Confusing the public: “Science” should avoid the denial gravy train.

Whilst driving in this morning, I heard about a grey whale being spotted in Mediterranean waters (see here and here) and some are saying that scientists suggest that this is the result of climate change (see here for an example). This troubles me as it does nothing to help assist public awareness of climate change and such statements tend to be nothing more than sensationalism which should be left to the baseless opposition; the denial camp.

Sure, if we see a pattern change over time, then one could conclude that this is the work of climate change. Freak events such as this and rain fall in the Arctic this April are, at this point, single observations and although strange, not conclusive evidence of our changing climate.

This is the confused type of thinking that leaves people like Trump publicly saying absurd things like a snowstorm disproves climate change, or Donna Laframboise’s ridiculous “education” regarding climate science, or Jo Nova’s 1959 Navy sub coming through the ice (an excellent review is found here).

Stooping to such sensational statements undermines the reality of climate change in the public eye and indeed gives such stupidity as that stated above validity through association, much like Monckton’s “expertise” regarding climate science being nothing more than the result of true experts publicly debating with him (ie. “Well the experts discuss it with him, so he must know his stuff…” No he doesn’t. “We’ll they both say these events prove or disprove climate change, so what am I to think?” In both cases: They don’t! Climate change is long term differences, not a single freak event).

By making these statements, we in fact encourage the denial camp to demonstrate the same “evidence” in rebuttal and further confuse the public, which we could argue helps the agents of doubt.

Clear and concise education is required and in response to such stupidities, a simple and clear message that freak events, single or short term observations are NOT indications of climate change in either direction. In doing this we can strengthen public awareness, allowing their cynicism to be based on the best of our understanding of the natural world rather than the result of any given think tank.

This will mean that they could quickly write-off the ignorance illustrated above and wouldn’t stand for religiously inclined political leaders such as Tony Abbot providing their children a baseless education lesson (highlighted here).

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4 thoughts on “Confusing the public: “Science” should avoid the denial gravy train.

  1. I cringed when I heard the news snippet about this on the radio today. Yeah, maybe is *does* have to do with climate change. But trivia about a whale moving isn’t going to throw any light at all on the major issue.

    It’s a bit like the polar bears drowning. Charismatic megafauna (ah, my cynical Ecology teacher, if you taught me anything it’s those two words) seem to make great stories (palm oil/Nestle also being a good example), but are they likely to actually change people’s viewpoint?

    Maybe we’re being too cynical… at least it wasn’t a story about Jesus being warm.

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    1. Exactly… Now if they started birthing somewhere that has been regarded as too cold and did so more and more increasingly over time, we’ll that would tend to suggest that it is the result of climate change, not freak events. Such sensationalism does nothing to help environmental science and opens the doors for denialists to do likewise). BTW, I haven’t found an actually reference of a scientist stating that, “this whale’s appearance is the result of climate change!” It’s all, instead, quite lofty… I tend to think some Journo’s have gone off on their own here without evidence.. It wouldn’t be the first time.
      Cheers,
      Tim

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