I had what some practised dieters call a ‘cheat day’ the other evening. I binged, I gorged, I guzzled. After years of trying to restrain myself and not read stories that deny or poke fun at climate change, I browsed a ton of them. It was pretty decadent. I learnt that the ice-caps aren’t melting. I learnt that the climate isn’t actually heating at all. I learnt that a cadre of scientists (sorry, ‘boffins’) were falsifying consensus and pushing governments to invest in ludicrous green schemes that only hurt people like me in the long run. Then I looked outside. A cool, dusky breeze brushed across the pavement. For a moment, everything felt so right. I could join them. Be the junior J. Clarkson.
Given time the high wore off. And as of this morning, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about to convene (Lord, how boring just to type that), I’m feeling a little more like my old self. Back to the grind. Back to expressing support for the scientists working on a problem that neither seems all that present (it’s a lovely Autumnal Monday) nor all that simple. I looked at the leaked briefings for the IPCC report, which comes out on Friday. It will say that the chances of man being the main cause of global warming since the 1950s have upped from 90 per cent to 95 per cent. So nothing new.
Communicating this unchanged picture isn’t easy, as the message is so often hi-jacked by deniers. The report will also address the fact that the rate of warming has slowed since 1998. It will point out that climate scientists have long viewed warming in cycles of 30 years, and that ‘pauses’ like this were expected all along. It may add that, if you look at ocean temperatures, not surface ones, the heating continues unabated. But who wants to report that complex line when, as The Mail on Sunday recently showed, you can run with an entirely bogus (and quickly discredited) article headlined “Now it’s Global COOLING” instead?
Because here’s the thing about climate-change denial: it’s seductive, and makes for thrilling copy, but is absolutely and entirely corrupt. The petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers have funded institutes to oppose scientists and the case for climate change for decades, to the tune of $25m between just 2005 and 2008. And still, against a scientific consensus on the issue of 97 per cent, parts of the media regurgitate their rot.
Take Rupert Murdoch. He tweeted lately asking Al Gore to explain “the record increase” in Arctic Ice - and some of his papers have pursued the same line. The answer’s actually quite simple. There’s more ice than last year’s record low, but the cycle’s in steep decline – and there’s far, far, far less ice than there was twenty years ago, or should be, or will be if we continue to let nonsensical objections and pseudoscience drown out the boring, dangerous truth.