Climate denier scientists think these 5 arguments will persuade EU and UN leaders

As reported by DeSmogUK, in an effort to derail European Union climate policies and international climate negotiations, hundreds of climate denier scientists have drafted a letter to be sent to leaders of EU and UN institutions. The letter outlines their case for why climate change isn’t an emergency, but it simply reheats several old and stale climate myths.

Although the letter is unlikely to achieve its goal of derailing climate negotiations and policies, since it represents the best case that climate deniers can make against the existence of a climate crisis, it’s worth examining the arguments therein.

Yes, humans are causing global warming

The first argument in the letter asserts that current global warming “is to be expected from the cyclic behavior of the climate system.”

No evidence is provided to support this claim or any other in the letter. In fact, the letter doesn’t even specify which cycle is purportedly responsible for the current global warming. That’s undoubtedly because there isn’t one. Earth’s temperatures are currently warming 20 to 50 times faster than when the planet exits an ice age, for example. No natural cycle can account for the current rapid global warming.

This is not a scientific argument; it’s just hand-waiving and magical thinking that climate scientists ruled out long ago.

Carbon pollution is harmful

The second point in the letter combines two myths:

“There is no proof that anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are the major cause of global warming. There is also no scientific evidence that anthropogenic CO2 emissions have a detrimental effect on the quality of life.”

The use of the word “proof” here is a red flag. Science doesn’t operate by proofs; it operates by evidence, and there is overwhelming evidence that carbon pollution is the major cause of global warming. In fact, NASA climate scientists published a study in the prestigious journal Science in 2010 entitled “Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature.” The latest IPCC report concluded with 95% confidence that humans are responsible for most global warming since 1950, and most likely responsible for all of it.

There is also overwhelming scientific evidence that carbon pollution has a detrimental effect on the quality of life through its amplification of extreme weather events like droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, floods, and hurricanes.

Climate models have been remarkably accurate

The third point in the letter argues,

“climate models have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools … they substantially overestimate the recent temperature increase.”

As I demonstrated in my book and in the video below, temperature predictions made by mainstream climate models have been remarkably accurate (unlike those made by deniers). Climate models are certainly among the scientific tools useful for policymaking, although we have enough evidence about the climate change risks we’re already experiencing even setting climate models aside.

Global warming is amplifying extreme weather

The fourth point in the letter begins by denying that carbon pollution is intensifying extreme weather events, and ends with bizarre claims that efforts to curb carbon pollution are detrimental:

“There is also no scientific evidence that higher CO2 levels are intensifying natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and droughts, or making them more frequent. On the other hand, there are many indications that most CO2-mitigation measures in use today have a devastating effect on wildlife (e.g. by wind turbines) and land use (e.g. forest clearance).”

The first claim here is indisputably false. A recent IPCC special report concluded with high confidence that “The frequency and intensity of some extreme weather and climate events have increased as a consequence of global warming and will continue to increase under medium and high emission scenarios,” including droughts and floods. Research has also shown that hotter ocean waters are intensifying the strongest hurricanes.

The second claim is even more absurd. Most low-carbon technologies obviously don’t devastate wildlife. As for wind, a 2009 study found that fossil fuel power kills about 15 times more birds per unit of energy produced than wind turbines. A comprehensive 2014 study concluded that cats kill about 7,000 times more birds per year in the U.S. than wind turbines. And forest clearance obviously isn’t a carbon mitigation measure; reforestation is, however.

We can’t just adapt to climate change

The final point in the letter argues that rather than curbing carbon pollution, we should just adapt to the consequences of climate change:

“There is no climate emergency and therefore no cause for panic and alarm. If better approaches emerge, we will have ample time to reflect and adapt.”

This is akin to arguing that people should continue smoking cigarettes and simply adapt to the health consequences like emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer because better treatments for those diseases may eventually emerge. As any doctor will explain, mitigation (quitting smoking, or in our case, phasing out carbon pollution) must be the first step to minimize the risk of a catastrophic outcome.

The recent IPCC report showed that limiting global warming to the more ambitious 1.5°C Paris target will require nearly halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The report also provided evidence that missing this target would create serious risks of worse food and water insecurity and yet more extreme weather.

Because of the global warming we’ve already locked in, we will have to both mitigate the problem and adapt to some of its consequences. As glaciologist Lonnie Thompson famously said of climate change, “The only question is how much we will mitigate, adapt, and suffer.” The more successful we are in mitigating carbon pollution, the less we’ll be forced to adapt and suffer.

Research has also shown that unmitigated climate change is far costlier than mitigation, potentially by tens of trillions of dollars. And it’s important to look beyond dollar signs and consider the suffering variable in Lonnie Thompson’s equation. Losing one’s home and belongings or loved ones to climate-intensified extreme weather events may have an insignificant impact on the economy, but the associated trauma and suffering come at high psychological costs that are well worth trying to avoid.

In short, this letter represents climate deniers' best case for inaction, and every single claim made therein is bogus.

Posted by dana1981 on Wednesday, 11 September, 2019

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