‘Denialists’ disdain for science is a vital human rights issue’

ClimateChangeDisinformationPipelinePublished in Business Day, 14 January 2014

The public debate about climate change is an aberration because we do not have debates in newspapers about the validity of medical science, physics, aeronautics, geology or genetics. So what is different about climate science?

Two things, perhaps: its conclusions demand that most of us make significant adjustments to our lifestyles, and it threatens major vested interests: the fossil fuel industry that supplies the world’s coal, gas and oil.

But, like the tobacco industry before it, the fossil fuel industry has funded a vast campaign of lies and disinformation to undermine public trust in science. To understand the so-called climate debate, one must understand this context, rarely if ever acknowledged in South Africa. A debate fuelled mostly by propaganda is not a real debate.

As Jeremy Grantham, a leading US fund manager, observes: “We have the energy industry — the only other vested interest as powerful as that of the financial world — egging people on to be confused about the issues. They do it very successfully, with foundations with misleading names, think-tanks like the Cato Institute and the Hudson Institute, whose job in life appears to be propagandise anything and everything that is useful for energy interests.”

There is a climate-change disinformation pipeline. Part of it was described in April in the US Congress by senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “For more than two decades, the fossil-fuel companies and certain right-wing extremists have cooked up a well-organised campaign to call into question the scientific evidence of climate change. The paid-for deniers then manufacture an interesting product; they manufacture uncertainty so the polluters who are doing the paying can also keep polluting, because a sufficient atmosphere of uncertainty has been created to inhibit progress.”

US President Barack Obama told a rally in California on October 22 2010: “Oil companies and the other special interests are spending millions on a campaign to gut clean-air and clean-energy standards, jeopardising the health and prosperity of this state.”

Whitehouse pointed out that this organised assault on science is not new. Similar campaigns were deployed in the past to fight the science on the toxicity of lead, the need for seatbelts and the deadly effects of smoking tobacco.

From 2006 to 2010, four fossil fuel-funded organisations alone contributed more than $16m to conservative “think-tanks” in the US that “go about the business of being publicly critical of climate science and clean energy”: the Charles G Koch Foundation, the Claude R Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Earhart Foundation and, blatantly, the giant oil company, ExxonMobil.

Whitehouse listed the supposedly independent foundations that benefited from this dirty money: among many others, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Energy Research and the George C Marshall Institute.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry association funded by the likes of ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, Halliburton and Shell, resists action on pollution and climate change. Back in 1998, it fought the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using faked grassroots actions.

These industry front organisations generate a stream of climate denialist opinion that is published or cited in the media, recycled on a multitude of blogs and even pushed into schools.

According to Whitehouse: “From 2007 to 2011, these 10 organisations that I cited, the top 10, were quoted, cited or had articles published over 1,000 times in 60 mainstream newspapers and print publications, and invariably they were promoting fossil fuels, undermining renewable energy or attacking environmental policies.”

The oil-money funding of the sources was disclosed in only 6% of these instances. That supposed bastion of quality journalism, The New York Times, ignored it in 90% of instances, regularly turning to dial-a-denialist sources for quotes. Big oil fights the evidence on climate change so blatantly that in 2006 the British Royal Society, a pre-eminent scientific body, wrote to ExxonMobil demanding it cease its propaganda activities.

On the other hand, leading companies without core interests in fossil fuels mostly take the position that it is indeed human activity that causes climate change. Notable examples include Apple, Google, Facebook, Ford, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Walmart, insurance giant Munich Re, Alcoa, Maersk, Procter & Gamble, Fedex and Intel.

The US Chamber of Commerce also fights serious action on climate change — leading to the loss of some of its most credible members.

In 2009, Apple, Levi Strauss, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon withdrew their membership. Apple vice-president Catherine Novelli wrote at the time: “Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the chamber at odds with us in this effort.”

As the science of climate change has become even more unequivocal, some giant corporate carbon emitters with large South African interests now profess concern — while still fighting effective measures to stop global warming. Stand up Shell, BP, ArcelorMittal and Bayer.

Given the threat that climate change poses to South Africa, all should be called to account in Parliament. As with the tobacco industry, they and their industry peers will one day find themselves hauled before courts around the world. But the outrage will be even greater, and the costs to them and their shareholders more devastating.

