Climate Intelligence? - Or Climate Spin? ( Pushing back at the Climate Change Denialists)
You might think with temperature records being broken every day and other recent extreme weather events that nearly everyone would accept the reality of climate change. But this isn’t the case. There are still doubters who think that climate change might be happening but it can’t be proven that human activities are responsible.
If the current climate events are completely natural then we can’t do anything about it. But if our activities, such as pumping over 40 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, are a factor, then we can. This is the anthropogenic (human impacted) model of climate change.
Last week someone made me to look at an online article with the title ‘1,200 Scientists and Professionals Declare - There is No Climate Emergency’. This ‘declaration’ was on a website called Climate Intelligence (CLINTEL) and it tells us there’s nothing to worry about: there is no climate emergency. Twenty-two NZ ‘scientists and professionals’ have signed the declaration so far, I decided to have a look at them.
The first thing I discovered was that only two signees seemed to have any solid qualifications in the field. One was Dr. John Maunder, a retired climate scientist, former President of the World Meteorological Commission for Climatology and author of a number of books on the subject. Like some of the other signees he accepted climate change was real but rejected the anthropogenic model.
Of the other twenty, only seven had any obvious scientific qualifications and only one was still working. The others were all retired. Studies have found it’s usually retired, rather than working scientists, who are skeptical.
Scientists are also specialists. Just because you’re a trained expert with a PhD in agriculture or geology it doesn’t mean you know anything about climate science. It’s a bit like asking a plumber to critique the work of a builder – they’re both professionals but they work in very different fields.
The remainder of the signees are a lawyer, a builder, a structural engineer and seemingly a bunch of anti-climate change bloggers. Some of the signees have connections with the agricultural industry (which produces almost half our CO2 emissions) and one (the lawyer) stood for the ACT party in 2011 and was also a former director of Petrocorp.
After looking at the people who’d signed the declaration I looked at the CLINTEL website itself.
This was launched in the Netherlands in 2019 with funding from Niek Sandmann, a multimillionaire real estate developer. The group’s co-founder Guus Berkhout, is an engineering professor who began his career at Shell and worked for the oil and gas industry.
CLINTEL’s organising group includes the New Zealander Terence Dunleavy who was one of the founders of The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition in 2006. This group came to prominence in 2010 when it challenged the methodology and accuracy of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research’s (NIWA) historical temperature records in court. It lost the case, was forced into liquidation and changed its name to the International Climate Science Coalition or DeSmog.
So, how many scientists do support the idea of anthropogenic climate change?
Two studies, the first by Naomi Oreskes (2004) a Havard University Professor and the second (2013) by a group of authors led by John Cook, who works for the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland analysed a large number of recent scientific papers using the keywords ‘global climate change’ and found that around 97% of scientists were convinced that human are at least partly responsible for causing climate change. Cook was careful to describe his 2013 study results as being based on the results of climate experts.
A more recent article published in Forbes (2018) found that most studies including specialties other than climatologists found support in the range of 80% to 90%.
This is still a very strong consensus and despite CLINTEL’s spin it’s clear a large majority of scientists not only believe that climate change is real but also that human beings are a large part of the cause.