10 ways to deal with a climate change believer – the BBQ guide
I see earnest believers Rod Lamberts and Will Grant have made a pitch to the gullible this Christmas season with their 12 ways guide to dealing with a climate change ‘denier’. It seems only fitting to roast and season these turkeys – ever so gently and respectfully, of course.
Accordingly, here’s my 10-point guide to dealing with those earnest inner-city types you may encounter at holiday get-togethers, The Whole Anthropogenic-warming Types (TWAWTs)
1. They’re not evil, just wrong. Firstly, remember you are dealing with a fellow human being. Misguided, yes, but their hearts are in the right place. Focus on points we all can agree on – cleaner waterways, better care for the environment. Remind them that the focus on carbon dioxide, which has been much much higher in the past, is taking money and attention away from genuine efforts to clean the environment
2. The TWAWT generally doesn’t understand the science. In most cases you will run across this season, the climate change believer gets their knowledge of climate direct from the Herald, or TV3 News, or the ABC or similar. They will gleefully recount the latest weather porn from a Fairfax article, but will be surprised when you reveal Fairfax has a financial interest in promoting Earth Hour each year. They may recover after a moment, and cite something from the BBC in an appeal to media authority. Gently remind them that the superannuation funds of BBC journalists are invested in climate change industries like alternative energy and carbon trading.
3. They may be addicted to climate porn. It is easy to spot this type of TWAWT at the summer barbie. Spirulina or chardonnay in hand, they will loudly scoff at non-believers and point to the larger number of extreme weather events making the news as proof that the climate has gone rogue. Don’t despair. Remind them that the Draft of the latest IPCC report approved by the climate scientists found no evidence to link extreme weather events to human caused climate change. Remind them also that news media coverage of bad weather has increased as a ratio of published news stories by around 400% in the past decade. Like any kind of sexual addiction, climate porn addicts have to be handled respectfully but firmly. Ask them to cite some credible scientific studies confirming a link between extreme weather and CO2 levels, and ask them to explain why the IPCC is not convinced.
4. The ‘2014 is the hottest year’ TWAWT. You may encounter more than a few of these this summer. Gently remind them that this claim is based on notoriously unreliable thermometer readings from city weather stations, often compromised by reflected heat from black asphalt roads and the like (Urban Heat Island effect). You can then explain that the satellites measuring temperature across the entire planet (including cooler rural areas and oceans) show 2014 is nowhere even close to being a record hot year.
5. Certainty isn’t the issue. Your common or garden variety of TWAWT, relying on a news media 12-point guide, may try and steer the BBQ discussion back in his or her favour by telling everyone loudly that while we can’t be certain about climate change, we should act as if it is real just in case. This is the so-called precautionary principle. You could find some common ground here. Sea levels have been rising steadily for thousands of years as Earth goes through a warming cycle, and somewhere in the region of 12 inches of sea level rise is on the cards this century at current rates. Common sense suggests beachfront town-planning should take account of this. However, you can also remind the TWAWT that human existence is a balance of risk-analysis. The climate change industry is demanding $45 trillion in new taxes, subsidies and the like, and a huge transference of political and economic control to politicians and lobbyists associated with the climate-industrial complex. Those political and economic changes will be virtually irreversible, meaning we need to be sure before we follow Chicken Little’s advice. If someone told you there was a risk an asteroid could hit your house, and you should sell the property to them for a dollar…would you take their word for it or would you want more data?
6. The 97% consensus myth. After a couple of herbal teas, your TWAWT may begin to get aggressive at this point, and tell partygoers that you are just a ‘denier’ trying to argue against 97% of scientists. My advice is to smile sweetly, and ask the TWAWT what 97% of scientists actually agree on specifically. He/she won’t know, because the claim is actually a myth. There have been surveys, of course, but the true level of disagreement is far higher than three percent. The original consensus claim stemmed from a survey asking whether scientists agreed that the planet was warming up and that humans were making some contribution to that. Few scientists, and indeed few sceptics, would disagree with those claims. When asked whether humans are having the dominant impact, that’s where real disagreement arises. A 2009 poll of 3,146 climate scientists found nearly 20% rejected the idea that human activity was a “significant” contributor to warming. All this is irrelevant, however. Science has never been decided by a vote, but by hard evidence. As Einstein once famously said, it would only take one scientist to prove him wrong. The fact that scientists keep having to vote on whether they “believe” in climate change is more proof that it’s closer to religious belief than scientific evidence.
7. But what about the melting ice in Antarctica?? Possibly perspiring by now, your TWAWT may need some ice themselves. Tell them you understand their pain – you’ve seen the TV3 climate porn on melting Antarctic glaciers – but reassure them that mainstream news reporters are too dumb to research the facts. Ask them to name the fastest-melting glacier. If they’ve seen Adrien Taylor’s stories they’ll probably know it is Pine Island Glacier. Ask them if they know there is a chain of massive active volcanoes under the Pine Island glacier and much of West Antarctica. Explain that these volcanoes have been erupting under the ice, causing it to melt. Yes, the glaciers are melting, but it has nothing to do with CO2 and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Pass the TWAWT some more ice.
8. How come the planet is continuing to warm up then? Shake your head slowly, and remind your TWAWT that according to the comprehensive satellite data there’s been no increase in warming since 1998…despite CO2 continuing to increase. Ask them to share with the group a scientific explanation for how temperatures could stand still if CO2 continues to be emitted at record levels, and whether that suggests natural climate forces may be more powerful than CO2.
9. ‘Oh, so you’re a conspiracy theorist?’ When TWAWTs can’t argue on the evidence, they revert to name calling. By this stage of the BBQ there’s a real risk of being hit by a sausage at this point. They might ask if you believe in some kind of grand conspiracy to mislead the public about climate…to which you will respond: ‘Follow the evidence, and the money’ and read them a few quotes from leading believers talking about their agenda:
“A world government [can] only be created out of war or crisis – an emergency that provide[s] an appropriate combination of the motivations of fear and opportunity”
– Herman Kahn, Council on Foreign Relations, 1993
“We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy”
– Timothy Worth, Council on Foreign Relations, 1990
“In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill…all these dangers are caused by human intervention…the real enemy, then, is humanity itself”
– The Council of the Club of Rome, 1991
“Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced – a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision making at every level”
– Agenda 21 document
“The United Nations is the chosen instrument of God; to be a chosen instrument means to be a divine messenger carrying the banner of God’s inner vision and outer manifestation. One day, the world will…treasure and cherish the soul of the United Nations as its very own with pride, for this soul is all-loving, all-nourishing, and all-fulfilling”
– Sri Chinmoy, UN Interfaith Meditation Group
10. What about the polar bears and walruses then? This is likely to be the final plea from a now desperate TWAWT. Remind them that numerous scientific studies have shown that the more sea ice there is, the fewer polar bears survive because it is harder to dig fishing holes in thick ice. As for the walrus gathering that got the media in a frenzy a couple of months back, they happen every few decades as part of a natural cycle.
Finally, lie back and enjoy your summer BBQ, secure in the knowledge that the debate goes on…