Of course, there are many honest doubters who have never touched a cent of dirty money. The scientific method serves us incredibly well, not least in the fields of medicine, physics, geology, meteorology and materials sciences. But most of us enjoy its benefits without completely understanding its methods. It is difficult for most lay people to sift through the ocean of lies now spilled on the internet. It takes an often painful imaginative leap to connect the ways we live with such enormous consequences.

There are, however, some sceptics whose names appear again and again in the South African media, with motives either mischievous or profoundly misguided. David Gleason, Stephen Mulholland, Ivo Vegter, Philip Lloyd, Andrew Kenny: these men have clearly spent time on these issues. They must have heard of peer-reviewed science (though this is doubtful when the UK’s Daily Mail is cited), on which they would likely be all too happy to rely when seeking medical treatment. They must be aware of the propaganda with which they align themselves. Yet on climate change they improbably present themselves as better informed than thousands of climate scientists, which none of them is, constantly recycling half-truths without being fact-checked.

They are not, as they like to suggest, Galileos fighting a mistaken consensus. Galileo is celebrated because he stood up for the scientific method against vast institutional power. Sceptics trash the scientific method in the witting or unwitting service of a fossil-fuel industry far more powerful than modestly paid climate scientists.

Their understanding of science is as poor, and their actions every bit as potentially lethal, as those of the AIDS denialists whose ignorance and obstinacy contributed to the deaths of so many South Africans in the past decade, and who have never been called to account. Climate change is a human rights issue — it threatens human life — and those who trivialise it have a great deal to answer for.

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David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.

7 thoughts on “‘Denialists’ disdain for science is a vital human rights issue’”

