NEWSLETTER
Subscribe now to receive FPJ's free weekly news digest

Money, Politics and the Science of Global Warming

ice-collapse

If there is an issue that should not be a function of one’s political opinion, human-induced climate change is it. Tthis is a scientific issue; its veracity should be based on the data underpinning it. The rise in temperature predicted by researchers will have a devastating impact on humanity, and the diverse life, animal and plant, of our wonderful planet, well into the future.  It should be of concern to us all, rich and poor.

However, it seems that some ultra-rich powerful people are determined to use their wealth to distort and vilify the work of reputable scientists and researchers, who conclude that global warming is real.  Their research shows that it is human-induced, resulting primarily from greenhouse gas emissions, with CO2 being the most prominent from our dependence on fossil fuels for our energy needs.  The Independent, under the title “Top Climate Scientist Denounces Billionaires over Funding for Climate-sceptic Organizations” reports:

Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania University, who has been targeted by climate-change sceptics for his work on global temperature records, said it was wrong for wealthy individuals such as the oil billionaire Charles Koch to surreptitiously finance the “counter-movement” that denounces the science of global warming.

It is all very well for scientists, a small minority of whom are genuinely skeptical about human-induced climate change, to argue honestly on the basis of scientific knowledge and predictions; it is quite another to use money in this way to twist the facts. The use of money and political clout by those who directly benefit from the use of fossil fuel and its attendant greenhouse emissions should be condemned by all of us who value honesty and facts.

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics, Australian National University, in his book “Requiem for a Species” cites studies in the US that document the relationship between the political beliefs of the individual and his/her attitude to human-induced climate change.  Whereas in 1997 there was little difference between Republican and Democrat voters in their views on global warming, by 2008 a strong correlation developed, with 59%  of Republican believing that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated compared with 17% of Democrats; a recent study by Edward Maibach et al concludes:

The segments that are more concerned about global warming tend to be more politically liberal and to hold strong egalitarian and environmental values. The less concerned segments are more politically conservative, hold anti-egalitarian and strongly individualistic values, and are more likely to be evangelical with strongly traditional religious beliefs.

This political bias seems to have developed in spite of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) that has concluded that “Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced” and adding:

Impacts are expected to become increasingly severe for more people and places as the amount of warming increases. Rapid rates of warming would lead to particularly large impacts on natural ecosystems and the benefits they provide to humanity. Some of the impacts of climate change will be irreversible, such as species extinctions and coastal land lost to rising seas.

It is profoundly disturbing that in the case of global warming, its existence, severity and its impact should be part of an individual’s ideology instead of scientific evidence. The US matters, and such a distortion of science could have consequences that will affect all of life on earth.

The importance of the US engaging honestly in the most important problem facing humanity in the very near future could be appreciated by comparing the per capita emissions of the US to that of developing countries.  Research by Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax, cited in the book (Requiem for a Species), is presented thus:

Making a number of reasonable assumptions for various countries about fertility rates and future per capita carbon emissions, the researchers estimate that the carbon legacy of the average female [through the generations] in the US is 18500 tonnes of CO2, while that of a Bangladeshi woman is only 136 tonnes.  In other words, the future stream of carbon emissions following a decision by an American couple to have an extra child is 130 times greater than that of a decision by a Bangladeshi couple… this is of course the most extreme case, but even comparing the carbon legacies of parents in the US and China gives a factor of nearly five.

Would the ultra-rich globally be as affected by climate change as the rest of humanity? In the short term they could use their wealth to mitigate many of its detrimental effects; they could move to other countries if they had to.  But a rise in temperature above 3 or 4 degrees Celsius is likely to produce abrupt irreversible changes that will eventually overwhelm our technological wizardry.

Politicizing (in the US) the greatest threat to life on our planet in this way is a tragedy for humanity that could have devastating consequences for billions of lives.

Print Friendly

About the Author

Adnan Al-Daini

Twitter
Dr Adnan Al-Daini (PhD Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Adnan is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. 
  • Kestrel

    I believe global warming has changed its name to global climate change. That way no matter what happens they will always be right. Whether man has any significant impact on the climate of the earth at this time is yet to be proven. One important component in the causation of climate change which is barely mentioned is how the actual changes in the space environment in which our planet resides impacts the experienced environment on the earth. We are seeing significant planet wide changes in the environments of the rest of the planets in our solar system — what is causing this? The earth has experienced drastic planet wide climate change many times — from ice ages to warming periods much warmer than what is predicted by the climate change zealots of today. What forces caused these extreme fluctuations? If volcanic – what caused the increase in volcanic activity? You are right–when ever politics is involved in the equation the truth will always be manipulated and hidden to achieve a political end. http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/08jan_sunclimate/

  • Kestrel

    Recommend you review the information provided at this youtube site. http://www.youtube.com/user/Suspicious0bservers?feature=watch

  • Adnan Al-Daini

    Thank you for your comments, pointing out the uncertainty of whether the warming is significantly human-induced. The links you provided are interesting and informative; I may use them in a future article. You summed up the article well with: “whenever politics is involved in the equation the truth will always be manipulated and hidden to achieve a political end.” Amen to that.

  • Jim Miles

    Did you read the NASA site yourself? If so did you miss this section:

    Raymond Bradley of UMass, who has studied historical records of solar activity imprinted by radioisotopes in tree rings and ice cores, says that regional rainfall seems to be more affected than temperature. “If there is indeed a solar effect on climate, it is manifested by changes in general circulation rather than in a direct temperature signal.” This fits in with the conclusion of the IPCC and previous NRC reports that solar variability is NOT the cause of global warming over the last 50 years.

