This is part 7 in the series on the prediction that glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2020. You might want to see to part 1, part2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6 if you haven’t already.
The last six posts were about the prediction that the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020. I also delved deeper in the relation of this prediction with a similar prediction that the glaciers would be gone by 2030, making the case that the 2020 prediction was an update of the 2030 prediction (contrary to how it is reported in most media).
Now you could object that this looks like nit-picking. Glaciers are shrinking anyway, that is also clear from previous post, so what does it matter whether someone made a wrong prediction of how long the remaining glaciers would last. The discussion whether the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020 or 2030 seems small change compared to the big picture that they will be gone in the future.
I could somewhat understand such objection, but I think there is much more to it than that.
When researching previous post, I came across the article in the Guardian on James Hansen stating that “Obama had only four years to halt devastating climate change”. When I finished that post, I wondered how many other similar claims (in the form of “number of years/months to save the planet/world”) were there in Guardian articles.
As expected there were more than the one I accidentally bumped into. This post will be about the first article I found, there will be a follow-up post on the others.
That first article that I found is titled “Ten years to save the planet from mankind“, written by Gaby Hinsliff and published on 29 Oct 2006. Its subject is the Stern report that was published a day later (it is striking how the Guardian succeeds to know what is in a report before it is published). It was initially not really clear what the “from mankind” in the title is about.
There was quite some fuss in the media about a paper claiming there is a climate emergency, supported by a list of 11,000 signatures of scientists. I didn’t had much time back then, so I just downloaded the list of signatories to look at it later.
The petition was held at the site of the Alliance of World Scientists and it links to the article World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency (where the list of signatories is downloadable). There are five authors and at the Alliance of World Scientists web page, the petition list is put right behind the authors. suggested that all those signatories are scientists on par with the authors:
The number of signatories is not shown anymore because there was an issue with, ahem, “invalid signatures”. That is a nice way to say that some crazy input were found in that list. In the meanwhile I also read a CBC news article in which the lead author was asked about the inclusion of a certain “Micky Mouse” as one of the signatories. This was his answer:
Continuing from previous two posts on the “interview” of Nic Balthazar, something that was clear from the beginning was that Balthazar was not very keen on “realism”. I certainly can understand why and will explain it later in this post. One of those realists that Balhazar looked down on is a certain “climate critic” (whatever that may be) (translated from Dutch):
A climate critic was in De Morgen (Belgian newspaper) this weekend and he said two things a) that two percent [sic], that is not enough anyway, also we should not cheer about it. Even if we get there, it would be far too little and 2) [sic] there are many other important things for many people on this planet, namely, do I survive today? Do I survive this week?
My first thought was that it must be Bjørn Lomborg. He got, to my surprise (and that of many others), interviewed in that (left-wing) newspaper only about two weeks ago. I knew that Lomborg indeed claims that there are more important things than climate, but then, as far as I knew, he didn’t claim that “two degrees is not enough/far too little”.
The doctor’s analogy is frequently used in climate change communication. In most cases, it goes like this: “Wouldn’t you go with the advises of your doctor when he tells you …?” or “When you have cancer would you go to a cardiologist?”. Last Sunday I saw that doctor enter the analogy in a different way in the interview of Nic Balthazar in the current events program “De 7de dag” (see previous post) (translated from Dutch):
Screenshot of “de 7de dag” of December 16, 2018. Nic Balthazar: making the doctor’s analogy
You should really have to compare to, an unpleasant comparison, the doctors come and they say, madam and sir, your child has cancer. At the moment, it could still be contained, we can operate, do chemo therapy, everything. It is going to cost, it will be difficult, hard and all, but we can get that child to recover. And when you now talk about our economy, we can really come out of this better. We can, with renewable energy, cleaner air, end up in a much safer life in geopolitics. But it will be difficult. Would that father and mother then say, yes but, pfff, it’s a bit too expensive? No, they will not do that. We [sic] are going to say: whatever it takes. Just look at Music for Life, everything is possible at that moment. And yet we do not do it, and an annoying comparison, one single child that have cancer, but we are talking about all the children of the world.
and also later this emotional appeal (translated from Dutch):
Some believe that we, due to rising temperatures as a result of our emissions, might be close to a tipping point and will experience irreversible changes for the worse. One of those is Nic Balthazar. He made the claim as a guest in the current affairs show “De 7de dag” (the 7th day) of last Sunday. He was invited there to comment on the COP 24 climate conference in Catowice. Nic Balthazar, a Belgian film director and a TV/radio personality, is also a co-founder of “Klimaatzaak” (an organization that filed legal action to force the federal and regional governments to improve their climate policies). The latter position is why he was invited.
He had mixed feelings about the conference. On the one hand, he was glad that some agreement was made, considering how many countries were present and all had to come to a consensus. On the other hand he was disappointed (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):
On the other hand, it is the again incomprehensible that they didn’t want to listen to what all the scientists say today.
The starting point of the Guardian article “There are genuine climate alarmists, but they’re not in the same league as deniers” is a tweet from Richard Betts (screenshot taken from the article):
Betts writes that he considers skepticalscience political because their “misinformers” page doesn’t include those on the climate action side. Culminating in the question whether skepticalscience also should debunk climate alarmists.
This is the reaction of Dana to this tweet:
There is some validity to these critiques, and in response, Skeptical Science is renaming the page Climate misinformation by source.‘ But the site is run entirely by a team of international volunteers, and as such, opportunity costs must be considered. Time devoted to refuting alarmists is time not devoted to debunking the constant deluge of climate denial.
That “response” of skepticalscience didn’t make much sense to me initially: simply renaming that page doesn’t counter the “no alarmists refutations” critique of Betts. Unless they added some climate alarmists to that page of course. So I visited that “misinformers” page to see whether this was the case. That page looks a bit different now than it did before. In the past, that page was a simple list of “misinformers” with their photo: