Peter Gleick: The Real Climate Hoax

In all of the recent news about climate change, leaked emails, complex negotiations, and watered-down agreements in Copenhagen, one fact has’t received enough attention. The climate “hoax” is real. The only problem is that the real hoax is the effort by climate change deniers who argue that the climate isn’t changing, or that it isn’t because of human actions. It is, and it is. The science is unambiguous. The climate is changing, rapidly, and it is doing so because of our emissions of greenhouse gases.

I know many people have said this. I’ve been saying it for twenty-five years in my research and writings. But if the phrase “climate hoax” is going to enter the public vernacular, it should do so in the right way. So from now on, I intend to use it to refer to the efforts of climate change deniers to misinform the public and our policy makers. Some, like Senator James Inhofe (of Oklahoma), love the phrase “climate hoax.” Fine, but since he is a major elected official perpetrating this hoax (actually, I think he is probably both a hoax-er and a hoax-ee), let the words represent his own actions.

Peter Gleick
Dr. Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert and a MacArthur Fellow.

He and the other deniers are foisting a hoax on the American people by misusing and abusing science and by misrepresenting facts for narrow ideological purposes. If he and the other climate hoaxers don’t think we ought to do anything about climate change because they fear it will hurt the economy, or they just can’t bear for the government to do anything at all, fine, they should make that argument. But instead they pretend the science isn’t firm.

It is. There are plenty of uncertainties about how bad climate change is going to get, and how fast, and how the impacts will be distributed. But not about whether the climate is changing or whether humans are driving those changes.

Water Number: Because my blog is called “Water Numbers,” here is the number for today’s post. 20%. This is the expected decrease in recharge of the vitally important Ogallala Aquifer under the Great Plains of the United States (including important parts of Oklahoma, Senator Inhofe), if temperatures increase by 2.5 degrees C, which they almost certainly will. (“Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” IPCC Working Group II, 4th Assessment, 2007).

But there is more bad news for Oklahoma. As temperature and rainfall patterns begin to rapidly change from climate change, the yields of two of the most important crops in the United States, corn and soybeans, are expected to be severely damaged (including in Oklahoma, Senator Inhofe), according a 2009 scientific paper by Schlenker and Roberts from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study suggests that average yields could decrease by 30 to 46% before the end of the century under the slowest warming scenario and decrease by 63 to 82% under the most rapid warming scenario. And the recent lack of action in Copenhagen pretty much ensures we’re going to see the most rapid warming scenario. The warming the planet is already experiencing already exceeds that worst scenario.

So it is time to call what the climate deniers are doing by its real name: the climate hoax: denying the reality of climate change.

Peter Gleick

Dr. Gleick’s blog posts are provided in cooperation with the SFGate. Previous posts can be found here.

3 replies
  1. John Nicol says:

    Peter Gleick, You and others totaslly misrepresent the position of most “deniers”, “sceptics” – call them what you will. The sceptics have NEVER denied that the climate is changing. We are those who point always to the huge changes in the past geological history when the concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide were much higher than they are today, lagged the temperature by about 800 years in rising and falling, and were at their highest just before the onset of an ice age. You should also remember that the medieval vvarming period when Greenland was settled and where townships were built which still lie under glaziers, was warmer thasn the climate today. Why did Michael Mann and others find it so necessary to remove the data representing thios warm period along with that from the little ice age in order to present his now so infamous Hockey Stick Graph which even the dedicated IPCC has now, three reports later, denounced as fraud? There is much sound scientific evidence showing the reasons for warming and cooling over the millenia and for the recent warming from 1979 to 1998 which has been exagerated by the published data, as evidenced from the CRU emails and was not found in the more accurate satellite data. There are good scientific reasons for the current decade of cooling and the fall in SST, but none of them include the effects of carbon dioxide. My own work as a gas spectroscopist and physicist with 40 years of experience, provides ample evidence that the spectroscopic characteristics of atmospheric CO2 do not include the processes of “radiation” as used universally in the models provided to the IPCC. McLean et al have clearly shown the natural reasons for the recent changes in climate from ocean circulations and corresponding temperature changes. So from Geology (Carter, Plimer), the atmosphere and oceans (McLean et al.) the basic spectroscopic physics (Nicol) the measured characteristics of CO2 (Hug, Barrett) there is not one scrap of evidence that carbon dioxide increases cause warmings. Australia’s CSIR)O Climate Science Group with whom I have had long correspondence and who provide advice to the IPCC and carry out extensive “modelling” can anly say, along with the IPCC ” the increase in global temperatures during the latter part of the twentieth century is very likely due to the increases in concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide”. Very likely indeed. How scientific is that. Please tell me if you can find a more positive statement with references, in any of the IPCC’s four reports.
    John Nicol

  2. opit says:

    I won’t add to John Nichol’s comments about scientific evidences…though a multitude of rebuttals to your statements are available. I will, however, note you postulate a ‘conspiracy theory’ as operating to rebut the ‘conspiracy theory’ proposed by others !
    You’re a fun one. Logical Fallacies have seldom been so stretched beyondf credibility as when one must use Strawman Argumentation to establish Poisoning the Well conditions to prediscredit other views.
    Is this a scientific method which you espouse in some particular variation of ‘peer review’ ?

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply