As soon as something weird in the weather happens these days, there’s always that one person who says “yeah but the same thing happened…” insert date. Well, yeah, it may have happened before but it seems these erratic weather occurrences are happening more and more often. Climate change? Nah
Well earlier this year, Niagara Falls froze over. The world’s most famous waterfall, frozen stiff. Intrepid tourists came from all over the world to get their very own photograph outside this environmental marvel. Photos of the frozen fall saturated the internet quickly followed by an influx of opinions such as, “the fall wasn’t actually frozen, there was still water running beneath it!” and all sorts of other justifications.
Although this particular instance is by no means definitive proof of climate change, those quick to defend planet Earth’s erratic patterns should take a second to think before they speak. Despite the international scientific community’s consensus on climate change, a small number of critics continue to deny that climate change exists or that humans are causing it.
Widely known as climate change “skeptics” or “deniers”, these individuals are generally not climate scientists and do not debate the science with the climate scientists directly—say by publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, or participating in international conferences on climate science. Instead, they focus their attention on the media, the general public and policy-makers with the goal of delaying action on climate change.
Not surprisingly, the deniers have received significant funding from coal and oil companies, including ExxonMobil. They also have well-documented connections with public relations firms that have set up industry-funded lobby groups to, in the words of one leaked memo, “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”
Over the years, these deniers have employed a wide range of arguments against taking action on climate change, some of which contradict each other. For example, they have claimed that:
- Climate change is not occurring
- The global climate is actually getting colder
- The global climate is getting warmer, but not because of human activities
- The global climate is getting warmer, in part because of human activities, but this will create greater benefits than costs
- The global climate is getting warmer, in part because of human activities, but the impacts are not sufficient to require any policy response
And other such antithetical explanations.
So, whilst you might not explicitly align yourself with those hard-line climate change denialists, you may be a product of their marketing. So keep that in mind the next time you’re about to start a wild debate over the internet about whether Niagra falls really froze or not.