Climate change deniers are almost extinct

David
David Suzuki
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Most North Americans know that human-caused global warming is real, even if political leaders don’t always reflect or act on that knowledge.

According to a recent poll, only two per cent of Canadians reject the overwhelming scientific evidence that Earth is warming at alarming rates — a figure that may seem surprising given the volume of nonsense deniers (many of them funded by the fossil fuel industry) spread through letters to the editor, blogs, radio call-ins, and website comments.

Polling indicates more deniers live in the U.S., but they still make up just 15 per cent of that population.

It’s getting harder to ignore the evidence: record high worldwide temperatures; increasing extreme weather events; devastating droughts, floods, and wildfires; animal and plant species turning up where they’ve never been found before; record ice loss in the Arctic and Greenland; melting glaciers… The trends are exactly as climate scientists predicted.

Meanwhile, one of the few “skeptic” climate scientists, Richard Muller, recently reversed his thinking. Muller and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, studied climate data dating back to 1753, then looked at possible causes of the unusual warming observed since the mid-1950s. (Ironically, the study was funded in part by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, founded by climate change skeptics with heavy interests in the fossil fuel industry.)

Their conclusion? It’s not the sun. It’s not volcanoes. The most likely cause is humans spewing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, mainly by burning fossil fuels. This isn’t news to most climate scientists.

As evidence builds, deniers are starting to change their tune. They once said global warming isn’t happening, and some claimed the world is actually cooling. Now, heat records are being broken worldwide — this past decade was the hottest on record. Many scientists say the situation is even more severe than first thought, with temperatures and impacts increasing faster than predicted.

Faced with the evidence, many deniers have started to admit that global warming is real, but argue that humans have little or nothing to do with it. Muller’s study was just one of many to demolish that theory.

Our climate has always changed, and natural variation is part of that. But scientists have long known that carbon dioxide and other gases trap heat in the atmosphere.

Recent warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate that corresponds to burning fossil fuels. According to NASA, global average temperatures have been rising significantly since the 1970s, “with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” North America just experienced the hottest July on record, and the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest, on average, in more than 100 years.

This evidence has caused some deniers to change their tune again. Yes, the Earth is warming, they say, but whether it’s from natural or human causes, we can’t do anything about it, so we might as well continue with business as usual, maybe employing technological fixes to help us adapt.

There’s also a subset of deniers who see some nefarious conspiracy in climate science and “Agenda 21” (a nonbinding, voluntary UN agreement on sustainable development) to impose a world government or something, but their irrational arguments aren’t worth the time of day.

The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels. We also know solutions lie in energy conservation, shifting to renewable sources, and changing our patterns of energy and fuel use, for example, by improving public transit and moving away from personal vehicles.

Scientists have been warning about global warming for decades. It’s too late to stop it now, but we can lessen its severity and impacts.

The side benefits are numerous: less pollution and environmental destruction, better human health, stronger and more diversified economies, and a likely reduction in global conflicts fuelled by the rapacious drive to exploit finite resources.

We can all work to reduce our individual impacts. But we must also convince our political and business leaders that it’s time to put people — especially our children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come — before profits.

Organizations: University of California, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, NASA UN

Geographic location: U.S., Arctic, Greenland Berkeley North America

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  • Mazee
    August 28, 2012 - 08:38

    After reading the article & comments, I think George B is correct. It's seems that Mr. B knows his stuff.

  • george p b
    August 27, 2012 - 15:34

    Deny, deny, find data to support whatever you wish. But, it's a fact that Increased Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have no effect on INCOMING radiant energy from the sun. However, it's also a fact that Increased Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere block OUTGOING radiant energy from the earth to outer space. Thus this trapping of heat has to do with the laws of thermodynamics & the nature of radiant heat transfer....NO POLITICIANS CAN MAKE LAWS THAT INVALIDATE OR REPEAL THE LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS....

