Myths usually sound fascinating. Myths are things that never happened, stories that aren’t true, though often we wish they were, for various reasons.
As a young boy, I wanted to know if Big Foot was an actual animal. I saw almost every documentary that claimed to show evidence of Big Foot’s existence. And don’t get me started on flying saucers.
Despite its place in popular Internet theory, most people—including me—consider Big Foot continue a myth. No hiker walks out into the woods looking for Big Foot.
Unfortunately, some myths come camouflaged as truths. They do so for many reasons and aided by the mainstream media’s obsession with gaining more subscriptions and the explosion of fake news in the Internet era. More recently there has been increase in the use of strategic campaigns with false claims to malign the character of political opposites.
Almost all of my Democrat friends wished the findings of Mueller's report would conclude that President Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. But Mueller found that there was no collusion with Russia by President Trump, his family members, or his campaign. One more myth slain.
The pattern for the origin and end of fake claims seems similar: Claims are made without objective empirical proof, then, propelled by mainstream news media and internet sensation, sustained among the masses. They continue until irrefutable data finally contradict them. Only then are they put to rest.
The controversy over climate change follows this pattern. It is now more political than scientific. Since the 1970s, outlandish claims regarding our climate have been made repeatedly, only to be found untrue.
How exactly do we identify true and false claims in the climate sciences? It is simple.
Warnings of dramatic, possibly dangerous elements of climate change—like rapid global warming, sea-level rise, and extreme weather patterns—can be checked against actual observations. The credibility of the claims is then judged by their coherence or mismatch with the observed data.
We particularly need to separate truth from myth in the climate sciences because they determine key policy decisions on our use of fossil fuels, the pace of our economic development, and our scientific understanding of the climate system.
You’ll be shocked by the magnitude of myths promoted in the name of climate change.
In the 70s, scientists claimed the earth was headed into a cooling phase that would usher in an Ice Age. The news was widely circulated in newspapers, and the masses were told to believe in it. It never came to pass.
Instead, global temperature levels rose significantly in the following decades. Upon observing this upward trend, a section of scientists made a U-turn and claimed that our globe was warming. Hence the name “global warming.”
Yes, our world was warming, and it may be continuing to warm. But scientists disagree on the magnitude of warming and the underlying causes.
In addition to interpreting the observed climate patterns, some scientists and political institutions began predicting future climate based on immature results from highly flawed computer climate models.
How do we know these models were flawed?
By comparing observed temperature data with model predictions. The magnitude of warming predicted by the models was nowhere near the observed increase in temperature levels. The models consistently predicted more warming than observed.
During the past 18 years, the earth’s atmosphere showed no significant increase in temperature, contrary to the projections of the climate models, and the minimal warming that did occur was considerably lower than the rate of increase in the preceding decades.
Yet, key political institutions like the United Nations, leaders of many countries, and the academicians funded by vested interests continue to claim that the model projections actually represent our future climate state.
In the early 2000s, this led them to declare that global warming was a real threat to our planet. In the late 2000s, politicians like Al Gore embarked on a climate mission to make the world believe we are doomed.
They said polar bears would be extinct soon and polar regions would be ice free by 2015. As of March 2019, the polar bear populations were healthier than before, and neither polar region has shown alarming reduction in ice mass.
With the expansion of the multi-billion dollar global renewable energy industry, fake claims regarding our climate system have only increased.
Consider the promoter of the Green New Deal (GND), Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Before unveiling the GND, she claimed that humanity has less than “12 years to save the world from climate doomsday.”
Seriously? The GND definitely needed some compelling reasons before it could ask us to forgo all the fossil fuels, embrace highly unreliable renewables, shut down airports, and grow plants without carbon dioxide. The 12-year claim, laughably false as it is, certainly proffers the required alarm.
The GND is really the Black New Deal. When the sun sets and the wind goes still, all American homes will be blacked out without any electricity as the GND proposes a complete shutdown of coal and nuclear energy sources.
For climate scientists like me, it is not new to encounter false climate claims like these. Many know that Cortez is the new Al Gore in the making.
However, the mainstream media are largely dominated by the doomsday perspective. Anyone who disagrees with the popular theory is quickly branded “anti-science” and categorically targeted.
It is high time we separate truth from myth in climate science. If 18 years (2000—2018) have revealed the climate model failure and the bankruptcy of the climate doomsday movement, the next two decades will likely reveal more discrepancies about misinformation being sold as truth.
Until then, the Big Foots of the Climate Empire will be walking with swag in our mainstream media.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.