Conspiracy Theories

One would think that this particular argument has long passed its expiry date. But, theories manifested by conspiracists are continuously consumed. This branch of pseudoscience corrupts the mind with absurd claims such as “climate change is a plot to get rid of the human race.” This particular theory was derived by author Alan Caruba, who slammed environmentalists as corrupt beings with the aim of diminishing human life on earth. A highly well-known theory is that publicised by none other than US Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump…

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Another is the idea that we are entering a phase of global cooling. In this case, dismissing and downplaying the reality of global warming. This further reinforces the importance of understanding the difference between weather and climate. Weather fluctuations occur on a daily basis. Climate studies centre on long-term trends. That is changes in the climate over a long period of time. So, climate change does not solely refer to warmer weather, although there is an innumerable amount of evidence that signifies overall warming of the planet. To counter this theory, there is simply no credible data or climate scientist that would make such a bizarre claim.

It is also important to be mindful of certain social media accounts that will claim to be spreading climate truth. The reality of pages such as Climate Truth Now is the furthest thing from a Twitter page filled with factual information. It rapidly disseminates tweets that are contradictory to “climate truth”. The account is really a counter account with twisted scientific articles. This is very important because what often happens when people get involved in thinking about climate change is that they are lured into one of these kinds of accounts and this immediately creates what the denial people want, that is a climate of doubt around global warming. Do not be deceived by the green images  and quotes.

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In Australia, One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts is insistent on natural causes as the only reason for climate change. Overwhelming criticism by the scientific community as well as fellow politicians has had no effect on his cause. He claims, “Nature alone determines levels of CO2 in air,” as 30 billion tonnes of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere by humans alone. He also points to conspiracy theories that position the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology as “corrupt accomplices in climate conspiracy driven by the United Nations”. This essentially reinforces how important your voice is. At this point in time, we simply cannot afford to have denialists in positions of power.

You can view Malcolm Roberts in denial action here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxEGHW6Lbu8

Cherry Picking

This will be a continuation of a previous post. We explained what pseudoscience is and why it lures people into accepting misleading information. But, how can you be more accurately aware of its presence? What are some of the characteristics that define pseudoscientific claims? We’re here to break it down for you.

  1. Cherry Picking 

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Media outlets have a tendency to cherry pick facts to report on. One scientific paper will be solely focused on, whilst the rest of the peer-reviewed research is completely disregarded. Viewers are intentionally not given the “full picture” needed to understand a certain topic’s complexities. Rather, the viewer is handed information the media thinks they ought to know. Which is a real problem because it’s usually given out of context. The Climate Reality Project provides an excellent example below:

Let’s take this statistic that’s often cited out of context: “The global mean temperature was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit in 1998 (14.6 degrees Celsius) according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 2012, it was 58.2 degrees (14.56 Celsius).”

The obvious conclusion here is that global warming stalled or even stopped during this period. And if you look at changing temperatures in just these 14 years, it does look like they rose at a slower rate than they did over the longer period from 1951—2012. But remember, 1998 was an unusually hot year, which skews the analysis. The bottom line: global warming didn’t stop between 1998—2012.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this, it’s that the full set of data and context are absolutely crucial to accurate citations of climate statistics. This is the bread and butter of understanding climate change reporting.

In another example, Business Insider looked at a set of papers that undermine human impact on the changing climate. They found that the papers that were often cited by media outlets had in fact been leaving out a large amount of climate data. In fact, one paper completely disregarded 6,000 years’ worth of data. Why? Simply because the information did not correspond with their own idea that the lunar and solar cycle are the main causes of climate change. Cherry picking is the leading cause driving the denialist movement because it professionally deceives people into believing inaccurate theories.

Stay tuned for our next post on conspiracy theories.

Historical Agreement To Reduce HFCs

Climate change progress has just gained increased momentum. Beginning in 2019, the most affluent countries and economies, including the United States and the European Union, will decrease their usage of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The agreement stems from the Montreal Protocol. It is under this treaty that over 140 countries signed the Kigali Amendment, which is the deal that will aim to phase down the global warming pollutants. 

In the words of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who extensively aided in the formation of the deal, “It’s a monumental step forward, that addresses the needs of individual nations but it will give us the opportunity to reduce the warming of the planet by an entire half a degree centigrade”.

NRDC recently reported “a new analysis by Dr. Guus Velders and colleagues projects that the Kigali amendment will avoid nearly 90 percent of the temperature increase that HFCs could have caused.

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You’re probably thinking how great and wonderful all of this is. But, there’s also the possibility that you have never heard of Hydrofluorocarbons. Well, fear not, because we’re here to give you a quick breakdown.

