Credibility of climate change advocates harmed by their exaggerations
Decades of climate-change exaggeration in the West have produced frightened children, febrile headlines, and unrealistic political promises. The world needs a cooler approach that addresses climate change smartly without scaring us needlessly and that pays heed to the many other challenges facing the planet.One of Al Gore's failed projections was that the poles would be "ice free" by NOW. That is not even remotely true. The failure of all of these dire predictions is important because it is evidence that the underlying assumptions of the climate change crowd are invalid. For those who work with projections, it is obvious that when they are not met it is because underlying assumptions were invalid. The so-called climate scientists seem unable to identify which of their assumptions were invalid.
On March 15, across the rich world, school students walked out of classrooms and took to the streets to call for action against climate change. The “Youth Climate Strike” was inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who blasts the media and political leaders for ignoring global warming and wants us to “panic.”
Although the students’ passion is admirable, their focus is misguided. This is largely the fault of adults, who must take responsibility for frightening children unnecessarily about climate change. It is little wonder that kids are scared when grown-ups paint such a horrific picture of global warming.
For starters, leading politicians and much of the media have prioritized climate change over other issues facing the planet. Last September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described climate change as a “direct existential threat” that may become a “runaway” problem. Last February, The New York Times ran a front-page commentary on the issue with the headline “Time to Panic.” And some prominent politicians, as well as many activists, have taken the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to suggest the world will come to an end in just 12 years.
This normalization of extreme language reflects decades of climate-change alarmism. The most famous clip from Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth showed how a 20-foot rise in sea level would flood Florida, New York, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Shanghai – omitting the fact that this was seven times worse than the worst-case scenario.
A separate report that year described how such alarmism “might even become secretly thrilling – effectively a form of ‘climate porn.’” And in 2007, The Washington Post reported that “for many children and young adults, global warming is the atomic bomb of today.”
When the language stops being scary, it gets ramped up again. British environmental campaigner George Monbiot, for example, has suggested that the term “climate change” is no longer adequate and should be replaced by “catastrophic climate breakdown.”