  • Adnan Al-Daini

    You are right, and my previous comment was a general one and did not intend to question the details in the report. Of course, the correlation between the presence of greenhouse gases, CO2 being the prominent one, and temperature over hundreds of thousands of years are remarkable, as acknowledged in the second link. While a small number of scientists argue about other factors contributing to the rise in global temperatures, it is imperative that humanity acts on what we can control, namely our CO2 emissions. By massively investing in renewable energy sources, we can stimulate sustainable economic growth, creating employment for our youth in the US and Europe. Humanity cannot afford to wait

  • Al Bore

    Get up to date:
    *Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets ruled by corporations and trustworthy politicians
    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
    *Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses.
    *In all of the debates Obama hadn’t planned to mention climate change once.
    Meanwhile, the entire world of SCIENCE, lazy copy and paste news editors and obedient journalists, had condemned our kids to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated “crisis” and had allowed bank-funded and corporate-run “CARBON TRADING STOCK MARKETS” to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 26 years of insane attempts at climate CONTROL.

  • jen

    It amazes me how easily the facts about global warming can be manipulated. Similarly, it’s hard to believe that so many people still ignore the real threat that exists and that may have detrimental consequences for all of us, if the warnings are not heeded. That’s why I’m glad that I live in a city whose inhabitants are fighting the threat of global warming by taking part in the so-called Greenest City 2020 Action Plan whose aim is to eliminate the negative impact that our actions have on the environment. And global warming is one of the key areas in which the right decisions, if put into practice, may produce the desired effect even in the short term.

  • http://whatreallyhappened.com Michael Rivero

    Another piece of carbonazi propaganda claiming that global warming critics like myself are receiving vast amounts of cash for our work. When the Independent ran that claim a week back, I publicly dared them to show that I had received any money from any oil company for pointing out the flaws in the global warming hysteria (not the least of which that Earth has been cooling for the last 15 years). Needless to say, nobody has provided any such proof. This is a smear campaign to evade the reality that the dire predictions of the carbonazis have simply not materialized. We still have snow, even though ten years ago we were told that snow would be a thing of the past. Greenland still has all of its ice, even though we are now half-way through the 20 years we were told would lead to the vanishing of Greenland’s ice sheet. The carbonazis are trying to mask their failure by changing the “brand” from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”, as is climate change is not something that has always happened and always will happen on Planet Earth. There has never been a time where the climate was not changing. Solar radiation and the oscillating shape of the Earth’s orbit are the dominant forces at work. End of story.

    • http://www.jeremyrhammond.com Jeremy R. Hammond

      Thanks for weighing in, Mike.

  • Lamrack Lysenko

    Why, those who deny human-caused Global Warming, er, Climate Change are the same ones who deny Israeli Morality, the Holocaust ™ and that the Moon is made of Green Cheese!
    In my country it is against the law to deny the Moon is made of Green Cheese. Evidence to the contrary be damned! The law is the law!!!
    In closing, kids, believe what the authorities tell you no matter how much you may reason otherwise. Who are you going to believe? Them, or your lying eyes???

  • Adnan Al-Daini

    Readers may find this interesting:

  • Fida Ahmed Advocate

    Global Warming is an alarming issue and we must not relax in the hope that its perceived threat may not be ‘as serious’. What if it is! Or should we be as oblivious of it as we are of the hereafter and playing havoc with human values for the sake of money?

    • Adnan Al-Daini

      I couldn’t agree more, well said.

  • Adnan Al-Daini

    I couldn’t agree more, well said.

  • Benumea Maples Otter

    What a scam: “Global Warming” first to “Climate Change” after! this article only confirms the absence of scientific method and irrefutable proof! Not a single scientific, documented, irrefutable proof….only cheesy arguments, postures and baby cries. Sermonizing with nauseating repetitive ignorance the same soap opera dialogues. The epitome of this ridicule travesty is the political and religious references Dr. Adnan Al-Daini relays upon:

    “59% of Republican believing that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated compared with 17% of Democrats; a recent study by Edward Maibach et al concludes:
    The segments that are more concerned about global warming tend to be more politically liberal and to hold strong egalitarian and environmental values. The less concerned segments are more politically conservative, hold anti-egalitarian and strongly individualistic values, and are more likely to be evangelical with strongly traditional religious beliefs.”

    The raw sprout-seed eaters should be ashamed when is been proven that the only groups soaking money from companies and government grants are the self appointed exceptionalist -creationist-alarmists Al Goreians.

    These professional scarecrows, cherry peak a (4.3859649122807017543859649122807e-8) trend in time and place to impose their baseless conclusions on the geological, atmospheric, climatic, and biochemical 99.99999995614035087719298245614% history of the planet, with the sole propose of seeing the future in their magical Kristal ball. Making millions in the process…and worst of all….producing NO SOLUTIONS! ZERO!! NADA! to their own cacamimi predictions!

    That’s the reason the Al-Goreians ALWAYS talk and make references to catastrophic events within 50 -100 or 200 years years in the future, time enough to take the money and RUN!!!!

    I have news for them the planet ALWAYS have been and will be in continuous CLIMATE CHANGES…FOR EVER!

    Some hot some cold……..live with it!

    Human emissions are but a “puff” in this process which by the way comes from the earth it self …..stop mining coal, or extracting oil and lets comfortably seat and see what happens.