Are scientists (especially climatologists) just false prophets?

Climate change is so hot right now, and today I stumbled upon an hard-hitting article by Charles Battig in American Thinker. The introduction of the article is a beautiful description of how scientists are positively viewed by society, that we impartially seek out facts, describe the natural world, and try to do work that will benefit society (a man after my own heart). Turns out this is just a setup for claiming that scientists are being swayed out of this esteemed position by pandering to political classes (womp womp). Battig then turns to climate change and the science behind it. Mostly the article makes the same old tired claims against science and climate change, but there are a few new ones. Below are a few of Battig’s statements I thought should be addressed.

Once a relatively obscure field of scientific interest, climatology has become front-page news, and a battleground of competing claims of theory and verifiable knowledge.

That’s weird. I’m no historian, but it seems that climate science has been around for a long, long, long time (like since the Chinese Song dynasty). And why wouldn’t it be, humans and scientists have a tendency to pay attention to what is going on around them and when things start to change, more interest is payed to them. Not to mention that technology fuels what we study. As tools to measure phenomenon are developed, we pay start measuring these phenomenon and pay more attention to them (satellites to monitor global weather patterns).

The public is left confused and at the mercies of inadequate media reporting, itself a source of one-sided advocacy commentary.

Battig is correct that the media reporting for climate change is inadequate. Media Matters found that despite the scientific consensus supporting climate change, news media disproportionately included coverage of ‘dissenters’ of climate change (~97% of papers published and a ton of scientific organizations support this theory, here and heremore here). Guess Battig wants us to ignore all of that.

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We are categorized as “carbon-based life forms.”  Carbon dioxide is an inherent and necessary chemical component of all such life.  Photosynthesis and the role of carbon dioxide describe the dance of nature by which the carbon dioxide produced by our bodies is part of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that feeds the plants, which in turn produce the oxygen we need to live.

This is a very pretty tree-hugging statement. First, remember that all things should be considered in proportion and in context. Potassium is essential for life, but we use it to kill people (high doses will stop your heart). Oxygen is also necessary for life, but superoxides harm DNA and kill cells. Second, the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the ‘dance of nature’ is quite different than the amount produced by the ‘dance of industry.” Instead of ‘dancing’ with nature, humans have plowed over it with a MAC truck. We have wiped out forests that would process carbon dioxide, meanwhile producing tons and tons of additional industrial carbon dioxide. This has completely shifted any delicate balance that would exist normally in nature.

Federally mandated cures for nonexistent carbon pollution will inflict real heath harm as the less advantaged are forced to pay more for basic energy needs.  More expensive heating and cooling bills will be added to more expensive basic food as farmland is used to grow fuel stock produce.  More expensive gasoline will hinder trips to the doctor.  More expensive transportation and manufacturing processes will increase the cost of living for all and lower the standard of living for many.  Bad science kills.

I would classify this under straight-up fear mongering. Most of these seem to be baseless claims. And If you are going to go after federal mandated programs, don’t forget to mention the many other federal programs to address these issues specifically. Like pushes for sustainable, cheaper forms of energy, more gasoline efficient cars, and more efficient and cheaper healthcare. Recent work already suggests that increased levels of carbon dioxide will harm agriculture and the nutrition of our food, so its hard to really believe that this is a nonexistent pollution (previous post about that study).

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