There are polls out there that show people believe there are extensive amounts of disagreement in the scientific community about anthropogenic climate change, however, when it comes to peer reviewed work—the gold standard of the scientific community—a very different picture emerges. James Lawrence Powell of DeSmogBlog conducted research on peer-reviewed literature discussing climate change, searching work published between Jan. 1, 1991 and Nov. 9, 2012, and found that only 23 articles, out of nearly 14,000 that he looked up, read abstracts for and/or read the entire piece, rejected anthropogenic climate change. 23…out of nearly 14,000.
That rejection came in one of two forms: either something other than human-caused carbon emissions is responsible, or they simply reject the idea altogether. The rest support it in at least some fashion.
Despite this, and the fact that this is not the first time such a project has been done and gotten similar results, the climate change deniers persist in their it’s-all-a-hoax agenda. An open letter to none other than Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon of the U.N. in the Financial Post claims that the secretary-general’s statements about extreme weather being tied to anthropogenic climate change, and that our carbon emissions are to blame, are not supported by science. The letter talks about no appreciable warming occurring over the last sixteen years, and that restrictive, costly policies espoused by the U.N. are not the answer to handling extreme weather.
The letter is wrong on there being no warming, as the author cherry-picked his data to reach that conclusion. The website Skeptical Science did a good job debunking all the claims in that letter.
An op-ed in Forbes calls climate change the crime of the century, going much further than saying it’s a mere hoax. This piece discusses the idea that carbon dioxide is less of a greenhouse gas than water vapor, and that solar activity accounts for 75% of the temperature changes we see. That second claim apparently comes from the Marshall Institute, which is heavily funded by Exxon. It is, in a way, true, but also badly cherry-picked: scientists who have studied how solar activity affects the planet say it does so on a regional, not a global, level, and that our current run-up to a weaker-than-usual solar maximum is not responsible for extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy. In general, these researchers say that solar activity is not responsible for the planet-wide temperature increases we’ve seen over the last century.
The Forbes article also looks at the potential costs of actually addressing carbon emissions, saying that, according to the U.N., the global cost would be more than $500 trillion (with a “t”).
However, Andrew Guzman, a researcher who has studied difficult-to-solve economic problems such as entrenched poverty, trade wars, and economic recessions, reminds people of the cost of not doing a thing. Climate change can change the environment around us, creating not just more in the way of extreme storms, but also droughts and actual shifts in the different types of climates that currently exist. This can cause water shortages, which can lead to more widespread famine and, as a result, war over the world’s ever-scarcer natural resources.
These problems will compound the problem of overpopulation. Energy demands will compound the problem of water resources, especially so-called “clean coal” technology, which is very water-intensive. A study in National Geographic estimates that, by 2035, water consumption for energy production will double, rising to 135 billion cubic meters per year, from the 66 billion we currently use worldwide.
And yet, to climate deniers, the initial cost in terms of dollars is far more important than a future they can’t clearly see and may not live to see. For some, it’s about business profit. For others, it’s about business profit being a red herring and governments trying to seize control. For many, it’s likely just a fear of major changes to the way the world works.
The bottom line is, they don’t want to do anything because they don’t want to make the difficult changes that are necessary, and will continue to foment disagreement in the general public regardless of the fact that there is a scientific consensus supporting anthropogenic climate change.