SLAVEN: The Four Questions To Ask Climate Change Alarmists

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Eugene Slaven Freelance Writer
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Regardless of which side of the climate change debate you’re on, the debate’s policy outcomes are consequential. If climate change is an existential threat, you have the duty to do something about it. If you believe climate change is largely an alarmist creation, then you will want to prevent alarmists from infringing on our liberties to avert a fictitious crisis.

For us skeptics –  or “deniers” as we’re sometimes known – winning hearts and minds has proven inordinately difficult. The Alarmist Triumvirate of popular culture, most media, and most global political institutions, is a highly formidable opponent thanks to numbers and reach.

The dilemma for the skeptics is somewhat analogous to how an outnumbered army might fight a much bigger, much better-resourced opponent. As history demonstrates, the absolute worst strategy is to launch a direct, frontal attack. Unfortunately, that is precisely what us skeptics have been doing.

The frontal assault in the climate change context centers around talking points on the absurdity of accurately predicting long-term weather patterns, the efficacy of curbing emissions, and these programs’ economic impacts. While these are logical rebuttals, they do not weaken the triumvirate, which bombards skeptics with the 97% consensus claim. You can point to the climate’s undeniable capriciousness, but in the face of the 97% Consensus™ counterattack, the neutral parties will view you as the anti-science dolt.

The alternative is to force alarmists to defend key claims with concrete figures. Remarkably, alarmists have been mostly spared from the rigors of the scientific method. This is why they’ve gotten away with inane assertions about average global temperature increases and alleged increases in the frequency of hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

However, skeptics’ frontal attacks enable alarmists to debate climate change with zero nuance and unbending conviction that scientists have always cautioned against across every other discipline. Immutable scientific assumptions — most notably that the very nature of science demands that nothing is above questioning — are swept aside in favor of dismissing climate change skeptics as peddlers of scientific heresy.

To force alarmists into an actual scientific discussion, every debate on climate change should be grounded in these four questions.

1. Why is the change in global temperature between 1875 and today significant?

Here’s the Weather.gov table showing the average annual temperature by year from 1875 to 2021. During this period, the temperature fluctuated to 56.3 F, up 3.8 degrees from 52.5 F in 1875. Is that good, bad, or neutral? I honestly could not tell you. But according to the alarmists, this rise represents an existential threat. It’s time for them to explain why. Would any increase in temperature over this period constitute a cause for concern? A 2 degree increase? How about a 0.7 degree increase? Yes, no, maybe, and above all, why? This critical question forces alarmists to concede that “global warming is bad” is not a scientific argument.

2. How do you explain periods of global “cooling”?

Between 1934 and 2019, the average temperature dropped from 55.3 to 53.6 degrees. How do alarmists account for the 1.7 degree drop in this 85 year span? Why was the world warmer in 1934 than in 2019? And lest you’re accused of selection bias or some other such statistical chicanery, this data sample covers 85 years of the 146-year period. Curiously, the temperature increased from 53.6 in 2019 to 55.7 in 2020 — even though 2020 saw a sharp pandemic-driven decrease in CO2 emissions. The small sample size notwithstanding, this sort of granular analysis is entirely absent from the debate. Maybe there’s a reason for the occasional inverse relationship between CO2 and temperature — but has anyone ever explained it?

3. How much warming is okay before disaster strikes?

The Paris Agreement declares that the “goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F), compared to pre-industrial levels.” But where did this number come from? No, seriously, how did scientists arrive at this number? Could alarmists produce a study showing how limiting temperature increases would save the planet?

Ask this question, sit back and enjoy your rhetorical checkmate.

4. What percent decrease in CO2 emissions will achieve the desired decrease in temperature?

The alarmists’ thesis implicitly boils down to this: if we decrease carbon emissions by X, global temperature increases will be limited by Y. But how does the Agreement’s emissions reduction proposal limit increases? If you’re going to argue that cutting CO2 emissions by nearly half in the next decade will limit global warming, at least show your work. Together with the alarmists’ inability to explain how much global warming is acceptable and how much is catastrophic, this gap in logic presents a perfect point of attack.

We’ve all heard the 97% Consensus™ claim ad nauseam. Where does it come from and who are the dissenting 3 percent? Presumably, they’re reputable scientists, or they would not be included in the breakdown. Is it fair to dismiss them because they’re in the minority, thereby subjecting science to majoritarian rule?” Are there 3% of reputable scientists who believe the earth is flat or that heart transplants are impossible or that nuclear physics is fake?

Could the positive results bias or the file drawer effect partially account for the 97% figure? How about the stark discrepancy in grants available to scientists who sound the alarm on global warming vs. the skeptics?

The claim that “the science is settled” is of course itself anti-scientific. Science is never settled. Newton settled it, then Einstein unsettled it, then Bohr settled it, and so on. Most scientists understand that every scientific discipline, with the notable exception of climate change, advances. Scientists who normally concede the fallibility of science gloss over the climate change debate without a shred of skepticism.

I, like probably most skeptics, blame politics. However, this assessment does nothing to weaken the alarmists’ position. It absolves opponents from having to argue concrete numbers and leaves them in a position they’re comfortable defending. These four questions force them to pull out numbers, which, as it turns out, are the death knell for the triumvirate’s position.

Eugene Slaven is a freelance writer, and the author of the comic novel, A Life of Misery and Triumph and the political thriller, The Sorghum Saga. He is the founder of humorquotient.net, a hub for relentlessly original satirical comedy.”

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.