HFCs are composed of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon. They are predominantly used as refrigerants. HFCs are also found in air conditioners and aerosol cans. These gases are most commonly referred to as “super greenhouse gases” because of two main reasons: we use too much of them and they have enormous potential for dramatic increases in temperature. A combination of these two factors means that the benefits of reducing other greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, could be severely undermined.

The Montreal Protocol was adopted in 1987 and put in place to preserve the ozone layer by gradually phasing out the many substances responsible for ozone depletion. Hence, the introduction of HFCs as refrigerants by the chemical industry as the protocol has now almost entirely diminished the gases predecessor, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Even though CO2 attracts most of the spotlight when it comes to reporting on greenhouse gases, HFCs are in fact 3,830 times more powerful and endure for up to 14 years.

Which is why this agreement carries such enormous significance. The world has united to collectively tackle the threat of climate change. This is a great example of major leaders taking real action on the biggest challenge to face modern society. Now, it’s up to us to spread information such as this in order to better inform the sceptics and denialists. To echo Joe Biden in 2015, denying climate change at this point is like “denying gravity”.

If we missed anything important or if you’d like to know more on a particular aspect of this post, let us know in the comments below.

Pseudoscience In The Realm Of Climate Change

Pseudoscience is basically the go to plan for politicians and persistent deniers when it comes to climate change. Utilising the concept as a tool to debunk climate scientists and raw scientific research has been at the forefront of guiding the denialist movement. This is why the mere use of the term to describe climate change is absurd. As we explained in the previous post, pseudoscience is everything real science is not. That is, a certain belief or claim is presented and promoted without any reliable scientific evidence as proof. In an attempt to extend the spotlight on false claims, discredited and non-peer reviewed research are also involved in the process. You’re probably wondering how such a ludicrous case is continually perpetuated in modern society. Well, history shows us that pseudoscience has always attempted to overshadow radical claims made by scientists, particularly in relation to the natural world.

Let us not forget that continental drift was once considered a laughing matter. German meteorologist Alfred Wegener first proposed the idea over a hundred years ago. However, in Wegener’s time, any and all concepts of geology were severely  underdeveloped.

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Science is naturally worrying for a lot of people because the scientific method enables for major discoveries. This usually means a drastic altering of our thinking process, which immediately comes across as slightly threatening to some people. Human beings inherently detest inconvenience, which is a side effect of change. The reality of climate change is that we have to change our regular, routinised habits. This is what it means to effectively act on climate. Denying climate change, on the other hand, is far more convenient both in a physical and emotional sense. It can be draining to consistently worry and think about the issue. It’s also a real struggle for others to make living adjustments according to what is more environmentally friendly. Hence, the ease of listening to the pseudoscience side of things is far more attractive than being told to give up meat for instance. It’s very easy to see why pseudoscience advances the state of denial in relation to climate change.

“I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive”. – Carl Sagan.

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http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/index.shtml

A Standard Case Of Denial

In the past, you may have found climate change Denialism rather humorous. Hearing older family members scoff at news reports on climate change may not have bothered you too much. In fact, you might have tended to agree with their stance. Famed psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky penned an intriguing article on why the human mind will choose to reject the science of climate change. He also has an eye-opening explanation to general denialists. He points out the impact “identity-protective cognition” can have on one’s ability to happily engage with the issue of climate change. It involves resistance to change due to long-held practices and ideals.

Climate change is an issue that requires both mental and physical change, which is a rather difficult thing to ask of people. However, from personal experience, one can choose to accept the fact that climate change exists but not do anything about it. For example, we have asked friends and family why they don’t install solar panels. They reply with the fact that they are rather costly. Instead, the money that can be used for solar panels will be spent on a trip to the mall. This is how we view the workings of denialists. They are not necessarily focusing on conspiracies or myths. Rather, they have done well to tone down the urgency and necessity to have all people engaged and actively aware of its threat. Which is why effective communication and media correspondence is essential to gaining and spreading awareness of the issue. 

Lewandowsky goes on to concisely explain what it means to deny climate change:

“Climate denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political or psychological reasons.”

Of course, expert deniers will continue to say things like the pseudo-scientific goose chases associated with man-made global warming hurt legitimate science. 

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Now, if you’re wondering what on earth pseudoscience is, it falsely presents non-scientific claims as scientific. Non-scientific claims arise out of the basic rejection of the scientific method. That is, no actual scientific observations, experiments, or the recording of data took place. In this case, climate change deniers will take their firm beliefs and simply run with it under the guise of “science”.

However, climate change denial as a form of pseudoscience is a vast topic which we will be covering in depth in a later post, so stay tuned.

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