  1. “They must have heard of peer-reviewed science”
    I think I have:
    Peer reviewed publications
    Lloyd, Philip. Reassessment of the environmental impacts of sulphur oxide emissions from power stations. Journal of Energy in SA, 24(2), 28-36, 2013
    Cook, A.P. and Lloyd, P.J.D. The estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from South African surface and abandoned coal mines. Journal of SA Institution of Mining and Metallurgy,112, pp1087-1090, 2012
    Lloyd, Philip.”Restructuring South Africa’s Electricity Supply Industry” Focus 64, pp4-14, 2012 ISSN 1680-9822
    Lloyd, P. “Air pollution perceptions and their impacts on the coal industry.” J. SA Inst.Min.Metall. 111 (8) pp573-579, 2011
    Howells, Mark I., Jonsson, Sandra, Käck, Emilia, Lloyd, Philip, Bennett, Kevin, Leiman, Tony and Conradie, Beatrice. 2010. Calabashes for kilowatt-hours: Rural energy and market failure. Energy Policy, 38 (6), pp2729-2738, 2010
    Lloyd, Philip J. Changes in the wet precipitation of sodium and chloride over the continental United States, 1984–2006. Atmospheric Environment 44 (26),pp 3196-3206, 2010
    Lloyd, Philip, Historical trends in the flows of the Breede River. Water SA 36 (3) pp329-333, 2010
    Lloyd, PJD Comment on the paper ‘A Mintek perspective of the past 25 years in mineral bioleaching.’ J SA Inst. Mining Metallurgy 110 p iv, 2010
    Zhou, PP, Yamba, FD, Lloyd, P, Nyahuma, L, Mzezewa, C, Kipondya, F, Keir, J, Asamoah, J and Simonsen, H. “Determination of regional emission factors for the power sector in Southern Africa.” J Energy in SA, 20 (4) pp11-18, 2009
    Lloyd, Philip “On the determination of trends in rainfall.” Water SA 35(3) pp237-243, 2009
    Lloyd, PJD, Comment on characterisation of gold tailings dumps of the Witwatersrand Basin. Water SA, 33 (1) pp143-4, 2007
    Lloyd, Philip and Cook, Alan “Methane release from South African coal mines” J SA Inst Min Metall., 105 pp 483-490, Aug 2005
    Mokoena JKJ and Lloyd PJD “A business model to overcome barriers to entry in the South African downstream petroleum industry” J Energy in SA, 16 pp 40-49 2005
    Lloyd PJ, Dick A and Howells M “The energy profile of a rural community” J Energy in SA, 15 (3) pp80-87, 2004
    Lloyd PJD & Rukarto H, “The potential of LP gas for household energy in South Africa” J Energy in SA Vol 12 No 1 pp329-35 (2001)
    Lloyd PJD “The potential of coal wastes in South Africa,” J SA Inst Min Metall 100 (1) pp69-72 2000
    Asamoah JK, Lloyd PJ, Hoets P & Grobelaar CJ “South Africa’s low smoke fuel programme. Preliminary results of the macro-scale experiment in Qalabotjha.” J Energy in SA 9 (2) pp64-7 (1998)
    Lloyd PJD “The escape of salt pollution from decommissioned gold residue deposits” J SA Inst Min Metall. 97 pp325-7(1997)
    Lloyd Philip”Give the people their land” in Frontiers of Freedom, SA Inst Race Relations, 1997 pp18-20
    Lloyd PJ “Environmental protection in South Africa” SAJ Science 91 pp331-4 (1995)
    Lloyd PJ “Environmental protection in SA” JSAIMM 94 pp111-7 (1994)
    Lloyd PJ and Loots P “The impact of cash flow on decisions regarding dispute resolution” Alternative Dispute Resolution Law J 21pp374-6(1994)
    Lloyd PJD “Optimal flowsheeting in the solvent extraction of metals” SAJ Chem Engng 5 (2) pp1-15 (1993)
    Lloyd PJD “Production of aromatics by the direct liquefaction of coal” SAJ Chem Engng 5 (1) pp1-16 (1993)
    Lloyd PJD “The impact of forward sales on the price of gold” JSAIMM 92 pp89-90(1992)
    Lloyd PJD “Technology’s contribution to development” Town & Regional Planning No 24 (April 1988) pp3-16
    Lloyd PJD “Fractional approximation to irrational constants” SA J Science 82 p285 (1986)
    Lloyd PJD “Research and development in South Africa’s process industries” SA J Science 81 pp140-143 (1985)
    Lloyd PJD “Hiroshima and Nagasaki – a commentary” SA J Science 79 pp393-398 (1985)
    Lloyd PJD “The uneconomic production of gold in SA” JSAIMM 84 p297 (1984)
    Bradley AA, Lloyd PJD and Stanton KH “The balancing of a centrifugal mill” JSAIMM 83 pp229 – 236 (1983)
    Lloyd PJD, Hinde AL and Hebden D “Design and scaleup of a new flotation cell” JSAIMM 84 pp33-44 (1984)
    Lloyd PJD, Bradley AA, Hinde AL, Stanton KH and Schymura GK “A full-scale centrifugal mill” JSAIMM 82 pp149-156 (1982)
    Lloyd PJD “The flotation of gold, uranium and pyrite from Witwatersrand ores” JSAIMM 81 pp41-7 (1981)
    Lloyd PJD “Portable gold analyser for mines” SA J Science 77 pp440-1 (1981)
    Lloyd PJD “Appropriate technology and development” SAJ Science 76 p12 (1980)
    Lloyd PJD “Mining and metallurgical manpower in SA” JSAIMM 80 pp190-192 (1980)
    Lloyd PJD “Impact of science and technology on English” English Usage in SA 11 (1) pp1-13 (1980)
    Lloyd PJD “Integrated mining and extraction system for use on mines” JSAIMM 79 pp135-148 (1979)
    Lloyd PJD “Processing ore and minerals underground” Metals & Minerals Processing, April 1979 pp4-18
    Lloyd PJD “Maximizing the recovery of gold from ores” Minerals Sci Engng 10 (3) pp208 – 221 (1978)
    Hinde AL and Lloyd PJD “Real time particle size analysis in wet closed-circuit milling” Powder Tech 12 pp37-50 (1975)
    Mackay JG and Lloyd PJD “Progress in assessing plant data” JSAIMM 75 pp162-170
    (1975)
    Bradley AA, Freemantle AJ and Lloyd PJD “Developments in centrifugal milling” JSAIMM 74 pp379-387 (1974)
    Atkins AAR, Hinde AL, Lloyd PJD and Mackay JG “The control of milling circuits” JSAIMM 74 pp388-395 (1974)
    Urban MR, Urban Jill & Lloyd PJD “Adsorption of gold from cyanide solutions onto constitutents of the reef, and its role in reducing the efficiency of the gold-recovery process” JSAIMM 73 pp385-394 (1973)
    Bradley AA, Hinde AL and Lloyd PJD “Determination of the efficiency of the milling process” JSAIMM 72 pp277-21 (1972)
    Campkin JC and Lloyd PJ “Prevention of bacterial attack on pyrite” JSAIMM 70 pp206-212 (1970)
    Groenewald T and Lloyd PJD “Determination of gold (I) in cyanide solutions by solvent extraction and atomic absorption spectrophotometry” Anal Chem 40 (6) pp836-848 (1968)
    Lloyd PJD “The design of liquid thermal diffusion columns” Chem Engng Sci 22 pp 1885-889 (1967)
    Lloyd PJ “Extraction of the neutral and anionic complexes of nitrosyl ruthenium by long chain alkyl amines” JSAChem Inst 20 (2) 174-185 (1967)
    Faure A and Lloyd PJD “Production of high purity uranium at a South African gold mine”JSAIMM 66(8) pp 319-341(1966)
    Lloyd PJ “Anion exchangers” J Inorg Nucl Chem 28 (2) p695 (1966)
    Kertes AS and Lloyd PJ “Viscosities of solutions of acids in tri-n-butyl phosphate” J Chem Soc 1965 (630) 3477-479 (1965)
    Mason EA and Lloyd PJ “Extraction of hexavalent uranium by trilaurylamine nitrate” J Phys Chem 68 3120 – 3129 (1964)
    Lloyd PJ “Solvent extraction in the South African uranium industry” JSAIMM 62 (8) pp465 – 480 (1962)
    Lloyd PJ and Carr AD “Determination of small amounts of amines in aqueous solution” Analyst 86 (1022) pp335 – 338 (1961)
    Brooks RR and Lloyd PJ “Influence of molecular structure on the liquid extraction of the chloro-complexes of gallium and indium” Nature 189 (4762) pp375-377 (1961)

