Fighting the lies about climate change
Despite what some of us may think of ourselves, opinion columnists are no more infallible than any other common man and sometimes react to erroneous or incomplete information and in so doing commit the venal sin of disinformation. This is not intentional, and any columnist with even a crude understanding of the importance of ethical practice and credibility, once the error is revealed, will revise their views accordingly.
The evil cousin of disinformation is disinformation, the deliberate act of spreading false or grossly distorted information in order to confuse and mislead the public. Most people are familiar with this as “fake news”, and it is universally viewed as immoral and harmful. Most traditional and social media platforms have become increasingly proactive in challenging and, where possible, suppressing “fake news”. While this has generated some soft protests – usually from the worst offenders – against restrictions on “free speech”, the consensus is that directly tackling disinformation is right and appropriate and letting it persist is irresponsible.
Recently – on May 22 and 25, to be exact – patently false and dangerously misleading claims on the subject of climate change and precisely fitting the definition of disinformation have been widely disseminated among the news-consuming public here in the Philippines. As it would be unethical to allow these assertions to go unchallenged and uncorrected – despite the narrow and minority fringe of discontent in the society from which they emanate – I will address them here briefly.
The first lie: there is no climate fund
An important feature of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Mitigating Climate Change is that the world’s richest economies (which are also the world’s biggest polluters) would contribute amounts substantial to a fund that smaller economies could use to finance climate change. mitigation and adaptation in their own country. In an opinion piece on May 22, the astonishing claim was made that “The climate fund … is a dead letter in the Paris Agreement. It will not happen. Not a single dollar does. was paid into the fund. “
The only thing that is not an outright lie about this declaration is that there is not “one” fund, there are many – four of which are under the umbrella of the Framework Convention. United Nations on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which leads the Paris Agreement. : the Global Climate Fund (GCF), the Adaptation Fund (AF), the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).
Apart from the UNFCCC, there are many other climate funds managed by multilateral development banks such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank; bilateral funds managed by individual governments; funds created by foundations and faith-based organizations; and regional funds for developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. As of Thursday, according to a constantly updated public database maintained by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are a total of 99 climate-specific funds around the world.
The second lie: the United States is not part of the Paris Agreement
The author of the May 22 article speculated that the reason the “fund did not materialize” is that “the United States, which was to contribute the most to the fund, withdrew from the Agreement. from Paris”.
Indeed, he did, on the orders of the discredited former fascist president of the United States in 2017; if memory serves, the same writer, clearly a supporter of Cheeto Mussolini, hailed this decision as a righteous decision at the time.
The United States and its money officially joined the Paris Agreement on Friday, February 19 of this year, through an executive order signed by current US President Joseph R. Biden.
The third lie: sea level rise does not happen
In the May 22 article, the author argued that climate-induced sea level rise does not occur at all or is dramatically exaggerated. To support this argument, he presented “evidence” from an article written in The Epoch Times by a certain H. Sterling Burnett, whose climatology qualifications are roughly those of the average Starbuck barista: a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and a doctorate in applied philosophy.
In the article, Burnett cited flawed data from 1993 which showed that the average sea level in the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu had actually declined over the previous decade. What Burnett omitted, however, is that further study over the next 10 years found that sea level in Tuvalu is in fact rising at a rate similar to that of the rest of the world – an average of d ‘about 5.6 millimeters per year.
The sources of information in support of Burnett’s Epoch Times article are called “Climate at a Glance” and “Climate Change Weekly”. Both are maintained by the Heartland Institute, a far-right “think tank” dedicated to, among other things, climate change denial; the material Burnett cited in the Epoch Times article was actually written by Burnett himself for the other websites.
The Epoch Times, incidentally, is owned and regarded as the newsletter of the far-right religious cult Falun Gong, whose founder claimed to be an outsider, able to walk through walls and make himself invisible.
The Fourth Lie: Scientists Conspire to ‘Push’ Climate Change
In the May 25 article, the writer dwelled at length on the subject of a supposed conspiracy among “climate scientists” to advance the climate change agenda, knowing full well that there is no not. As proof of this claim, he cites a December 2009 column written by Conservative columnist George Will for the Washington Post, in which Will details the plot revelations found in emails from the UK’s Climate Research Unit (CRU).
Selectively ignoring tracking information that drastically alters initial preconceptions appears to be a habit in some people and can only be the result of laziness, incompetence, or malicious intent.
The CRU emails and other documents – which were stolen in a cyber attack – initially raised concerns and led to a number of high-level investigations by the UK and US governments, as well than an independent investigation by Pennsylvania State University. While investigators concluded that scientists at CRU should make procedural changes to make the information more accessible to the public, none of the six investigations in total found that the researchers were withholding or altering data, as had been alleged. .
No we are not going to argue about you
In both offending columns, the writer resorted to a tactic favored by conspiracy theorists around the world (it’s especially popular with “flat lands”), defying the authorities – in this case, the Climate Change Commission and the Senate – to respond, implying that if they do not, their silence would lend validity to the ludicrous “climate change is a hoax” thesis.
Personally, I think even the most uninformed reader deserves more respect than being assaulted by one of the less sophisticated logical errors, the ignorance argument. Challenging bald lies is an unpleasant necessity; To entertain them beyond that would be to give them far more than the credibility they really deserve, which it doesn’t.