  • Mike Haseler
    August 27, 2012 - 10:16

    Most sensible people no longer bother with idiots who talk about "deniers". As the old joke goes there are 10 types of people - those that understand binary and those that don't (10 is binary for 2). Likewise there are two types of people: those that understand climate change and those who show their ignorance by talking of "deniers".

  • Floris Koot
    August 27, 2012 - 03:53

    As many put it in between lines, we must see that Global Warming is not the problem. It is the result of our behavior. Therefore indeed we need to address the attitudes, games that cause it, rather than only focus on solving this effect, with the hope we don't need to adjust and change our lives. We do. We all do. The behavior that causes is democratic politicians blind for the bigger picture because it will cost votes, companies and share holders demanding profits, and all (well most of us) not (yet) willing to adjust our behavior, voting and ideas about what is most urgent now, because it seems to big and (still) far off. We tend to rather withdraw and hope politics and companies will come to their senses (hahahaha). Most big companies are like cancer, striving for unlimited growth, eagerly diving into the new hugely expanding markets in India, China, Brasil and thus adding to the problem big time. Who's willing to be the doctor? Who dares to operate on their own lives and that of others? And do some heavy behavioral therapy and cutting our fixation on stuff out?

  • David Nutzuki
    August 26, 2012 - 23:56

    President Romney says thanks for fear mongering your own voting base over to the neocon’s side with your CO2 death threats to the voter’s children. Nice job girls. Climate change was your Iraq War and welcome to the club. Bush admires your fear mongering by the way. -Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations. -Socialist Canada killed Kyoto with a newly elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death). -Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier. -Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses. Science has never said a crisis “WILL” happen, only that it is “likely” and it’s been 26 years with millions of studies on effects, rarely causes of an assumed to be real crisis that couldn’t be proven or disproven anyways. Do you see the scientists acting like they condemned their own beloved children as well as ours to the greenhouse gas ovens of climate change crisis? An exaggerated crisis is no longer a crisis and real planet lovers are happy a crisis was avoided for whatever reason.

  • steve
    August 26, 2012 - 20:23

    Its simple Climate change = world wide communism by stealth. Climate change is the biggest scam ever perpetrated by systemic subversion of democracy on a global scale. If deniers reject climate change, then those who support it should be called Collaborators, with all the stigma that goes with that label.

  • Philip Haddad
    August 26, 2012 - 07:17

    The heat emitted by the use of fossil fuels (and nuclear power as well) is the cause of global warming, not the CO2 by-product. For example in 2008 16 terrawatts of energy was consumed and converted to heat. This amount of heat could potentially raise the atmospheric temperature by 0.17*F. Actual measured rise was one-fourth that due to the cooling effects of glacial melting and photosynthesis. Every pound of CO2 converted to trees removes 5000 btus from the environment. It is this cooling that makes it useful, not simply the removal of CO2. Artificial sequestration of CO2 is wasteful and counter-productive.