    Chapters in Books
    Beck, V., Evans, R., Behrendt, F., Raj, B., Oh, M., Lloyd, P., Loughead, J. and Savitz, M. “Opportunities for low-carbon energy technologies for electricity generation. International Council of Academies of Engineering and technological Societies, Locust Grove, VA. 2013. ISBN 978 1 921388 24 8
    Lloyd, Philip J. and van Wyk, Jessy. “Introduction to Extraction in Food Processing” in “Enhancing extraction processes in the food industry” N.Lebovka, E.Vorobiev and F.Chemat (Eds) CRC Press, London, ISBN-978-1-4398-4593-6, 2011. pp1-24
    Surridge, A.D., Cloete, M. and Lloyd, Philip J. “The geological storage of carbon dioxide and disposal of nuclear waste in South Africa”, in “Geological Disposal of Carbon Dioxide and Radioactive Waste: A Comparative Assessment”, F.L.Toth (Ed.), Springer ISBN 978-90-481-8711-9, 2011. pp569-588
    Lloyd, Philip, in “Underground Geological Storage”, Chap.5, Benson & Cook Co-ordinating Lead Authors, IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage, Eds Metz, Davidson, de Coninck, Loos and Meyer, Cambridge University Press ISBN -13 978-0-521-86643-9, 2005
    Lloyd, Philip “Annex II – Glossary, acronyms and abbreviations” IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage, Eds Metz, Davidson, de Coninck, Loos and Meyer, Cambridge University Press ISBN -13 978-0-521-86643-9, 2005
    Lloyd, Philip JD “Calculations for industrial solvent extraction processes,” Chapter 8 pp339-366 in “Principles and Practice of Solvent Extraction”, 2nd Ed, Rydberg, Musikas Cox and Choppin, Marcel Dekker, New York, 2004
    Lloyd Philip J, Krantz LG and Rawlings PE “Project risk management in the process industries” Chapter 8 in “Construction law and related issues” Ed Loots P, Juta (Cape) 1995
    Lloyd Philip J “Principles of industrial solvent extraction” Chap 7 pp271-302 in “Principles and practices of solvent extraction” Eds Rydberg, Musikas and Choppin, Marcel Dekker (New York) 1992
    Lloyd PJD “Commercial processes for uranium from ore” Chap 25 in “Handbook of solvent extraction”, Eds Lo, Baird and Hanson, Wiley (New York) 1983
    Lloyd PJD “Unit operations of solid-liquid separation, product concentration and recovery in hydrometallurgical processing systems” in Advances in extractive metallurgy, IMM London pp174-188 (1972)

    I’ll spare you the list of peer-reviewed conference proceedings – but you get the message – even ‘independent’ journalists are expected to check their facts. As with so much else in your piece, you showed you were both uninformed and careless of being uninformed. Try to get a little wisdom before you commit further folly. Come from a standpoint of knowledge – it is more powerful than belief.

