Since Marcus wrote his piece about climate change confusion merchants perhaps predictably we seem to have been swamped by these very characters. So be it. A good opportunity to re-iterate some basic, inconvenient facts, so listen up: for at least 118 years scientists have been warning the climate is changing. Let me say that again: One Hundred and Eighteen years. At least One Hundred and Eighteen years. In:
- 1895, geologists warned of climate change drastically affecting crop yields
- the 1920s, more stark warnings were made
- the 1930s, alarm bells rang out from concerned climatologists as in the previous four decades
- the 1970s, scientific journals and newspapers alike were full of evidence
- the 1980s and 1990s, two decades of precautionary science emerged
- the present era: 15, 16 years of it
Given this you’d be forgiven for thinking that denying climate change is the sort of unending task everyone should by now have given up on. Sadly not. Climate sceptics instead take the changing focus of the warnings (now cooling, now warming) as a deal-breaking sign of inconsistency – ignoring the overarching story that lurching from one extreme climate pole to the other is exactly the problem. Why?
The answer is that this nitpicking works – at least as a delaying tactic. After all, they did it with tobacco. Yes, folks, many of the most prominent climate deniers were previously active in the tobacco wars and what they did then to muddy the waters about tobacco harm is exactly what they’re doing now to sow doubt about climate change. So while in:
- 1863 the British Medical Association warned of lung harm through smoking
- the 1920s, focus shifted to the throat, while the lungs were thought to benefit
- the 1940s, lungs were back as the primary victim
- 1972, lungs didn’t suffer, heart was improved, but leg veins were dangerously compromised
- 1990s lungs and the respiratory system were affected once more
..most sensible observers saw the wood not the trees, ignoring the changing nature of the risks and focusing on the overarching story of risk as a whole, while tobacco deniers dissembled with, oh, it keeps changing, why should we trust the medical establishment?
Well, as with tobacco, so it will be with climate. Denialism and delayism is always called out by nature in the end. We are fifteen years into a near catastrophic cooling trend: since 1998 rising temperatures have slowed down at an alarming rate. Trended forward to the end of this century such a relentless downward rate of cooling will lead to large chunks of continental Europe becoming frozen wastes, Canada’s agricultural system collapsing, with hundreds of major cities flooded and frozen in succession and hundreds of millions of people on the move just to survive.
Climate change is here, dear reader, it is with us, and we must act now if we want to go on in anything like our current civil guise.