Why climate change is really concerning
By Tom Beakbane
At Beakbane: Brand Strategies & Communications we have never shied away from tough communications challenges and right now there is no tougher challenge than countering the widespread belief that we are facing a “climate crisis” because of fossil fuels.
The “climate crisis” is being used as a reason for increasing taxes on energy which will make it harder for our businesses to compete and households to pay their bills. It is also compromising our national unity.
Global warming is a fact. Having skied on glaciers in the Rockies, the Alps and Scandinavia I have seen firsthand evidence how the ice has retreated over the last two hundred years.
Like most others I have seen Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth that shows a direct connection between the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming. I have never had cause to doubt its veracity.
Then last year, as a favour to one of my Western friends, we helped with the communications for two climate change science seminars. In the process I downloaded temperature data from the Meteorological Service of Canada, read a number of recent scientific papers and learned the history of how the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its political advocates went about persuading everyone that there is a scientific consensus about climate change.
The subject happens to fall at the intersection of a number of subjects I find deeply interesting. From about the age of 5 I have been a science nerd (I have a Bsc. Hons. in neurophysiology and biochemistry) and have read numerous books on the history and philosophy of science. I am also fascinated by fundamental questions about how our brains work, how we comprehend, and how we fit in with the people around us. Plus, I am a marketer and have helped organizations craft messages and change the minds of large audiences.
With a few minutes reflection the idea that there is a consensus about something as complicated as the effect of carbon dioxide on the world’s climate is mind-bogglingly preposterous. It would be like saying that medical practitioners largely agree about human health. They do not and never will. So how did so many people, including most journalists and teachers, come to believe and promote the idea?
The details of the science are indeed complex, however there is no credible scientific data pointing to a climate emergency. A detailed reading of the IPCC reports confirms this.
The subject of carbon taxes is significant to me personally because in 1980 when I landed in Toronto from the UK with only $300 in my back pocket the business environment was stimulating allowing me, by the time I was 30 years old, to start a company that I have had the privilege of running to this day. Since that time Canada’s manufacturing sector has been eroding, and carbon taxes are going to be a further drag that will make it harder for future generations to become entrepreneurs and make a living.
This subject is becoming critical for another reason. Many of my business colleagues and friends grew up in countries that did not allow free speech… and worse. Members of their families were murdered by extreme political regimes.
How did this happen in societies that were apparently civilized?
When we see editorials in mainstream publications, like the Winnipeg Free Press, calling for the silencing of “deniers” we are seeing it. We are witnessing it when the CBC endlessly repeats headlines that refer to a climate emergency but never reports on actual scientific findings.
It happens gradually and it is happening here.