I got a comment on this post I did in June Sex, Lies and Videotape (ok, no sex- sorry) which put forward a couple of the classic ideas that global warming deniers are using to fool people. The commenter was referring to my use of the “Simon and Garfunkel” quote to illustrate that deniers, and those who are fooled by their idiotic, irresponsible rubbish, are wearing blinkers to shut out what they don’t want to see or hear. This is what they wrote in their comment:
“a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” also applies to the Climate Change believers too!
Fact is, there's no such thing as 'normal' weather or climate, we just happen to be in a reasonably stable period, but if things are changing it could be due to natural cycles we just don't understand yet”.
This annoyed me greatly that someone could just so blithely ignore everything else that might conflict with their wishful thinking and then so confidently spout bullshit. I did a long reply and I think it is justified to re-use it as a post. I have added to the original a little.
This is my answer to “anonymous’s” comment:
No, it really doesn't apply to the Climate Change "believers" too. With this one comment you display your complete ignorance of the reality of the situation.
A huge mistake that critics like you tend to make is to believe that everybody's opinion, in “debates” like this, is of equal value. It is not. There is a fundamental difference between the opinion of the man in the pub who believes something because he once read a half understood article or saw a half-remembered documentary on TV such as that out and out garbage "The Great Global warming Swindle" that seemed pretty convincing to him and, on the other hand, the opinion of people who stake their position based upon tens of thousands of man years of work by climate scientists publishing peer reviewed scientific papers, building on what is known and predicting most likely outcomes based on this. It's like asking a four year old and a NASA scientist what the Moon is made of, then, because of your particular prejudices, which make you want to believe that the Moon is made of green cheese, you go with the answer of the four year old. Clearly, if you are gambling with eveybody’s future (which you are if you cling to your beliefs) it should be wisest to believe the NASA scientist rather than the four year old or the propagandists.
What to believe should not be a matter solely of whatever you want to believe. It's not even a matter of democratically counting up who believes what and going with the majority - that is mere politics. It is a matter of assessing whose viewpoint is credible or not and then making a risk assessment of who it would be safest to listen to. Big clue: it's not the irresponsible idiots who claim there is nothing to worry about!
You wrote: "Fact is, there's no such thing as 'normal' weather or climate, we just happen to be in a reasonably stable period, but if things are changing it could be due to natural cycles we just don't understand yet"
Do you honestly think that climate scientists don't know about the normal state of the climate? - about the many other "normal" states of the climate that have existed over the millennia and the savage climate instability and disruption and mass extinction of species that sometimes occurs when one normal state of the climate changes to another? And yet you and your ilk want to risk everybody's neck because you don’t want to believe in the science or the risk analysis? You lot are mad, bad or dangerous to know!
The change of the climate from one "normal" state to another has happened many times in the past, often with catastrophic consequences for most of the life on earth at the time. But… the factors which set off these "flips" back then built up over a long period of time. What scares many climate scientists, and knowledgeable people, rigid is the certain knowledge that the rate we have been pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, deforesting and changing land use, and massively increasing the number of ruminant cattle (which generate lots of methane) is far, far, far, faster than anything that natural cycles ever did. We're not talking weeks or months but in terms of a decade or three. It may take a long time for a supertanker to change its direction because it’s big and heavy but Earth is considerably bigger and heavier and human induced climate change does not happen overnight but is certainly happening at an "unnaturally fast" rate. Because of this inertia, we already have a couple of decades of emissions "in the climate bank" that have yet to change supertanker Earth's direction. Similarly, any changes to green house emissions that we set in motion now will take a long time before they affect the momentum of the supertanker. This is why it is hyper-stupid to "wait until the science is settled" as some deniers/delayers call for. By the time we know for sure, it will be much too late to stop things.
The propaganda "it’s normal for the climate to change"and the "inadequately understood natural cycles" ideas are framed in a poisonously misleading way. They are deliberately used by deniers to fool ordinary people because they seem plausible. They invite you to jump to the false logical conclusion that, if the climate is changing, it must be due to natural causes. You have been sucked in. Climate scientists are generally far more knowledgeable about climate than the average person (duhhh!). The major natural cycles are well understood and black propaganda, such that the observed global warming (which even the contrarian scientists admit is happening) is down to cycles in the sun, has also been demolished, not least in several of the other videos in the "crock of the week" series on this blog if you could have been bothered to look, instead of reflexively shooting from the hip.
The root of the apparent plausibility of this particular piece of propaganda is based upon the following slippery idea which you will have no doubt seen on the websites you favour - "the Earth is so huge, and we humans are so small, that we cannot possibly be having an effect on it, therefore if we see anything happening it must be due to natural cycles". It is laughably ridiculous, as anyone with basic mathematical knowledge should realise if they divide up the surface area of earth between the 6.6 billion inhabitants to find out how much "land" each person has as their “share”.
To save you the time, the answer is a square 150 metres on a side, or about 2.25 hectares. This is the space within which all the crops you eat have to be grown; all your food animals have to be grazed in; all the food plants to make the feed supplement have to be grown; all the trees and plants, that create our share of the oxygen that we need to breathe have to grow in; all the materials to make your car, your house, your share of the roads and the buildings you work in, your share of the factories that make the consumer goods that you use - all these materials have to be extracted from your 150 metres square patch.
Further, all the pollution and habitat destruction and erosion that you are responsible for when you buy consumer products and services all has to happen to your small patch. All the exhaust gases from your car and central heating... etc etc and finally all the waste material that you throw away and the waste material generated in goods manufacture all has to find a final resting place in your patch.
Think about these figures – they are easy to check with a calculator. They should be taught in all schools so that people can get a sense of proportion of just how crowded Earth really is. All you have to do is research what the surface area of Earth is. 70% of this is ocean so work out 30% of this area then divide it by 6.5 billion people – simples!
When you have done this, never ever again believe anyone if they tell you that humans have an insignificant effect on our planet and that we cannot be altering the climate at an unprecedented rate.