After finally completing my thesis and graduating I thought I’d try something a bit different, something I probably haven’t done in a long while; read a book for fun! However it was during a somewhat starry-eyed cruise through the science section at a local book retailer that I spotted something that instantly ruined the entire endeavour.
“Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies about Climate Change”
By Bob Carter and John Spooner
Inevitably I purchased the book if only to remove it from the shelf, and to see if it had any legitimate arguments. It didn’t take long belong I stumbled across one premise that was quite troubling.
“…it has never been demonstrated that warming above today’s temperature would be harmful [to humans].”
This claim is really a trick of language, sure, we have scant evidence for the effects of warming on humans, and there is little in the way of precedent. However, we have a large body of evidence for some of the other effects from warming, and, it doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination how these will impact humanity.
We know that warming will raise sea level through the melting of land ice and the expansion of water as it warms. Rising sea level presents a threat to the coastal infrastructure of many nations and threatens many of the smaller island nations existentially. Sea level rise could cause the displacement of millions of people from some of the poorest parts of the globe.
I could continue to cover many similar premises, but they all fall into a similar category of being implied criticisms based on ignored or cherry picked information.
The overarching reason that finding this book annoyed me is because the way arguments like this are constructed to distort people’s understanding. This problem becomes apparent when we view the discrepancy between the debates about climate change in the public and scientific sphere. This book would not be as transparent to someone who hasn’t studied climate change for the good part of their undergraduate degree.
So kudos to the people that communicate their science and the scientific communicators for their efforts in eventually drowning out the claims such as those expressed that book.