2021-11-07 Climate Change Deniers False Narratives

Michael Peck

Gregory Stanley how climate deniers “use numbers to deceive.” This commenter would have us believe that manmade CO2 in the atmosphere is insignificant. Of course this is a absurd statement. He’s basically telling us that all the climate scientists at our national laboratories, at our research institutions, and that our private institutes, along with the thousands of scientists at the 13 US government agencies that study climate have all gotten together and decided to “use numbers to deceive you”.

Further, he’s claiming that all the scientists that work at the national laboratories and research intensive universities at every other country in the world are also in on the lie.

Rather than science finding an unintended consequence of use of fossil fuel, and doing their best to give us a warning to change our behavior before catastrophe, this commenter would like you to believe that it’s all made up.

Let’s review a little basic math and science. We can calculate the amount of man-made CO2 using high school stoichiometry. We can determine how much CO2 comes from a tank of gas or a ton of coal. We can also measure that CO2 as it’s collecting in the atmosphere. We know that since the beginning of the industrial revolution that it’s increased from about 180 ppm to about 420 ppm.

We’ve also known for about 100 years that CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation. The spectrum of CO2, methane, water vapor and other greenhouse gases is published in my 1970 addition of the “handbook of chemistry and physics.”

We also can apply the first law of thermodynamics to determine the effect of IR absorption has on the Earth’s energy balance.

Most of us learn how to do all these things in our undergraduate chemistry class in college. In other words, there’s no mystery to why the earth is heating up. And the relationship to manmade greenhouse gases.

It’s unfortunate that climate science has become politicized. Climate denial has actually worked this way into the far right subcultural belief system. This is rooted in a combination of conservative politicians accepting large donations from the Koch brothers, Exxon Mobil, and the petroleum institute. Far right media, mainly Fox, routinely broadcast misinformation concerning climate science and order to maintain the conservative basis support of those lawmakers who chose to put money over our future. The Koch brothers even went so far as to pledge to finance a primary challenger against a Republican who actually acknowledged climate science.

Climate denial is about a “belief system,” not about science or fact. Although, as shown on the figure above, deniers will often use pseudoscience in an effort to recruit others into this false narrative.

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