Putting Climate Hoax Conspiracies Theories to Scientists
I’ve seen some wild things on my timeline, so I asked Professor of Climate Science at the University of East Anglia and Greenpeace about them
We live, ladies and gentlemen, in the golden age of the internet conspiracy theory. It’s really kicked off, you’re going to fall out with people — go within a one metre radius of an internet connection and you’ll have a flurry of falsehoods thrust upon you from all directions.
It’s so relentless it’s eclipsing any rational debate online now, it hoovers up people’s anxieties and fears and transforms them into hundreds of thousands of shout-y and objectively incorrect internet posts.
If it’s not 5G it’s Q, if it’s not Q it’s ‘COVID-19 is a false flag operation’, if it’s not ‘COVID-19 is a false flag operation’ it’s ‘vaccines cause autism’, if it’s not ‘vaccines cause autism’ it’s ‘Bill Gates wants to microchip us’. (But never Elon Musk funny enough, who actually has expressed an interest in microchipping humans.)
I’m not sure why it’s got so massive in the past year; maybe it’s because we have been stuck at home due to the pandemic and therefore have more time to spend on YouTube trails. More likely, though, is it’s because those behind a lot of conspiracies pray on vulnerable people and we’ve all been a bit scared and vulnerable over the past year.
The problem is, scientists are never going to spend ten years studying a niche discipline and then take time to argue online with someone with 400 YouTube subs and some ‘interesting’ ideas about vaccines. So, I took one of the most dangerous conspiracy theories in my opinion — climate denial — and looked for some experts to respond to some of the claims I’d seen on my timeline.
I found Timothy Osborn, Professor of Climate Science at the University of East Anglia and Graham Thompson, who has worked on climate issues for Greenpeace for more than 15 years.
THEORY: Come on, guys. We’ve all got access to YouTube, we all know, deep down, that climate change is a myth. Any scientific evidence suggesting otherwise is clearly part of an elaborate conspiracy theory where scientists fabricate studies in order to, uhm, get increased funding to fabricate more. Ask David Icke or Alex Jones or that guy in the club smoking area who likes his ketamine a bit too much.
Professor Osborn: “Right, okay, that’s a big one to start with. Clearly it isn’t a myth. There are tens of thousands of people active in climate change research from all sorts of backgrounds around the world. It just couldn’t be organised into such a big conspiracy like that.”
Greenpeace: “Donald Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. If that isn’t enough to persuade you that it’s real, every government and every international scientific institute in the world agrees with the scientific consensus.”
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
What does this mean for us? There is no doubt that climate change is real. We should probably make sure that we start recycling as much as we can.
Climate change will eventually make the world uninhabitable or just totally unbearable for everyone.
Professor Osborn: “It’s not likely to be true. The types of weather that people live in across the world right now are hugely varied. It’s unlikely that the whole world would end up with a climate that’s not suitable for anyone, anywhere.”
Greenpeace: “It’s very unlikely that climate change would ever make the entire world uninhabitable, but a few areas could become too hot — where a human body would overheat even sitting in the shade. But the main problem is the rate of change. All of our agriculture and infrastructure is designed for the climate we have. Rapid, continuous change is impossible to adapt to.”
What does this mean for us? Global Warming is not going to cause the world to end. But, Refugee Crisis believe it could cause mass migration which will come with a host of social implications.
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Our climate is changing and it is making our weather more extreme, but it is just part of a natural cycle of the Earth. Anyone claiming that the process is influenced by humans is probably part of the cover up.
Professor Osborn: “Yes, the climate does vary naturally. Climate scientists are not saying that these natural variations don’t exist. We understand many of the ways in which that happens. There were a few bigger volcanic eruptions in recent decades compared to the mid-twentieth century when there were fewer — that will have a cooling effect on the climate. So, we would have had expected a slight cooling if anything from purely natural effects. But we have observed an overall warming. The human influence has taken away that cooling.
Greenpeace: “Climate scientists study the world’s natural climate cycles in depth in order to separate them out from man-made climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that roughly 100 percent of the warming in recent decades has been man-made. We know that the extra carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere is man-made.”
What does this mean for us? The climate changes naturally. However, that doesn’t mean that us humans aren’t causing extreme weather by polluting the air. According to a study commissioned by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, it is as certain that burning fossil fuels causes extreme weather as it is that smoking causes cancer. These are things we know for sure.
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The Poles aren’t melting; there’s no risk of huge waves flooding major cities around the world. The Poles are actually GROWING — see how these wacko scientists have corrupted us?
Professor Osborn: “Arctic [North Pole] ice, overall, is melting. There’s clear evidence of that over the past few decades. Antarctic [South Pole] is more of a mixed picture. Some parts are melting and some parts are actually growing.”
Greenpeace: “The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents. The sea ice there has been in a steep decline, and most of it has already disappeared. The Antarctic is a continent surrounded by ocean, and the loss of ice there has been much slower as a warmer atmosphere means more evaporation, leading to more precipitation.”
What does this mean for us? The Poles aren’t going to be a thing of the past anytime soon, but some parts are disintegrating. The New Scientist argues that — at the very least — it’s going to make the sea levels rise and have a negative impact on local wildlife.
All sea levels are rapidly rising and, perhaps even more worryingly, people are starting to suggest that Noah and his ark doesn’t even exist. We are on the brink of a new Ice Age; The Day After Tomorrow is going to happen IRL. Cities like New York, Miami and Boston will soon be totally underwater.
Professor Osborn: “Yes, sea levels are rising. We’ve observed that using long tide gauge records of coasts around the world. More recently we’ve used satellite radar beaming down on the sea surface to measure it. They are rising for two reasons. Firstly, as the oceans warm, the water expands. Secondly, the warming is causing ice on land to melt.”
Greenpeace: “Roughly speaking, yes, although in a few places the land is rising faster than the sea. Scotland, for example. The main cause of sea level rise so far hasn’t been the melting Poles, but thermal expansion. Water gets bigger when it gets hotter.”
What does this mean for us? This is pretty serious; half of the world’s population live within 200km of a coastline, according to Greenpeace. That’s a potential three billion people who could be displaced if the situation doesn’t improve.