  • DM
    August 26, 2012 - 00:13

    21 Truths About Agenda 21 & Sustainable Development 1) From the largest metropolitan cities to the smallest towns of Main Street America, communities all across our nation are being influenced with a new political philosophy known as Sustainable Development and its primary framework for implementation called Agenda 21. 2) Agenda 21 is the global blueprint of implementation for Sustainable Development devised by the United Nations and was signed by 178 world leaders at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. 3) Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 call for a complete re-orientation of the world system of governance in every area in which human impacts on the environment. 4) Sustainable Development, like Communism or Fascism, is a doctrine or philosophy of governance complete with its own agenda, beliefs, and goals. 5) On June 29th, 1993 President Clinton signed Executive Order 12852 creating The President’s Council on Sustainable Development. This step began the full-scale implementation of Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development within the United States of America. 6) Sustainable Development is entrenched throughout our government at every level from federal, state and regional agencies to county, city and community councils and planning boards. 7) Sustainable Development or “Sustainability” is often promoted with the environmental message of “going green”, or “being a good steward” but in reality there is actually a much, much deeper political philosophy of control and governance at work. 8) Sustainable Development is a political philosophy that is built upon three pillars. These three pillars are known as the “3E’s”, or “the triple bottom line”. The three pillars of sustainable development are Ecological Integrity, Economic Prosperity and Social Equity. 9) Sustainable Development demands that the perfect balance of “the triple bottom line” be the deciding lens through which all community development, growth, and decisions are viewed. All growth which fails to achieve this perfect balance is considered unsustainable. 10) Communities are being drawn down the path of Sustainable Development by the lure of numerous monetary grants and incentives from state and federal government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations. 11) Sustainable Development views traditional capitalism and the American way of life as a failing and inequitable system that must be replaced with a new governance system in order to achieve sustainability and a just world. 12) An overwhelming number of businesses and corporations have began shifting to a Sustainable Development operational model and in so doing have rejected the traditional “bottom line” of American Capitalism replacing it with the “triple bottom line” of United Nations Sustainable Development. 13) Almost every College and University in the nation has become indoctrinated with the philosophy of Sustainable Development. From campus infrastructure and administration to student life and the curriculum America’s Colleges and Universities are awash in this radical, collectivist philosophy. 14) The philosophy of Sustainable Development calls for a complete change in the lifestyle of the average American citizen. Numerous aspects of normal American life are subject to intense scrutiny under this radical new philosophy. Where and how we build our homes, what products we use, which foods we eat, what and how much we consume, and which methods of transportation we choose, are just a few examples of American life that United Nations Sustainable Development seeks to bring under its controlling grasp. 15) Sustainable Development and Agenda 21 promote a paradigm shift in attitudes away from the norm of national borders and individual nation-states toward a globalist, collective, one-world, interdependent, and interconnected planetary mindset. 16) Sustainable Development philosophy teaches that mankind is living beyond the “carrying capacity” of the Earth and that we are in the midst of multiple crises that are converging to create conditions that are not livable unless they are halted by a rapid global transition to a sustainable development system. Some of these perceived crises include overpopulation, global poverty and wealth inequality, manmade global climate change, and rampant environmental destruction. 17) Across our nation numerous communities of all sizes are putting into place the radical policies of Sustainable Development and United Nations Agenda 21. From new comprehensive land use plans, to smart growth, and sustainable community planning, the ideas and infrastructure of Sustainable Development are being implemented and added to daily. 18) The policies of sustainable development and Agenda 21 seek to change the way people live and build their cities and towns. Sustainable Development promotes high density, urban, pedestrian oriented, low carbon, walkable communities and discourages traditional American automobile usage, suburban lifestyles and development. 19) The Sustainable Development philosophy perceives the automobile and the ongoing use of fossil fuels as unsustainable. 20) In addition to the high level efforts within the United Nations and other similar globalist organizations, much of the work in promotion of Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development is being carried out by a massive network of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These organizations have been fully consumed by this radical collectivist philosophy and are working overwhelmingly to advance the Sustainable Development Agenda. 21) Sustainable Development and the implementation of Agenda 21 are not some far off future possibility. In fact, America and the world are in the midst of what the sustainable development movement calls “the great transition” to a sustainable new model of living.

  • Hardlyswayed
    August 26, 2012 - 00:01

    Me thinks HOGWASH. Perhaps a small percentage is caused by mankind, as has always been the case. Not one "scientific" specimen points to more than five, FIVE active volcanoes in the Atlantic and another more than five FIVE, Volcanoes in the Pacific Oceans. And that does not account for another number in the other deep oceans. Think of it, surface water temps, five years ago, showed 1 - 2 degree rise in the surface water above the active volcanoes. This attributes warmer than normal currents to the polar ice caps at each ocean. BUT, of course, that issue has no bang for the buck for those with interest in money made from the global warming as spewed from the present climate, does it.