    1. Well, precisely I didnt suggest that you were ignorant of the nature of peer-reviewed science. Quite the contrary the methods you use in casting doubt on genuine climate science are all the more cynical given that as a practising scientist in other specialties, who understands the scientific process of verification and review, you ought to know better.

      Importantly, I dont see any peer-reviewed papers about climate change here. In making claims about climate change, you like to give the impression that your expertise as an engineer and a chemist makes you an expert on climate change as well. But you are not a peer-reviewed author in the realm in which you like to claim expertise.

      The Energy Institute you work for is funded by the Fossil Fuel Foundation. Why should we think that you are academically independent?

  2. “They must have heard of peer-reviewed science (though this is doubtful when the UK’s Daily Mail is cited).” “Well, precisely � I didn�t suggest that you were ignorant of the nature of peer-reviewed science.” Consistency rules, OK? You did suggest it, and you were wrong.

    You now make a different claim, that you don’t see any papers about climate change. Clearly, you do not understand what a complex and many faceted subject it is. Part of your problem is being woefully ignorant the bulk of human knowledge, which is the huge literature of science. When you are better informed, you may actually understand “The estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from South African surface and abandoned coal mines” or “On the determination of trends in rainfall” or “Historical trends in the flows of the Breede River” or “Methane release from South African coal mines” actually has something to do with climate change – even the title tells you that, if you are at all knowledgeable about the topic. I do not expect you to see the significance of “Changes in the wet precipitation of sodium and chloride over the continental United States, 1984–2006” but climate change is in there too.

    In any debate it helps to a reasonable hold of the other side’s arguments – that way you reduce the risk of making a fool of yourself. Get informed – much better informed – and then I will be happy to debate the issue with you.

    As regards the association of the Energy Institute with the Fossil Fuel Foundation, I would point out that over 80% of all the energy we enjoy comes from fossil fuels, so it makes sense for us to have an association. The books of FFF are, I believe, available for inspection, and will reveal that we receive no financial support from them – they are a professional body, as any inspection of their calendar (http://tracker1.co.za/weblink/110c6ea6-3182-41e9-b865-2615cfdc9a72.htm) makes clear.

    Claims of guilt by association were widely used by Stalin, Hitler and Senator McCarthy. Are you happy to be classed with them?

