A Democrat-voting, tofu-eating environmentalist has written movingly about his conversion to the light on climate change.
My name is David Siegel. I’m not a climate expert; I’m a writer. Early in 2015, I became interested in climate science and decided to spend the better part of this year trying to learn what I could. It didn’t take long before it was clear that there isn’t likely going to be any catastrophic warming this century.
Now Siegel – author of several bestselling business books – is trying to persuade his fellow liberals to follow his example by doing what he did, examining their prejudices and looking at the facts.
To this end, he has written a 9,000 word essay explaining where the alarmists have got it wrong. But he doesn’t hold out much hope: it was rejected by every one of the liberal publications in the US to which he submitted it, among them the LA Times, the Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic and Huffington Post.
Siegel begins with a ten short statements designed to challenge the usual liberal assumptions on climate change. Here they are:
1. Weather is not climate. There are no studies showing a conclusive link between global warming and increased frequency or intensity of storms, droughts, floods, cold or heat waves.
2. Natural variation in weather and climate is tremendous. Most of what people call “global warming” is natural. The earth is warming, but not quickly, not much, and not lately.
3. There is tremendous uncertainty as to how the climate really works. Climate models are not yet skillful; predictions are unresolved.
4. New research shows fluctuations in energy from the sun correlate very strongly with changes in earth’s temperature, better than CO2 levels.
5. CO2 has very little to do with it. All the decarbonization we can do isn’t going to change the climate much.
6. There is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon dioxide is coming out of your nose right now; it is not a poisonous gas. CO2 concentrations in previous eras have been many times higher than they are today.
7. Sea level will probably continue to rise, naturally and slowly. Researchers have found no link between CO2 and sea level.
9. No one has shown any damage to reef or marine systems. Additional man-made CO2 will not likely harm oceans, reef systems, or marine life. Fish are mostly threatened by people, who eat them.
10. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others are pursuing a political agenda and a PR campaign, not scientific inquiry. There’s a tremendous amount of trickery going on under the surface*.
Every one of the statements is evidence-based and supportable, of course, but like Siegel I hold out little hope that they stand any chance of penetrating the liberal-left mental firewall.
In my experience – and I’ve been fighting the climate wars for over a decade – this debate has always had far more to do with ideology than it does with the hard scientific facts, which on the whole are far less helpful to the liberal cause than they are to the conservative one.
Where I disagree with Siegel’s essay is where he says that “skeptics are losing this battle”. Sure, if we’re talking Gramsci-style about all the institutions the Warmists have captured – NASA, the New York Times, NOAA, the Royal Society, the NAS, the seats of academe, the UN, the EU, etc – then he definitely has a point.
But I think as far as the generality of the populace is concerned, climate change has ceased to be the red-button issue it was at the height of the 90s scare during the period where the world actually was still getting warmer.
It’s nice that David Siegel has seen the light (“likewise joy shall there be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons”). It’s sweet that he’s trying to convert a few more of the liberal heathen. Really, though, does any of us actually care that most liberals are wrong on climate change? And if they did all convert wouldn’t it suddenly snatch away one of life’s great pleasures: tormenting liberals with inconvenient facts?