  • Jeff Green
    August 25, 2012 - 21:04

    The IPCC makes it very clear from their 6000 peer reviewed papers that we are responsible for the warming on earth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_Fourth_Assessment_Report The report is the largest and most detailed summary of the climate change situation ever undertaken, produced by thousands of authors, editors, and reviewers from dozens of countries, citing over 6,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. On the issue of global warming and its causes, the SPM (summary for policy makers) states that: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal."[9] "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."[10] Very likely and likely mean "the assessed likelihood, using expert judgment" are over 90% and over 66%, respectively.[11] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/unequivocal Adj. 1. unequivocal - admitting of no doubt or misunderstanding; having only one meaning or interpretation and leading to only one conclusion; "unequivocal evidence"; "took an unequivocal position"; "an unequivocal success"; "an unequivocal promise"; "an unequivocal (or univocal) statement"

  • David Nutzuki
    August 25, 2012 - 19:03

    Anyone still spreading this needless panic and fear mongering of climate change should be charged with uttering CO2 death threats. Climate change was a war crime and none of you would still be shooting your mouths off still if there were real legal consequences for condemning billions of helpless children. REAL planet lovers are glad, not disappointed the crisis wasn't real because of exaggeration.

  • Meme Mine
    August 25, 2012 - 18:21

    These are FACTS! You must inform fairly! -Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations. -Socialist Canada killed Kyoto with a newly elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death). -Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier. -Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses. And fear mongering the voter's children will leave the cons in power forever. Nice job girls. Instead of preaching love for Nature, we loved it with fear. History will not be kind. Meanwhile, the entire world of SCIENCE, journalism and progressivism had allowed bank-funded and corporate-run “CARBON TRADING STOCK MARKETS” to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 26 years of insane attempts at climate CONTROL.

  • meme mine
    August 25, 2012 - 17:43

    It’s over………………………. -Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations. -Socialist Canada killed Kyoto with a newly elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death). -Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier. -Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses. And fear mongering the voter's children will leave the cons in power forever. Nice job girls. Instead of preaching love for Nature, we loved it with fear. History will not be kind. Meanwhile, the entire world of SCIENCE, journalism and progressivism had allowed bank-funded and corporate-run “CARBON TRADING STOCK MARKETS” to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 26 years of insane attempts at climate CONTROL. Not one single IPCC report of a coming climate crisis is or was without "maybes" and "likelys" etc. The ultimate crisis needed ultimate proof and exaggeration won out in the end.

  • Thomas Denilson
    August 25, 2012 - 12:59

    Sceptic? LOLOLOL. These are just a few of Muller's historical quotes. NOT too sceptical, methinks: "If Al Gore reaches more people and convinces the world that global warming is real, even if he does it through exaggeration and distortion - which he does, but he’s very effective at it - then let him fly any plane he wants." - Richard Muller, 2008 ..."There is a consensus that global warming is real. ...it’s going to get much, much worse." - Richard Muller, 2006 ..."Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate." - Richard Muller, 2003 ------------------------------------------ Global Warming/climate change pushers are every bit a sanctimonious, power/control seeking, and intolerant as any religious cult. Left or right, US Democrat or Republican, the long tentacles of the banking oligarchs and their foundations fund both sides of the debate, with express desire to shackle humanity both for profit (ie. carbon trading schema, aka Al Gore and his ilk AND big oil (bet-hedgers) becoming either billionaire or trillionaires). This is social and physical engineering from a Malthusian police state matrix that would make Stalin jealous.

  • Jaroslav Zenchuk
    August 25, 2012 - 08:05

    I would add that, given the mountain of evidence for human-induced climate change, the availability of solutions, and the Prime Minister's constitutional responsibility to safeguard the health and security of Canadians, Mr. Harper's lackadaisical approach to this environmental emergency constitutes gross criminal negligence. Further, given that human-caused global heating is essentially irreversible and that its consequences will be profoundly harmful to the planet and its billions of inhabitants for generations to come, the inaction of our corporate and political elites should be regarded as a most heinous crime against humanity. The responsible individuals should be treated accordingly under international law.