Monday, October 19, 2015
How a liberal vegan environmentalist made the switch from climate proponent to climate skeptic
by David Siegel
What is your position on the climate-change debate? What would it take to change your mind?
If the answer is It would take a ton of evidence to change my mind, because my understanding is that the science is settled, and we need to get going on this important issue, that’s what I thought, too.
This is my story.
More than thirty years ago, I became vegan because I believed it was healthier (it’s not), and I’ve stayed vegan because I believe it’s better for the environment (it is). I haven’t owned a car in ten years. I love animals; I’ll gladly fly halfway around the world to take photos of them in their natural habitats. I’m a Democrat: I think governments play a key role in preserving our environment for the future in the most cost-effective way possible.Over the years, I built a set of assumptions: that Al Gore was right about global warming, that he was the David going up against the industrial Goliath. In 1993, I even wrote a book about it.
Recently, a friend challenged those assumptions. At first, I was annoyed, because I thought the science really was settled. As I started to look at the data and read about climate science, I was surprised, then shocked. As I learned more, I changed my mind. I now think there probably is no climate crisis and that the focus on CO2 takes funding and attention from critical environmental problems. I’ll start by making ten short statements that should challenge your assumptions and then back them up with an essay.
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.
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 that fluctuations in energy from the sun correlate very strongly with changes in earth’s temperature, at both long and short time scales.
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.
8 The Arctic experiences natural variation as well, with some years warmer earlier than others. Polar bear numbers are up, not down. They have more to do with hunting permits than CO2*.
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*.
Could this possibly be right? Is it heresy, or critical thinking — or both? If I’ve upset or confused you, let me guide you through my journey
You’ll find it at: www.climatecurious.com.