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Typos Don't Make Climate Change a Myth [Science]


"I'm a natural sceptic," a British-born web publisher says to explain his recent Tweets expressing doubt about the validity of the science behind climate change. Coincidentally, that's the same argument used by everyone who prefers conspiracy theories to science.


Autism conspiracists tell you to be skeptical of the entire medical community (they are pretty sure some of them are paid by drug companies!) and to trust, instead, in Jenny McCarthy. 9/11 truthers tell you to be skeptical of the government (which is often a good default position) and also of most professional engineers, aviators, and other assorted experts (a little more dodgy). Birthers are skeptical of reality. Skepticism is certainly a virtue, but in the internet age, it basically means "preferring to believe what one guy tells you over what the so-called establishment tells you." And the guy often has a vested interest in telling you not to believe the so-called establishment.


Take climate change skeptics. They would prefer to not ever have any aspect of our unsustainable society reined in, at all, especially the bits that involve burning coal and driving cars and stuff.


Over in Britain, their papers have been going nuts over the revelation of errors in the last report form the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There were two legitimate (but fairly inconsequential) errors in the report that were promptly corrected. The errors did not have anything to do with the question of whether or not climate change is real and human-driven. But, whatever! Cry "scandal" and let slip the "-gate" suffix!


When it comes to the question of climate science, I trust climatologists a lot more than British journalists. Have you ever met a British journalist? First of all, they're all alcoholics. Secondly, and more importantly, journalists the world over don't understand science. I don't understand science! I rely on scientists for that. But journalists do understand scandal very well. They are experts in scandal.


So what you have here are basically conservative bloggers relying on the scientific illiteracy of journalists to trump up errors (real and wholly imagined) in a report that is a summary of established science, which reliably turns into stories asserting that the evidence behind climate change is "in doubt."


And now the same British people who are all getting the measles again because they're scared of autism don't believe in global warming anymore, because it snowed.


One of this British publisher's examples of supposed major threats that turned out to have been overhyped (by the generalist media, keep in mind, and not usually by those cursed "experts") is "acid rain." The funny thing about that particular overhyped threat is that it went away because it was combated by determined government action. Our government-hating Libertarian friends at Reason magazine actually just named acid rain reduction as one of their five reasons Libertarians shouldn't hate Big Government!


(Also of note: the fact that a local internet entrepreneur saw some snow in SoHo was for some reason newsworthy enough for Tucker Carlson's Daily Carlson to make it their lead story this morning. Haven't any more of your contributors been hit by cars or anything?)


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