Global warming is todayâ€™s most prevalent false controversy. The current scientific consensus is that increased temperatures over the past fifty years are caused by the increased release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the widespread burning of fossil fuels. Ice core samples from over the past 450,000 years show that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide occur at the same time as increases in global temperature. There is little doubt among scientists that we have caused the most recent rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus global temperature. But the media has been giving equal time to non-scientific skeptics and have confused the issue among the people in the United States. This confusion has sapped the political will of our leaders to take any action to stop this destructive trend, and every year that we do not take action increases the cost of reversing the damage done that our children will have to pay.
As an example of just how out of step the media consensus is with the scientific consensus; a study in the December 2004 edition of â€œScienceâ€ found that of the 928 articles about climate change published in peer reviewed scientific journals over the past ten years, not a single one disputed the idea of anthropogenic global warming. A similar study of major media articles on climate change studied 626 randomly selected articles in the same time period and found that 53% of those cast doubt upon the idea of anthropogenic global warming. Just to make sure that people understand, the methodology of these studies was disputed by a British social scientist named Benny Peiser, his work though has been discredited because the â€œconsensus breaking abstractsâ€ that he cited were in fact on papers which were testing climatology models and statistical uncertainty of climate change experiments.
How could the media be so out of touch with the scientific consensus concerning global warming as to openly question its validity in the same breath as they report empirical evidence proving it? Because the media is lobbied constantly by groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think-tank based in Washington DC that presents itself as an advocate for â€œsound scienceâ€. The fact is though that CEI is a well funded, media savvy, PR front group for Exxon-Mobile (which has reported giving the think-tank over $2 million between 1998 and 2005). CEI has most recently begun an ad campaign advocating for carbon dioxide emissions with the almost Swiftian tag line â€œCarbon Dioxide, they call it pollution, we call it lifeâ€. It should be noted that carbon dioxide is classified as a narcotic poison and in concentrations above 8% by volume causes hypercapnia and death in human beings.
The scientific community does not have media consultants, public opinion pollsters, or professional spokespeople to present the fifty years of data that has been collected which points to an alarmingly rapid warming trend in the worldâ€™s climate. The scientific community is not a large business with deep pockets and it does not have well heeled supporters donating large sums of cash to assist it in raising the warning flags about the anthropogenic source of the warming trend. In fact the scientists who are making the most money in climatology studies are the small few who are publicly voicing skepticism about the anthropogenic source of global warming. Drs. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have presented a hypothesis that variations in solar intensity may be triggering global warming, but they do not presently have observational data proving their claim. Dr. Tim Patterson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Ottawa has evidence showing that a period of ice age activity 450 million years ago had carbon dioxide levels ten times that of today to claim that the gas has no effect on global temperatures. The issue with his evidence is that the period he is measuring from is known as the Ordovician extinction, the second most devastating mass extinction in Earthâ€™s history. And while the Ordovician period did have very high carbon dioxide levels and temperatures, at the end of the period there was an unexplained drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the a sudden freezing of the super continent of Gondwana, plunging the planet into one of its most dramatic ice age.
Other than skepticism over anthropogenic Global Warming these three scientists, have another less honorable thing in common, they are all contributors for a non-peer reviewed journal called Tech Central Station (TCS), which is published by DCI Group. DCI Group is a Republican lobbying group which specializes in creating astroturf organizations (false grassroots organizations created through mass mailing schemes). TCS is a satellite operation of DCI which generates scientific articles to order for paying clients to further that clientâ€™s agenda. One of DCI major clients is none other than Exxon Mobile. DCI and TCS are only part of a network of organizations (which include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C Marshall Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and many others) that receive money for Exxon Mobile and distribute it to scientists in the US, Canada, and UK who are willing to openly deny Global Warming. Exxon Mobile gives almost $5 million a year to these organizations to make sure that there is always a choir of doubters, because they predict that they have the most to lose if the major industrialized nations start to move away from greenhouse gas producing fuels and technologies in favor of cleaner alternatives.
These media outlets that exist just for the purpose of spreading misinformation also disseminate misquotes of real scientific studies. For instance there is a quote that has been floating around recently concerning glacier melt in Greenland. The quote has been used to suggest that counter to global warming, inland glaciers in Greenland are thickening instead of melting as would be suggested by global warming. The full study though shows that the thickening ice in the center of the island is actually a sign of the effects of global warming. What is occurring is that lakes are forming on the surface of the glaciers, collecting energy and melting the ice underneath them further. The water in these lakes drill holes through the glacier down to the bed rock and refreeze at the bottom, filling the crevices and cracks that exist at the bottom of the glacier, thus causing the glacier to thicken. The ice at the coasts of Greenland though is rapidly becoming thinner because of the same mechanism carries the melt water out from under the glaciers into the sea.
Global Warming is happening, and it is because of human activityâ€¦ of this there is no doubt. There are means by which we can slow or even reverse the growing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Changing the atmosphere of the entire planet may seem like a daunting task, but the fact is we did it accidentally before. And as proven by the shrinking ozone hole over the Antarctic we have the capability of undoing past mistakes. We have just as much power of turning from our current path as we did with the shrinking ozone layer a little over ten years ago, we just need to summon up the will to act.