Lawrence Solomon, the anti-democratic oaf employed by the National Post to make spurious claims about the falsehoods of climate change, has a new and even more bizarre conspiracy theory about climate change. In the past, I have grown familiar with Solomon and his ilk claiming that climate change isn’t real, that socialists are rigging the debate, and even that would-be carbon traders like Al Gore are trying to scam us into making them billions of dollars. But in his latest column Solomon ascends to new heights of paranoia and ridiculousness:
The insurance industry has been behind the global-warming fraud since the 1970s… The insurance industry wants more money to cover its poor stock picks.
The insurance industry is powerful indeed, if it not only managed to get in on the ground floor of the climate change lobby forty years ago (as Solomon claims) but that, still talking forty years ago here, they realized they would be making “poor stock picks” during the 2007-2008 recession and would need an excuse to jack up their rates to restore profitability. And anyways, since when did insurance companies need an excuse to up our rates?
I’ve been wondering for some time now what would happen when insurance companies decided climate change was a serious enough risk to build into their rate calculations. This has been a turninng point in social movements before — in the provision of running tap water, for instance, which had the helpful side effect of creating a legion of fire hydrants. I guess I was overly optimistic. It turns out they just get slotted into their place in the conspiracy. As with the Conservative paranoia about Liberals, we are witnessing the creation of a profound, grand conspiracy theory which has the dual effects of creating a fount of magic knowledge for misguided followers to rally around, and a ready-made tool for instantly (if spuriously) discrediting any criticism.
I am skeptical that these people can be reasoned with, mostly because most of them did not use reason to come to their current beliefs. But I will try and have some small effect anyways. I am creating the Sixth Estate Climate Change Index. It will track climate change research published in the journals that people like Lawrence Solomon claim are reputable and reliable sources of information when they cherry-pick an occasional study that bucks the consensus. I am doing this because I think it is the best way to clearly disprove the foundational thesis of hacks like Solomon: that scientists themselves don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change.
In the meantime, since Solomon apparently feels that the scholarly publications of the American Meteorological Society are a reputable record of scientific knowledge about climate change, I thought I’d share with you just two recent articles from these journals, which (given his apparent habit of loyally perusing the technical literature) we must assume he will be familiar with soon, if not already, and therefore we can look forward to reading about in his exciting and highly educational columns.
Since Solomon’s big point is that the American Meteorological Society published an article earlier this year arguing that climate change wasn’t causing an increase in natural disasters, here’s another AMS-published article, just from this month, showing how it will, specifically, through an increase in North American hurricane damage. How do we as non-experts decide which of these articles is most important? Well, obviously we pick the one that most closely fits our existing preconceptions. That’s practically science itself. Right?
Oh, and here’s another one, submitted by professors Douglas Hayhoe (education), Shaw Bullock (education), and Katharine Hayhoe (Earth sciences):
We used a 59 item survey to probe the understanding of climate change by 89 Ontario pre-service teachers… Teacher’s knowledge was a “kaleidoscope of understanding,” rather than a coherent picture. This may be because their understanding of climate change came primarily from unconnected sources in the media.
At least 80% of Ontario teachers, it seems, understand that Earth’s climate is cyclical, that natural sea levels change significantly, and that carbon dioxide causes a greenhouse effect. Somewhat disturbingly, however, more than two-thirds of them were unaware that radioactive waste is not a greenhouse gas or that holes in the ozone layer are a separate problem from the greenhouse effect, while somewhat fewer apparently feel that the tropics are warmer because they are closer to the Sun (yikes). They also don’t seem to realize how nearly unanimous climate scientists’ opinion is on this subject, which is sure to warm the hearts of the many journalists and think tankers who have engaged so tirelessly and selflessly in the task of spreading misinformation and denialist propaganda.Tweet