  3. In the debate about climate change/global warming, there is a lingering question – how can many apparently sensible people question the findings of the IPCC? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is one of the shining lights in the UN’s collection of bodies. Does it not represent the consensus views of many scientists from around the world? Does it not, in its Assessment Reports, summarize the latest advances in climate science? Can we not rely on it to provide us with the best possible advice on how to address the effects of climate change?
    Sadly, the answer to these last three questions is no, no, no. Let me give some examples.
    In the latest IPCC Assessment Report, there were three rounds of drafting, when reviewers from all over the world commented on the text. The drafters went back to the drawing board on each occasion, and took cognisance of the comments, or else gave reasons why they rejected the comments. In September 2013, the report was published in final draft, “accepted by Working Group I of the IPCC but not approved in detail.”
    There was a key diagram in each of the first three drafts. It showed how the most recent measurements of the global temperatures were diverging from predictions made in earlier Assessment Reports. There were few comments on this figure – it truly represented what we were observing, namely that the world was not warming as fast as had been predicted. The latest measurements lay below the lowest bound of earlier predictions.
    In the final draft, this was replaced by a new figure. The earlier predictions had been ‘adjusted’ while the measurements had been ‘rebased’. Now there was every appearance that the measurements agreed with the predictions – and this was the message that was rushed to the world’s press. The consensus view, as expressed by the survival of the earlier diagram through three separate drafts, was ignored. Those of us who complained of the trick – for indeed we felt we had been tricked – were branded as ‘denialists’. That was deemed sufficient criticism to deflect the world from finding out the truth.
    So the reports do not represent the consensus. Instead, they represent an attempt to convince politicians (in particular) and the lay public (in general) that the IPCC really knows what’s what. Why would they do such a thing? Could it be that they might lose support if they told the truth? Could hundreds of petty officials find themselves without jobs?
    Does the IPCC summarize the latest advances? Let me tell you my own experience. In the Fourth Assessment Report, much had been made of the prediction that a patch of sky, within the tropics and 6 to 10km up, would warm far faster than the earth’s surface. Most of us involved in the science agreed that this would be the consequence of a warmer world being wetter, and the wetter world then getting warmer, and so on. This would magnify the effect of the extra carbon dioxide in the air, and lead to the heated patch of sky. However, in the second draft of the Fifth Assessment that I reviewed, there was no mention of this prediction – nothing. So I drew attention to the omission.
    When the third draft came out, again there was nothing about the hot patch. So in reviewing the third draft, I reported five recent peer-reviewed publications that had shown that the prediction was wrong. No-one knew why it was wrong, but wrong it clearly was. I awaited the fourth draft with interest.
    I was surprised, to say the least of it, when the final draft appeared. All that was mentioned about the hot patch was that the data were ‘inconclusive’. Really? There had been lots of hard data published, from balloons and satellites, all of which had failed to confirm the predicted rate of warming. The IPCC does not summarize the latest advances in climate science. If the latest advance counters one of its earlier views, it ignores the advance.
    The IPCC goes to great lengths to try to show that it is balanced. Almost every finding is backed by a qualifier giving their estimate of the significance of the finding. Unfortunately that hides the fact that there are huge gaps in the basic science. For example, most people find that cloudy days tend to be cooler than clear days. Understanding this is critical to the modelling of climate change. Would you believe that there is an argument raging among the climate scientists about just how much cooler, or how occasionally it is warmer, when it is cloudy? That shows how unsettled the science is.
    Are there only a few misguided denialist souls crying in the wilderness? For those who seriously believe this, I would ask them to read Donna LaFramboise’s exposé The delinquent teenager who was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert. It documents in delicious detail the IPCC’s shenanigans. It is downloadable as an e-book for a few rand.
    Does the IPCC provide us with good advice on how to address the effects of climate change? I would turn the question round, and ask how it can possibly do so when the basic science is incomplete and the IPCC politicizes its reports of the basic science? It truly cannot give sound advice. This is the greatest problem with the myth of the IPCC’s invincibility. We will be driven to take poor decisions, based on poor information. We will spend money uselessly, pursuing courses of action that have no real foundation. Yes, we should worry about the lives of our great grandchildren, as the global warming lobby is so keen to remind us. But we also need to worry about the problems that beset our generation, here and now. I could give you a list, but climate change would barely feature.

    1. The IPCC is a human institution. As such it would be a miracle if its policies and procedures were beyond criticism. But it produces a synthesis of existing science not new science. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human beings are causing global warming with likely disastrous results. Whatever flaws there may be in the IPCC process do not affect that consensus.

      You say you participated in the drafting of the latest assessment report, but I cant find your name in the list of authors and reviewers am I missing something? Please send me a link showing where your name appears.

      My question about whether you have written a peer-reviewed, published paper questioning the AGW consensus stands.

      As a sidenote, and Im certainly no expert on this, but its by no means true that cloudy days are automatically cooler than clear days certainly not at night, when clouds trap heat that would otherwise re-radiate into space. Your appeal to what most people find is not science, which may often contradict common sense.

  4. I’ve noticed that scientists who deny the climate change emergency (or who are speciously “skeptical” about it) are the chemists and physicists — those who see themselves at the top of the scientific heap (but don’t tell them the mathematicians feel even more superior) — with some geologists thrown in. They’re not the biologists or ecologists. The problem is, the reductionism inherent in our education system means that the “denying” scientists tend not to understand living systems, the principles of ecology, how life works on this precious planet.

    1. Most of the discussion here has been about “climate science”, which is basically a subset of physics with a bit of chemistry thrown in. Mathematics – which some call “the language of science” – underpins it all. So there has been little call upon biology.

      But that is not to say chemists/physicists have no knowledge of living systems, as you suggest. If you read “Nature” you will find that most of the chemistry it discusses these days is biochemistry.

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