Climate change: 5 things to know about climate skeptics

Climate change: 5 things to know about climate skeptics

1/ Climate skeptics emerged in the United States in the 1980s

“It’s a story rooted in a kind of strange way not in environmental questions, but in geopolitical questions,” Stephan Fokart, journalist at Le Monde (Planet/Science Department) and co-author of the book explains the Guardians of the Mind: An Investigation of Scientific Misinformation (La Découverte editions). Add :

Climate skepticism was more or less born when the Soviet Union began to collapse. According to science historians Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, in their book suspicious traders, you had a whole community of scientists, often physicists, who saw their careers entirely organized by the confrontation between the two blocs, between the United States and the Soviet Union.

When the USSR began to decline, new scientific disciplines were organized on environmental issues. These physicists began to realize that environmental sciences would help constrain industrial and economic activities.

“So through some kind of pendulum effect, Stefan Vokart says, Those people who were very conservative, wearing scientific titles, switched from anti-communist to anti-environmental, and the struggle against the scientific consensus that was beginning to emerge at that time on the climate issue will be one of the essential elements of this crusade that established the birth of Climate skepticism. “

2/ Climate skeptics have trampled on knowledge established since the 1970s

In the 1970s, many scientific reference texts indicated that in the community of professionals in atmospheric chemistry, fluid mechanics, or air mass transfers, everyone was convinced, ‘Really unequivocally’Climate change – even if it’s not yet detectable – has to happen, says Stefan Foukart.

Among these reference texts, we can cite the Charney Report, named after the great atmospheric physicist at MIT, commissioned in 1979 by Jimmy Carter. “Jule Charney calls a group of scientists and delivers a report that says so clearly that climate change must happen, at least there is no reason to believe it won’t.”

This report goes further by demonstrating that once we are able to measure the onset of global warming, it will be too late to avoid its main effects. So the lesson from all this, Stefan Vokart concludes, It was at the end of the seventies, we knew everything we had to know for business.”

3/ Climate skeptics use smoking techniques similar to those used by tobacco lobbies

Doubt its results, confront it with others… Skepticism is the basis of any scientific approach. It’s his strength and his Achilles heel. The cultural skepticism of science will turn against it, “And that means we’re going to push him to the point where he no longer has anything scientific about him that will keep some kind of skepticism in the broader community, and therefore in circles of people who are working on questions not directly related to climate,” Stephan Vokart explains. Which explains why, for many decades, biologists, geologists, physicists or mathematicians have said publicly that we are not sure about climate change and that more work is needed.

Among the “traders of doubt” are large multinational corporations, such as Total and Elf, which we discovered recently, in the fall of 2021, that have been aware of the impact since 1971. ‘Potentially disastrous’ of their climate products, but they are still working to hide the reality of climate change.

“Sabotage takes a lot of money, time, and skill,” Stephan Vokart explains. In the United States, it has been proven that leading petrochemical companies and charities associated with large corporations have invested a lot of money (about 1 billion dollars a year) in a group of organisations, think tanks, think tanks, trade unions, etc., to put them at the service of promotion and promotion, in particular, to question the climate.

4 / In France, climate skepticism is an imported product Made in USA

In France, climate skepticism did not arrive in the 1980s as in the United States, but in the mid-2000s. Around the year 2005, Recalls Stefan Vokart, We see the first blogs appear that translate all the climate-skeptical gloss that’s been circulating for years in the United States.” It is from this material that geologist Claude Alliger, former education minister, will compose his devastating speech on climate science. “Speech is like science…but that’s not science at all. With a touch of conspiracy.”

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is being manipulated by governments”, “We are not sure the Sun is not the source of global warming” Proved false by the competent scientific community, Claude Alliger’s lies will flourish around 2010 in the media and higher pollution Authorities such as the Academy of Sciences, which have made adjustments since then.

5/ Climate skeptics have adapted for decades

Extremely fickle, with changing geometry, climate skeptical discourse has adapted over time. Initially, when climate change was not yet detectable, climate skeptics simply repeated that climate does not change.

When it turned out that the temperature was rising, the argument that “climate is always changing” arose. This is true, except that it is changing like never before. “At no time in the planet’s history have we released into the atmosphere, in a few decades, all the carbon stored in the Earth’s interior over hundreds of millions of years, Stefan Vokart recalls. So, yes, the climate has always changed, but it has always changed on time scales that have absolutely nothing to do with what we do.”

Obviously, the temperatures are not dropping. Then climate skeptics began to question the human origin of climate change. But advances in attribution methods show it: Human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land. that it “Between Glee” According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The final stage of the climate skeptic’s rocket: Say everything will be fine and we’ll adjust. “C’est dire qu’on va modifier tellement radicalement la technique – en utilisant des réacteurs nucléaires de quatrième génération, en faisant peut-être de la géo-ingénierie, en manipulant le climat… – qu’on va’ finir par s” Out”, Summed up by Stefan Fokart, for whom skepticism about climate is no longer today a skepticism of climate. “old or old”, but one “Technological development, a way of looking at things as problems that technology will solve anyway.” At the moment, these technologies have not been developed. Meanwhile, we continue to emit greenhouse gases. But it’s hard to fight the circulation of this lie, even less when social networks are flooded.

“Ice peaks are cooked”, GEO podcast with Météo-France on climate change

“Ice peaks are cooked” is GEO magazine’s podcast with Météo-France to understand all about climate change. In six fun, not sad, episodes, we’ll try to unravel how and why it’s getting out of hand at this point. Mountaineers, scientists… We handed our microphone over to those with a knack for making it more clear.

In this fourth episode, we take you to climate-skeptic lands. As the IPCC reports may track one another, lies and other fake news continue to spread, the fault of the systematic undermining that began decades ago. decoding.

With: David Salas y Melia, climate scientist at the National Center for Meteorological Research (CNRM, Météo-France – CNRS), Stefan Fokart, journalist in the Planet/Sciences division of Le Monde and Valérie Masson-Delmotte, senior researcher at the Laboratory des sciences du Climate and Environment from the French Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA). And kind sharing from Marius Francois, web journalist at NEON and R2D2.

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