It's my fourth day on steemit and I've encountered my first serious intellectual challenge here. @elamental of Earth Deeds fame has shared with me a thorough 2-part article by @kennyskitchen debunking the mainstream 'consensus' on climate change science, specifically the human-made, CO2 analysis. I'll admit, my instinctive reaction was to roll my eyes. "Oh great. Another mindless conspiraloon out to sabotage the deep green movement..."
Determined to rise to the challenge though, I read Kenny's articles and was pleasantly surprised, not just by how thorough they were but also by how much I agreed with their analysis.
Here are Kenny's two articles;
Before I begin, it bears mentioning that there have been calls recently to 'no-platform' all climate science deniers, refusing to debate with them at all. Some of my personal heroes and sheroes, including the incredible Dr Caroline Lucas MP have signed an open letter in which they explain why they are refusing to lend their credibility to debating climate change skeptics. I can understand where they're coming from. In my lifetime the debates around climate change have been unbearably frustrating; biased in favour of the skeptic perspective against all reason. The signatories to the letter claim that there is nothing substantive to debate with the skeptics, whose position is funded by the fossil fuel lobby.
I've never supported no-platforming and don't think I ever will. The only circumstances in which it's appropriate are to prevent the incitement of violence and hatred. There is the argument that climate change denial does incite violence to the planet, by advocating more burning of CO2. What is problematic about this argument is that the perceived violence is now so widespread and normalised that it requires no incitement. Indeed, the only way to stop it is to 'win', (or resolve) the debate.
No-platforming stinks of intellectual cowardice and prevents learning, so when I received this challenge today, I knew I had a responsibility to respond to it as fully as I possibly could.
One of the most significant points from Kenny's first article is how the focus on 'scientific consensus' is absurd, given that consensus is not by itself a scientific method. "the scientific consensus used to be that the earth was flat". Pretty much every scientific breakthrough ever has, by definition, required a rejection of consensus by an individual, or a small minority of rebels. Furthermore, the #CimateGate emails, the doctoring of data, and the 'hockey stick' graph do all lend themselves to the notion that the 'consensus' might be illusory and that some sort of conspiracy is probably at play.
The second article was the most compelling. It details some of the many other ways in which humanity is destroying the biosphere, some of the individuals, corporations and mobs responsible for this destruction and ends with a list of Kenny's conclusions, which I'll cut and paste here;
- CO2 is not a pollutant
- Most "climate science" is complete fraud
- The biggest polluters on the planet are the military, animal agriculture, and companies like Monsanto
- No matter the problem, more government is NEVER the solution
a. Government is simply the use of violence & coercion against others instead of taking responsibility to change your own life
- The Earth is not warming (at least not linearly, different regions are all warming & cooling separately)
- The Earth is not overpopulated, we can easily feed everyone a well-balanced diet, and eugenics is ALWAYS immoral (not just when the Nazis did it)
- For the first time in history, we have the ability to share the truth faster & wider than the system can spread its lies
EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO CHANGES THE WORLD! Here are some big things you can do to make the world better
a. Stop paying taxes
b. Eat a organic, non-GMO, vegan diet (growing it yourself is best)
c. Stop taking in corporate media of any kind
d. Begin practicing radical personal responsibility, stop acting like a victim or outsourcing responsibility for your actions
e. If someone is trying to convince you to be afraid, chances are they are planning to take advantage of you somehow
The only really significant bone of contention I have with this list (and with Kenny's general analysis) is their first point, regarding the effect of CO2 on the atmosphere. From 'my side' of the debate, this question has been pretty much 'settled' since the Exxon papers leaked. #ExxonKnew #ShellKnew
I've been tracking fossil fuel industry (military industrial complex) propaganda for years now. Exxon publicly pioneered climate science back in the day but stopped publishing their findings in the 70s, once it became clear (to them at least) that the industrial scale of CO2 emissions would likely lead to the abrupt and dramatic changes to Earth's climate which we are witnessing today. They deployed the same PR firm and the same tactics as Big Tobacco had done, namely sowing seeds of doubt in consumer's minds about the certainty of the science. A recent analysis conducted by Carbon Brief investigated 900 recently published scientific papers, all of which cast doubts on climate change or speak against it. They found 9/10 of the most prolific authors were in some way connected with Exxon Mobil.
The net effect of this decades long PR campaign has been to keep industrial society dependent on the oil wells pumping and the coal fires burning, while preventing the growth of sustainable, renewable energy technology and markets.
For these reasons and many more, I believe that CO2 is most likely a pollutant, which is not only accelerating climate chaos but which is also ruining people's health by making the air so toxic that it's causing instances of respiratory disease to rise and life expectancy to fall, dramatically, in all the world's major industrialised cities.
Apart from this though, I thought the rest of Kenny's analysis was pretty much spot on. In spite of disagreeing with their conclusion on CO2 emissions I found the reasoning behind it very interesting, if not entirely persuasive.
If the scientific consensus on CO2 is correct, (as I believe it probably is) it doesn't make any of the rest of Kenny's observations any less correct. Particularly prescient is their research on methane, which is one of a great number of factors which could yet prove more significant in the long term. Some of the projections regarding the potential release of methane that had until recently been trapped in arctic permafrost are particularly dire.
I can agree to disagree with Kenny regarding CO2 emissions, given that I agree with so much of the rest of their analysis. I find it extremely interesting that we should have so much parity on green issues, yet fall into opposing camps because we generally disagree on this one aspect. It makes me wonder if the CO2 angle has been deliberately exploited to create unnecessary disagreements and schisms amongst greenies who might otherwise have been natural allies.
Whether or not these schisms are deliberate, I feel both our camps are left weaker for it.
Ultimately, the 'human-made', CO2 causality aspect is just one of so many causal factors behind the 6th Mass Extinction that it would be foolish not to talk to each other because we disagree on one analysis. While I'm currently inclined to believe the CO2 human-made hypothesis, none of my positions are fixed. To quote Caroline Lucas, "none of us have the monopoly on wisdom"...
I'm glad I took the time to read @kennyskitchen 's articles. I hope this response to them was useful.
Here's a short documentary I made last year, articulating the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, A Second Notice. CO2 emissions are just one of many aspects covered in it.