Question: What do the advertisers of Wesson Oil and Climate Change activists have in common?
Answer: Both have provided accurate but misleading information.
Wesson Oil once advertised that it didn’t soak through food, which is an accurate statement as far as it goes, because the reality is that no cooking oils soak through food if operated at given temperatures. If, however, higher temperatures are used, all cooking oils, including Wesson will soak through your dinner. What the potential consumer was dealing with was implication versus fact, and in much the same way, climate science also suffers from this Wesson Oil scenario; far too often climate activists focus on persuading rather than informing by withholding essential context.
The potential impact of a changing climate plays right into the left’s wheelhouse because it engenders passion & emotion while abandoning reasoned discourse and fact. Meanwhile, many argue there’s no harm in a bit of misinformation if it helps “save the planet.”
On the one hand scientists are ethically bound to the scientific method, i.e., promising to tell the truth and nothing but including their doubts, caveats, ifs, ands and buts. But climate scientists are residents of the planet too, and most would like to leave it a better place. And to do that, they need broad support to capture the public’s imagination.
But capturing the public’s imagination requires a lot of sensationalized media coverage, which leads to illustrating or depicting scary scenarios about the future and, overly-simplified dramatic statements, sans any tempering caveats, such as…
- “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.”—Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace
- “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in term of economic and environmental policy.”—Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation
- “Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naïve.”—Daniel Botkin, Former Chair of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
~ Scary Predictions that didn’t come to pass~
- “By the turn of the century, an ecological catastrophe which will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust”—Mostafa Tolba, Former Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program – 1982
- “Within a few years winter snowfall in the UK will become a very rare and exciting event. Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.—David Viner, Senior Research Scientist and expert reviewer for the International Panel on Climate Change, 2000.
- “European cities will be plunged beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a Siberian climate by 2020.”—Mark Townsend & Paul Harris quoting a Pentagon report in the Guardian, 2004.
It is the epitome of human hubris for scientists to even consider deliberately misinforming policy discussions in service of what they deem ethical. Imagine the outcry from the left if a group of Christian doctors began misrepresenting data about birth control for “ethical or moral” reasons?
Like judges, scientists must put their personal feelings and beliefs aside when discussing or reporting on climate. And when they fail to do so, which is frequent, what they’re really doing is usurping the public’s right to make informed choices while at the same time undermining confidence in climate science itself. Consider, can we even calculate the damage to honest debate Nancy Pelosi’s infamous statement, “The science is settled” caused? To quote Steven Koonin, Obama’s former under-secretary for science at the Department of Energy, “There’s nothing at all wrong with scientists or politicians as activists, but activism masquerading as science is pernicious.”
Climate and energy are complex and nuanced subjects, and simplistic pronouncements will not result in wise choices. But before spending trillions on what remains theory, the climate activists need to supply the world with more than Greta Thunberg shouting “How dare you!”
I’ve long felt the biggest problem with the climate debate is the lack of metrics. As an example, Joe Biden says he’s going to eliminate 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Ok, that’s a noble goal, but then what? How long before we saw measurable results, one year, five years, fifty, and how much would that reduce the earth’s temperature – one degree, a half a degree, a tenth of a degree? And therein lies the problem, no one can answer those questions because “science” doesn’t understand the matter well enough to do so.
The sad reality is until we have verifiable metrics all else will continue to speculation sprinkled with liberal amounts of bumper-sticker slogans and gross exaggerations.
Question of the day: “If Barack Obama actually believed what he preaches about climate change and rising sea levels, why do you suppose he built two multi-million-dollar seaside homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Oahu’s eastern shore?