There's No Climate Science Conspiracy, Strike Me Down If I'm Wrong
The climate scientists are right. We're causing the world to get warmer. Let me explain why we can be sure.
My name's Ant and I write about sports for a living.
One of the great things about sport is that you can't argue with the scoreboard. Once the score is up there, that's all that matters.
Another great thing about sport is its authenticity. If you're no good at it, you'll be found out. If you're a faker, you'll be out of the team in an instant. Politics is scripted. But sport really is the ultimate reality.
Science works the same way. Science also deals in reality. If your results are fake, or don't pass rigorous peer reviews -- which is the scientific equivalent of being monstered in a tackle -- your career goes nowhere.
I draw this analogy on the day of the global Climate Strike, because of the rigorous, inarguable scientific evidence that underpins Friday's protest.
For the record, I know about climate science because I have a strong interest in winter sports, which led me to become interested in weather, then climate, then climate change, then climate science. So here we are.
A couple of years ago, as an adjunct to my day job, I did a podcast series interviewing many of the world's most famous climate scientists. By profiling them as humans first, scientists second, I hoped I could make their scientific findings approachable, digestible and trustworthy.
Let me share five key things I discovered in that series.
1. All climate denialism -- absolutely all of it -- started with a cleverly orchestrated, fossil fuel industry-funded campaign
A tobacco industry executive once famously said in a memo: "doubt is our product". Climate change deniers cleverly played from the same playbook, with phrases like "the science isn't settled". Which it is.
2. The science really is settled
To be clear, the science on the EFFECTS of climate change is not set in stone. We don't know precisely how high the sea or temperatures will rise. But the CAUSES of climate change are beyond dispute. Yes, the climate has always changed. But the current dramatic upswing in global temperatures is us. All us.
Look at it this way. If there were no CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere, the world would be an uninhabitable frozen planet. These gases trap heat. The more we add, the more heat trapped. The science really is as basic, and indisputable, as the fact that boiling water turns to steam.
3. There is no scientific conspiracy
One of the people I interviewed in my series was John Cook, author of the famous paper which found a 97 percent consensus among atmospheric scientists that human activity is causing global warming.
Critics -- like former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott -- have since attacked that finding as though it was some sort of poll. As though 97 percent of scientists furiously nodded their heads in agreement in case someone de-funded their research for heresy.
But it wasn't like that at all. It was scientists across the world all coming up with the same conclusion, independent of each other. Indeed, it was pretty much the textbook opposite of a conspiracy.
4. The scientists are not in it for the money
Michael E. Mann, one of the world's best known and respected climate scientists, has a great way of debunking of the flimsy theory that the more warming a scientists discovers, the more he or she gets paid.
"In science, you get the big dollars for discovering something new," he told me. "There's no money in coming to the same conclusion as everyone else."
Another Australian climate scientists told me he'd taken a $100,00 pay cut to move from the corporate sector to academia, because he wanted to do work that mattered in this area.
There's not one scientist getting seriously rich off climate science. But plenty of fossil fuel industry folk are staying rich by debunking it. And that's just one of the reasons why people around the world are striking today.
5. There is no secret global plot to take away your dogs, your large cars, your government and your freedom
There's just a developing global crisis -- whose main effects will eventually be food and water security -- which can largely be tackled by embracing the renewable energy economy.
The good news, for those who pass this off as a "leftie" issue, is that hedging ourselves against the risk of climate catastrophe is the sensible conservative thing to do.
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