The importance of being skeptical (and an alternative view of climate change)

One problem that will always face us as human beings is who to believe when presented with a variety of differing viewpoints. Action on these can be drastic, with severe social, economical, and environmental impacts.

We are currently being presented with the future of the planet in our hands. People say that human actions are causing what’s known as “anthropogenic climate change” – basically equating to human CO2 emissions causing an increase in global temperatures.

The problem with this is that world governments are being put under pressure to cut human carbon dioxide emissions, threatening industrial and agricultural sectors when still very little is known about the connection between what we as humans output, and how this affects natural climate cycles.

Here is a real world example of when people have looked at only a few of the facts, and made a significant decision that affects the lives of many.

The purpose of the Kyoto Protocol was to limit carbon dioxide emissions globally. The country that arguably enforced it the most stringently with an Emissions Trading Scheme, New Zealand, has failed, and experienced a 25% increase in emissions since 1990.

The result? A $300,000,000 cost to taxpayers to pay off the carbon credits.

So who wins here? The people don’t – they have to face an economic burden. The environment doesn’t – more carbon dioxide is being pumped into the atmosphere. Industry doesn’t – production is limited and they become more inefficient. The only winners here are the policy makers, who fatten their pockets

What if more analysis was made earlier on? What if it was known that 99.9976% of heat retained by CO2 in the atmosphere was retained completely independent of human emissions? This isn’t the place for the complex science, but you can check it out at http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/global-warming-01.html if you’re scientifically inclined!

With this knowledge, surely all this effort and money would be better put to use researching what actually drives our climate, including volcanic activity; solar variations; earth’s orbit around the sun; and others. Of course it is undeniable that the climate is changing, as it has never remained constant in the history of our planet. Sadly, as policy makers have sought to find a simple easy-to-understand answer that they can take action on, they are leading us down the wrong path at our expense.

The investigation of the actual effectiveness was only undertaken later. Scientists were upset at having only isolated patches of their research looked at, with the wider picture being ignored. Consequently, in 2007 one hundred of the world’s top climatologists wrote to the United Nations to argue against what had been decided.

If only a little scepticism had been applied earlier on by the UN policy makers, then it would have been clear that taking carbon emissions wasn’t the right track to go down.

This lesson applies to everything in life. Just because something is intuitively appealing doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. Bear in mind that there is always a place for a little scepticism, especially when large-scale decisions are being made.

With a little more analysis and understanding, we can better work towards having a better place to live in. After all, who wants to be taxed for no good?

Who is Ben Guerin?

Ben Guerin is a New Zealand student who is passionate about how international decisions affect the way we live. He is a member of the International Gateway for Gifted Youth Junior Commission on Climate Change/Sustainability, as well as of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. He has founded Wellington Motivated Young People (WMYP) and plans to write regular articles on a variety of topics to share his views with the world.

 

  • http://mmoorejones.com Michael Moore-Jones

    I first became concerned with being skeptical when I read a book called The Black Swan by a guy called Nassim Nicholas Taleb – I’ve written previously on the topic on TDTYTIS. For anyone interested, check it out here: http://theydontteachyouthisinschool.com/problem-of-induction/

  • http://mmoorejones.com Michael Moore-Jones

    One more comment Ben – I’d be careful when you talk about “policy makers fattening their pockets”. You say it as if policy makers have invented climate change in order to get rich. Policy makers are providing a service to the public to find solutions to world problems, of which climate change has been deemed to be one. Most policy makers are paid a salary that has no link to the view that is shown in their policies, and they function with information available to them.

    I disagree that policy makers work on climate change to fatten their pockets.

    But apart from that, great article!

  • http://www.meterdata.com Meter Data

    Great Article! The website Meter Data has videos from all sorts of places and was specifically designed to show how incredible the world is and just how much energy and technology is available if people really put their minds to it. It is a new site but it might be great info for students who want to broaden their understanding and possibly pursue a career in engineering or even science. There are plenty of technical people who don’t agree with “intuitive appeal” but you don’t see them in the limelight because they are working hard helping others and have little time to talk about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000178728428 Michael Stewart

    Awesome article Ben, I have to say that just your article just reinforced perspectives I have heard many times before, that man is not the cause of climate change. The scientific link that you included within your article was absolutely fantastic. I was still skeptical about your article after reading it but after reading the evidence I am completely convinced. I must say though that it is necessary to cut down on fossil fuel consumption and reduce harmful emissions and that we do need policies that reduce our use of fossil fuels but I feel that it is wrong to try and achieve these ends through lies and deceptions. We need to make sure people know the truth and then we still need to try and reduce fossil fuel consumption even without the huge “green” craze.

  • Harry

    Bottom line: be skeptical about points of view anybody that lives in a country that is impacted by global policies as their point of view will be skewed by local media and personal interest/impact as can be clearly seen above.

  • Lynn Lai

    Hey Michael,

    I heard a speaker a while back on climate change and they said something I think would be worth mentioning – I cannot remember the scientist’s (Hansen? or something like that) name but he mentioned that we were characterising the problem wrong. i.e. that the policies are ineffective and climate change is still happening and at a faster rate. It was a very pragmatic view, but to be fair, he did warn governments a while back about climate change and the dangers but it seemed to be ineffective. So this time around, he said, we are doing it wrong, we need to be facing the disaster and danger before we can be motivated to take action.

    Thought you might find this interesting re: climate change and the views out there.

    Cheers,
    Lynn

  • http://mmoorejones.com Michael Moore-Jones

    Interesting! I’ll try Googling to find out more.