Who is more scientific? Climate change number crunching time..

Here, in the days when news are out that the North Pole has turned into a lake, it is hard to argue that the climate has not changed. Yet, there is still a myriad of books and articles being published, claiming the opposite – or when acknowledging that the climate has changed, denying the human influence on the matter.

When pitted one against the other, it can be difficult to ascertain who is more or less right. Glossy front pages, powerful argumentation and resourceful backing all serve to confuse and confound.

This article, published in the peer reviewed journal American Behavioural Scientist, is written by two sociology professors at Oklahoma State University and University of Central Florida. It is titled “Climate Change denial books and Conservative Think Tanks – Exploring the connection”, and among other things, reaches the staggering conclusion that 90% of climate change denial books do not undergo peer review. Now, considering that 97% of peer reviewed climate science papers argue that Climate Change is man made, it would appear that climate change deniers are not overwhelmingly scientific. Now, this is quite scary, when, as mentioned in the article: “authors of successful books critiquing climate science often come to be viewed as “climate experts,” regardless of their academic backgrounds or scientific credentials, and despite the fact that their books are seldom peer reviewed”.

Furthermore, as the title reveals, the article examines the relationship between Climate Change denial books and Conservative Think Tanks (CTT’s). It also looks at the author(s)’ educational credentials and national backgrounds. It does so by reviewing 108 English-language ISBN-coded books, published between 1982 and 2010, which in some form or other “reject evidence that global warming is occurring, that human actions are the predominant cause of global warming, and/or that global warming will have negative impacts on human and natural systems”. The authors conclude that the connection to CTT’s is strong, with 72% of all books being connected either via the publisher or easily verifiable links to the author.

Source: The Guardian via Greenpeace

Source: The Guardian via Greenpeace

The above figure shows how vast sums of money is being channeled from big fossil fuel corporations into climate denial groups. According to the article, the fossil fuel industry as well as other industries and conservative groups have a vested interest in keeping the public confused: “Their major tactic was and continues to be manufacturing uncertainty (…), constantly asserting that the evidence is not sufficient to warrant regulatory action”.

James Hansen’s Storms of my Grandchildren raises similar concerns. This book describes climate science in great detail, presented in a straightforward manner, facilitating a deeper understanding for those without a scientific background. The book portrays the personal struggle of a climate scientist, to be heard by the government administration and general public. When heard, he expresses concern about the uncertainty/confusion tactics employed by the climate change deniers – while research is clear that action needs to be taken, climate change deniers focus on creating uncertainty around what actions need to be taken and what the exact impact of Co2 and other gases are, thereby muddling policy efforts enough to maintain status quo.

It does appear that those denying the impacts of climate change are less scientific overall than those who advocate policy changes – but because they are backed by huge corporations (even “green” Google“) and think tanks, they still take up a lot of media space. Read the article mentioned above if you’re interested in exploring the connections further 🙂

Image source: RTCC, Paul Chappatte (First Published: World Meteorological Organisation Calendar)

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