Climate Change Deniers, Stephen Hawking and Quantum Physics

Nothing annoys me more than the persistent denial of climate science by some whilst they freely use the means of communication that science has given us to promote their propaganda. One wonders if these people ever consider the contradictions this involves. Most of modern western society is based on science including medicine. Without the medical advances of the last 200 years many of our lives would have been short and brutal. (see here)

Recently whilst reading a biography Stephen Hawking: a life of science by Michael White and John Gribbin (BCA/Penguin 1992) I was struck by an early passage in the ‘Classical Cosmology’ chapter explaining quantum physics. In particular I noted how important the science of quantum physics was to things in everyday modern life we take for granted. Most of this White and Gribbin stated “we can safely leave the physicists to worry about” but noted that “it is worth realizing that the physics behind how a computer or TV works depends on an understanding of the quantum behaviour of electrons. Laser beams, also, can be understood only in terms of quantum physics, and every compact disk player uses a laser beam to scan the disk and ‘read’ the music. So quantum physics actually does impinge on our everyday lives…” (p.38)

Thus we have a bizarre situation where computers are the main avenue of communication on which climate deniers either deny or dispute the science of climate change but without quantum physics the computer could not exist. There is a certain irony here and it is a clear illustration of how you cannot choose the science. One wonders where would the climate deniers on the social media be without their computers and smartphones? Making the time and effort to pen a ‘letter to the editor’ of the ‘Daily Blurb’? Perhaps.

Sometime ago I blogged on some facetious comments Hawking had made about climate change deniers . Commenting on the runaway global warming that has occurred on planet Venus he said “‘This is what happens when greenhouse gases are out of control’… implying that our own planet could also meet the same fiery fate. He then amusingly quipped, ‘Next time you meet a climate-change denier, tell them to take a trip to Venus; I will pay the fare.’”

Hawking is no longer with us (he died last year) but his work, and the absurdity of being able to select the science you like and denying or even opposing some aspect you don’t like, remains. The lessons are there in history from King Canute to Stephen Hawking. The climate deniers just have to open their eyes or as Greta Thunberg says “listen to the scientists”. But we won’t hold our breath waiting.