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David Suzuki

David Suzuki's picture
Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. He is Companion to the Order of Canada and a recipient of UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for science, the United Nations Environment Program medal, the 2009 Right Livelihood Award, and Global 500. Dr. Suzuki is Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and holds 26 honorary degrees from universities around the world. He is familiar to television audiences as host of the long-running CBC television program The Nature of Things, and to radio audiences as the original host of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks, as well as the acclaimed series It's a Matter of Survival and From Naked Ape to Superspecies. His written work includes more than 52 books, 19 of them for children. Dr. Suzuki lives with his wife, Dr. Tara Cullis, and family in Vancouver, B.C.

Climate change deniers are almost extinct

| August 22, 2012

Most North Americans know that human-caused global warming is real, even if political leaders don’t always reflect or act on that knowledge. According to a recent poll, only two per cent of Canadians reject the overwhelming scientific evidence that Earth is warming at alarming rates – a figure that may seem surprising given the volume of nonsense deniers (many of them funded by the fossil fuel industry) spread through letters to the editor, blogs, radio call-ins, and website comments.

Polling indicates more deniers live in the U.S., but they still make up just 15 per cent of that population.

It’s getting harder to ignore the evidence: record high worldwide temperatures; increasing extreme weather events; devastating droughts, floods, and wildfires; animal and plant species turning up where they’ve never been found before; record ice loss in the Arctic and Greenland; melting glaciers… The trends are exactly as climate scientists predicted.

Meanwhile, one of the few “skeptic” climate scientists, Richard Muller, recently reversed his thinking. Muller and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, studied climate data dating back to 1753, then looked at possible causes of the unusual warming observed since the mid-1950s. (Ironically, the study was funded in part by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, founded by climate change skeptics with heavy interests in the fossil fuel industry.)

Their conclusion? It’s not the sun. It’s not volcanoes. The most likely cause is humans spewing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, mainly by burning fossil fuels. This isn’t news to most climate scientists.

As evidence builds, deniers are starting to change their tune. They once said global warming isn’t happening, and some claimed the world is actually cooling. Now, heat records are being broken worldwide – this past decade was the hottest on record. Many scientists say the situation is even more severe than first thought, with temperatures and impacts increasing faster than predicted.

Faced with the evidence, many deniers have started to admit that global warming is real, but argue that humans have little or nothing to do with it. Muller’s study was just one of many to demolish that theory.

Our climate has always changed, and natural variation is part of that. But scientists have long known that carbon dioxide and other gases trap heat in the atmosphere. Recent warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate that corresponds to burning fossil fuels. According to NASA, global average temperatures have been rising significantly since the 1970s, “with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” North America just experienced the hottest July on record, and the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest, on average, in more than 100 years.

This evidence has caused some deniers to change their tune again. Yes, the Earth is warming, they say, but whether it’s from natural or human causes, we can’t do anything about it, so we might as well continue with business as usual, maybe employing technological fixes to help us adapt.

There’s also a subset of deniers who see some nefarious conspiracy in climate science and “Agenda 21” (a nonbinding, voluntary UN agreement on sustainable development) to impose a world government or something, but their irrational arguments aren’t worth the time of day.

The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels. We also know solutions lie in energy conservation, shifting to renewable sources, and changing our patterns of energy and fuel use, for example, by improving public transit and moving away from personal vehicles.

Scientists have been warning about global warming for decades. It’s too late to stop it now, but we can lessen its severity and impacts. The side benefits are numerous: less pollution and environmental destruction, better human health, stronger and more diversified economies, and a likely reduction in global conflicts fuelled by the rapacious drive to exploit finite resources.

We can all work to reduce our individual impacts. But we must also convince our political and business leaders that it’s time to put people – especially our children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come – before profits.

 

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

For more insights from David Suzuki, please read Everything Under the Sun (Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation), by David Suzuki and Ian Hanington, now available in bookstores and online.

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Comments

Thank you, saltysidney, for proving my point that moronic climate change denial is still rampant.

