FACE TO FACE: Is the jury really out on whether climate change is man-made?
There were times this summer when I thought I didn't need science to tell me global warming is real: sweating in my seat at Theatre Under the Stars, watching the frightening heat waves in the east and avoiding golf because it was too hot.
But luckily, most of us base our conclusions about global warming not on anecdotes about extreme summer weather but on scientific research and consensus.
But not my colleague, who, thanks partly to Exxon Mobil, is one of a group of environmental deniers not swayed by the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change.
Deniers don't believe the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the internationally mandated IPCC, which has, over the last 10 years, compiled four scientific reports based on the work of 2,500 scientists from 130 countries. Each IPCC report warns of the dangers of global warming caused by man-made greenhouse gases.
And deniers don't believe the body of literature in scientific journals, which, over the past decade, contained 928 articles on global warming, none of which included a scientific denial that man is hastening global warming.
Climate change-denying groups are convinced that global warming is a scientific hoax, a scare tactic dreamed up by environmentalists to frighten us into supporting anti-business laws and regulations.
I agree that there is a conspiracy to misrepresent the facts about climate change but 2,500 environmental scientists from 130 countries aren't in on it. Exxon Mobil is.
Since 1998, Exxon has doled out $22,123,456 to climate change-denying groups. The Heritage Foundation ($730,000), Frontiers of Freedom, ($1.2 million) and 40 other groups received money from Exxon to help deny climate change. Even B.C.'s Fraser Institute has bagged $120,000 from Exxon since 1998.
Exxon is using the same tactic the tobacco industry used a few years ago. Remember when Phillip Morris spent millions to encourage groups to deny smoking causes lung cancer? Today, those who deny smoking causes cancer have been silenced by the Supreme Court and an irrefutable body of scientific research.
But the scientific consensus that human activity causes global warming is deeper and more unanimous than the scientific connection between smoking and cancer.
Thus, it's likely that history will judge that denying global warming is more ridiculous than denying that smoking causes cancer.
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.