As the climate change deniers conclude their 4th International Climate Conference, “Reconsidering the Science and Economics” or rather“Science vs. Alarmism,” where they will present “new scientific research,” it is essential that we are cognizant of their tactics to debate and deny the causes and consequences of climate change. One tactic and perhaps the most insidious one is that of cherry-picking the data to suit their own agenda.
What they do, and do quite well, is highlight an anomaly or one small part of the whole that supports their position, while ignoring or omitting, if not censoring, the data that does not. In this way, their arguments appear to be backed by the science, allowing them to proclaim “the mainstream of the scientific community does not believe global warming is a crisis.”
One example of cherry-picking is the argument that neither the Arctic, Greenland or glaciers are melting or retreating. In fact, according to the contrarians, they are actually increasing and advancing. To support their claim, the deniers refer to a 2005 study “Recent Ice Sheet Growth in Greenland” which revealed that between 1992-2003, the average thickness of the Greenland ice sheet was increasing. However, what they fail to mention is that the study only looked at the interior, not the edges, which are melting, and that the increased snowfall and thickening ice sheets is actually indicative of global warming. Moreover, the authors explicitly stated their findings should not be used to conclude that the ice mass as a whole was growing. Hmm…
A second example is the argument that because the climate has changed in the past due to natural causes, and there have been periods with CO2 levels much higher than today, then the current climate change must also be natural and NOT a result of human activities. To demonstrate, they refer to the Medieval Warming Period and the subsequent Little Ice Age, as well as the Jurassic Period (206-144 mya) and the Ordovician Age (500-440 mya) when CO2 levels in the atmosphere were much higher than current levels. So much so that the deniers even claim that compared to former geologic times, we are presently CO2 impoverished!
With these claims, what the deniers omit is that the changes that occurred during the MWP and LIA were regional, not global, and thus do not indicate any global climate trend. Nor do they mention that NOAA has determined that the recent warm years have been Earth’s warmest in the past 1000 years, and that the increase in temperature is in direct accordance with the increase in human induced GHG emissions. In regards to past geologic periods, well, they were long before humans ever existed; dinosaurs roamed the Earth during the Jurassic period and during theOrdovician Age, evolution consisted of marine organisms and invertebrates, and there were only four continents instead of the current seven.
These are just two of a myriad of examples of the contrarian’s cherry-picking. Others include the arguments that increased levels of CO2 will be beneficial, that polar bears and penguins are not endangered, that neither droughts nor hurricanes nor other extreme weather events are a result of anthropogenic climate change, that there is no rise in sea level, etc. Yet, as erroneous and misleading as this cherry-picking of data is, it works. For climate science is indeed complex, and the public has way too much else on its mind, like finding a job, to take the time to completely comprehend it. So, with bits and pieces of supposed scientific facts to back their claims, that “there is no ‘climate crisis’ at all,” the contrarians appear smart, credible and sane, assuring the public that indeed, life is a bowl of cherries.