Authored by Sherelle Jacobs, Daily Telegraph columnist
I was always a 'middle-grounder', rather than a 'denier' – until I discovered the extent of the dishonesty
The climate change “emergency” is fake news. Many will roll their eyes in exasperation at the conspiratorial bombastry of yet another “denier”. But for years I have been a plastic recycling, polar bear cooing middle-grounder. In fact, Aristotle would probably turn in his grave at the logical fallaciousness of my long-held presumption that the truth must lie somewhere between those two mutually loathing opposites – Scepticism and Armageddon.
But as the doom-mongering acquires the rubber-stamped smell of instutionalised illness, it is impossible to ignore that the “woke” are the new “slept” – too deep in their sugar coma of confected hysteria to realise they are being duped by disinformation.
Before I explain why the climate “emergency” is the most electrifyingly effective propaganda exercise of the 21st century, two clarifications. I have no fight to pick with glaring evidential realities: surface records clearly show the planet is getting warmer. Nor do I have a culture war-bloodied axe to grind with the fundamental chemistry: carbon dioxide indisputably contributes to the greenhouse effect. But I do take issue with how the mainstream debate has become an insult to both the public’s intelligence and basic science.
This was clearer than ever two weeks ago, as bureaucratic catastrophists kicked up dystopian dust-clouds on their way into the UN Madrid climate change summit. As Greta Thunberg arrived by yacht (after her British skipper likely clocked up 3 tonnes of carbon emissions flying to the US to pick her up), UN Secretary General António Guterres rumbled that, over the horizon, he could see “the point of no return”. Delegates waved the UN’s latest Emissions Gap Report as if it were both a millenarian death oracle and a methodologically indisputable text; in it, the recommendation to cut emissions by at least 7.6 per cent per year for the next decade.
One can’t help but feel that we have heard such curiously precise warnings before. Last year the UN warned that we had just 12 years to save the planet. Scientists have since revised this to approximately 18 months. Or perhaps it is already too late. The experts don’t seem quite sure.
Indeed, the distinction between present and future seems to be fading to discardable subtlety. Take the study which has gone viral in recent days for claiming that parts of the world have either already reached – or are inching towards –“tipping point”, whereby the planet becomes caught in destructive feedback loops. Are we already doomed, or nearly doomed, or nearly already doomed? More is the mystery.
Claims such as these are projections, but they are routinely presented to the public as unquestionable facts. This effectively reduces them to fake news. Even more so, given that the accuracy of the climate modelling upon which these figures and scenarios rely is contested, and the climate does not change in a straight line.
To take one example, the UN’s international climate change body, the IPCC, said in 2007 that temperatures had risen by 0.2C per decade between 1990-2005 and used that figure for its 20-year projection. Inconveniently, warming turned out to have been just 0.05C per decade over the 15 years to 2012.
The IPCC acknowledges the uncertainty of the computations it champions; hence the disclaimer squirreled away on its website stating that it does not guarantee the accuracy of the information it contains. A caveat lost in translation at the resplendently funereal press conferences.
This post-truth scam is having a chilling effect on science. Experts are locked in a race to the bottom to make detailed and disastrous premonitions. And despite the fact that disciplined debate is the motor of scientific discovery, eco-extremists are shutting down discussions that dissent from the Apocalypse narrative. CO2 emissions may not be the only reason for warming. So sidelining studies that have, for example, found the natural climate system can suddenly shift, and ridiculing researchers who explore other possible variables – from solar changes to volcanoes – could be driving us further from the truth.
Laymen like me sense that something is amiss, because we grew up assuming science is more about possibility than limitations. But so it goes that, in this messed-up world, the optimists have become sceptics; and those unradicalised by global warming delirium, the extremists.