. A study in 2004 looked at the abstracts of nearly 1000 scientific papers containing the term “global climate change” published in the previous decade. Not one rejected the consensus position. One critic promptly claimed this study was wrong – but later quietly withdrew the claim.
5. The compelling tale of how climate change denial came to grip the US: The Drilled podcast delves into the climate disinformation campaign that has been steadily infiltrating public consciousness in the US over recent decades. Oil companies, for instance, ran advertorials in major newspapers that often didn’t contain a complete denial of climate change but rather attempted to delay action by claiming that it wasn’t that bad and was a global problem. The campaigns were so good that they landed oil companies in court,which is the subject of recent episodes. The firms now face the same type of scrutiny as tobacco companies, which continued to sell and market products whose dangers weren’t made clear to the public.
Referenced Articles & Books:
- A text subscript above and preceding the title here, refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) are used above to reference a particular article (1-5).
- Links (without superscript) reference a source.
- Links may be in italics to indicate the (context).
- A long read url* (included below) is followed by an asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience (url/book): An argument that what makes science distinctive is its emphasis on evidence and scientists’ willingness to change theories on the basis of new evidence.
²The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (url/pdf): Policy-makers and the public who are not members of the relevant research community have had to form opinions about the reality of global climate change on the basis of often conflicting descriptions provided by the media regarding the level of scientific certainty attached to studies of climate.
³Drilled (url/podcasts): Courtroom drama, secret documents, psychological warfare, whistleblowers, media manipulation, this is a story that has it all. Join us as we uncover the mechanics of the longest-running and most elaborate propaganda campaign of the century—the creation and spread of climate denial—and why it’s been so effective.