Several weeks ago, Rich Lowry, who shares this space with me, berated progressives for obstinately refusing to acknowledge the latest “evidence” regarding climate change, accusing them of being “the new climate deniers.” Quoting The Economist magazine, Lowry wrote, “There hasn’t been any global warming for about a decade and a half.” In doing so, he buys into the cherry-picked data from subsets of climate statistics the real climate change deniers manipulate to attempt a case for their indefensible position and to confuse the public. For instance, 2012 was slightly cooler than 1998, so they claim warming has stalled out or possibly even reversed. But factoring out human activity every climatologist understands the average temperature of our planet varies a little from year to year from such natural causes as volcanism, cloud cover, oceanic conditions and sunspot activity. Here are the facts. Science Daily reports the globally averaged surface temperature for 2012 marked the 10th warmest year since record keeping began in 1880 and the 36th consecutive year with a temperature above the 20th century average. The last 12 years have been among the 14 hottest on record. A line graph of average temperatures shows an approximately 40 degree, generally ascending angle for the last 132 years.
The vast majority of oceanographers, meteorologists, geophysicists and other climate scientists agree man-made, heat-trapping gases concentrated in our atmosphere are the principle driver in the rise in temperature. There’s a difference between legitimate skepticism – absolutely essential to advance good science – published in scholarly, peer-reviewed, academic journals and junk science, distorted facts and bogus claims the purpose of which is not to further scientific understanding but to obfuscate the scientific consensus behind climate change and the extent of global warming simply to shield the polluters. Between 2002 and 2010, conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers, themselves heavily invested in the petroleum industry, donated nearly $120 million to underwrite anti-climate change propaganda by the fossil fuel industry, free market think tanks and antigovernment cranks; not unlike the incestuous relationship between Big Tobacco and the industry-paid “experts” who denied smoking was harmful. Some are the very same hacks. One of their shameful deceptions is that 32,000 “scientists” signed a petition denying climate change is man-made. Problem is anyone can sign the online petition; sponsors admit credentials are not verified. But even if they were all legitimate only 39 signatories self-identify as actual climatologists and less than 1000 hold doctoral degrees in related disciplines. The vast majority, 20,000, have only BS or MS degrees. It took 40 years and millions of needless deaths to expose the unethical tobacco hucksters. How much damage to our ecosystem till the denier hucksters are called out?