I was struck a few days ago by a story reporting a preliminary calculation of the global average temperature for 2008. It began:
“2008 will be coolest year of the decade
Global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, but cooler temperature is not evidence that global warming is slowing, say climate scientists
This year is set to be the coolest since 2000, according to a preliminary estimate of global average temperature that is due to be released next week by the Met Office. The global average for 2008 should come in close to 14.3C, which is 0.14C below the average temperature for 2001-07.”
It continues with speculation that sceptics will seize on the data, before noting that in fact 2008 is historically warm by historical standards: ‘ “Even in the 80s [this year] would have felt like a warm year” ‘, noted Myles Allen. The article discusses some of the reasons for variation around a steadily warming trend.
Only towards the end of the article do we learn that: “Assuming the final figure is close to 14.3C then 2008 will be the tenth hottest year on record.” This should be the headline. Nearly every year for the last couple of decades has been significantly warmer than every year in earlier decades of the 20th century, as shown by the chart in the online version of the Guardian’s article.
This is pathetic.
It struck me that the coalition of those concerned about GW are practically in acceptance of an abusive relationship with the denialists. They’re like a housewife terrified of what will happen if she doesn’t have dinner on the table the minute her tormentor returns home. The Guardian article may have been spun to provoke “debate”, or the line may have been taken unconciously. But, if editorial policy is to warn of the dangers of GW, then the paper adopts the mindset of the abusee by accepting that an unreasoning response is even on the agenda. The article (or the press release it is based on) can practically be paraphrased as: “I’ve let you down, beat me up”. I’ve probably taken the analogy too far already and upset someone, but at the risk of keeping digging when in a hole, maybe, in the case of the GW “debate”, the relationship can at least be redefined.
Having accepted the denialist agenda, the good guys find themselves on the defensive. This week George Monbiot has devoted yet another column to tackling the denialists. He notes that:
“The most popular article on the Guardian’s website last week was the report showing that 2008 is likely to be the coolest year since 2000. As the Met Office predicted, global temperatures have been held down by the La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean. This news prompted a race on the Guardian’s comment thread to reach the outer limits of idiocy. Of the 440 responses posted by lunchtime yesterday, about 80% insisted that manmade climate change is a hoax.”
Totally predictable, since the ball was teed up for the nutters.
George uses the title: “Cyberspace has buried its head in a cesspit of climate change gibberish”. Well cyberspace is a cesspit of porn as well, but people have long-since given up on banging on about it.
Look, don’t give the denialists the attention they want. Let them shout themselves hoarse. And especially don’t anticipate their “argument” and then profess surprise when it is expressed in a thousand tedious blog postings. You don’t hear Gordon Brown saying: “The PSBR is about to break all records, but…”, because no-one would be listening, as the perhaps unfairly treated Lynford Christie would have put it, after the “b” of “but”.
Make your case, not your opponents’.