I no longer reply to the climate change deniers that regularly contribute their falsehoods to the letters column of the Bairnsdale Advertiser. It would be a complete waste of time. After all they are in a way representative of a highly conservative and scientifically illiterate local population. Their letters follow a well-worn path and have been appearing in this column for many years. The crucial facts they repeat ad nauseum are invariably cherry picked. One tell-tale sign is the use of the year 1998 (where they use limited HadCRUT temperature figures) as the ‘holy-grail’ to prove the earth’s climate has not got any warmer since, or even better, cooled. The fact that every year this century, except one, has been warmer is ignored or denied.
The denialists also ignore or disregard information from leading scientific bodies around the world such as NASA and the Royal Society, and in Australia such as the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. They ignore the overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources that support the statement made by more than 97% of the earth’s climate scientists that the earth is warming at an alarming rate and that the humans are the cause of that warming. I suspect that 97% is a conservative number and the real figure much closer to 99%. Who but the deluded would choose to back this miniscule minority with their aggressive letters to the editor.
The denialists instead choose supporting evidence from obscure websites and repeat various standard arguments, all refutable and some contradictory, and flirt with the most outrageous and absurd conspiracy theories. Their failure to critically evaluate their sources of information is legend. This plethora of misinformation and lies on climate abounds on the internet and is encouraged by similar attitudes and ignorance in both the mainstream media and reactionary and conservative politicians. It is fuelled and funded by some of the wealthiest companies on earth whose defence of their vested interests is Machiavellian and almost certainly criminally negligent.
Finally their failure to understand basic physics, or ignorance thereof, is evident. The greenhouse effect, and the identity of the greenhouse gases, has been established for 150 years. The physics clearly indicates that as greenhouse gases are increased the earth’s temperature will rise. The amount of the main greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide – in the atmosphere has been accurately measured for 60 years and has been increasing steadily all that time. The predictions of CSIRO scientists in the 1980s including warming oceans, retreating ice, longer fire seasons and more severe extreme weather events such as heatwaves, are all being realised now.
For many years I have repeated the Nortonian adage “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” It is more relevant now than ever and with every year of inaction, or insufficient action on climate, the ‘worst case scenarios’ – that threaten the survival of humanity itself – loom large.