David Suzuki is wrong. Despite the degrees, accolades, books, and endless interviews and tireless advocacy for the planet, he is simply wrong. Climate change deniers are not the ones who are obfuscating data and hiding under the cover of the Rockefellers funding. I'm not here to destroy the reputation of anyone or to cause virulent hate to be spewed back to me, but the environmental movement is a battering ram for zero growth, population reduction measures, plain and simple. The environmental movements very bible, Silent Spring, a book by Rachel Carson that banned DDT, killed MILLIONS because, again, the data and safety of DDT was falsified, sending millions in the developing world to their death. Quietly now, they are using it again. The environmental movements roots are funded by Malthusians, eugenisists, and depopulation advocates who see science, technology, and development as a threat to their domination. David Suzuki is one of their shining knights, and useful tools. 

Read the following exerpt from http://www.quebecoislibre.org/001014-11.htm

On September 21st, canoe.ca sponsored him in an Internet Chat Session on this subject. From the transcript, I've extracted all the exchanges he made with his debunkers, people who disagree with his precepts. The rest were supporters or people who were simply looking for information. 
 
          We'll start with a simple request for information before we go on to people who actually confront his lies. 

Richard Weatherill: Is it fairly conclusive that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, or can it be attributed equally as well to some cyclic phenomena, of which we are only dimly aware, if at all? Thank you. 

David Suzuki: It's possible of course that there are things we don't even know about but the overwhelming consensus of climatologists is that we are a major cause of a warming that is not a natural cycle.

          This claim is simply a lie. The overwhelming consensus of climatologists is that, if warming exists at all, its causes are natural. In all polls of climatologists conducted so far, those who expressed an opinion were far more likely to disagree with the Greenhouse theory than to accept it. For example, a 1997 Gallup poll indicated that 83 per cent of North American climatologists disagree with it. 

Alan Caruba: Is it not true that the earth's overall temperature has not increased in at least the past fifty years? That no satellite or radiosonde balloon data has found a rise in temperature since around 1950 or so? 

David Suzuki: The data that have been gathered, including recalibrated satellite info, support a 1º rise in the last century.

          Notice that he did not answer the question. Everyone agrees that temperatures have risen over the last century. In fact, they have risen steadily over a three hundred year period starting about 1650. As I noted, the modern peak in 1940 and temperatures have been stable since 1950. Yes, temperatures rose in the first half of the twentieth century. The question was about the second half. 

 
  
     « As the years go by, there is a stronger and stronger consensus among climatologists that global warming does not exist. There is virtual unanimity that if warming is taking place, the causes are natural. » 
 

  
          Three completely different temperature measurement techniques, two in balloons and one in satellites, have shown essentially no change in global temperature since balloons were first used in 1958 and satellites in 1979. Instead they show a random walk (influenced by El Niño) and they agree with each other on where the walk took us. They also agree locally with surface measurements made in the stations with the best records (North America, for example). Other surface measurements, notably in Siberia, indicate a rise in temperature over this period. Four reliable sources, which agree with each other, must surely trump an unreliable source out in left field. 
 
          Besides, how could satellite measurements detect any change previous to 1979? Does Suzuki have some data from UFOs that he is hiding from the rest of us? 
 
          This recalibrated satellite data that Suzuki refers to delights the eco-nuts to no end. Because of the recalibration (made to account for the fact that a satellite's orbit deteriorates over time), the data now show that global warming has occurred, unlike the original data which embarrassingly showed a cooling effect. But in fact, all that has really changed is the sign of the tiny fractional change since 1979. The data now show a change of +0.04º per decade instead of -0.04º. There have been some further re-recalibrations which may yet flip the sign again, but the bottom line is that zero is zero is zero. 

Warren: How do you respond to arguments that the general circulation models used to predict how increases in greenhouse gases will affect climate are so unreliable that we ought not to use them as a basis for large changes in our way of life?

          This question was asked three times and Suzuki never offered any response. He couldn't even find a way to lie about it. Admittedly, his task is difficult. The models all say that temperatures in the lower troposphere should increase faster than ground readings, but the opposite is true. They completely disagree with each other on what the future will hold, not to mention that they can't « retrodict » the past either. They all show bizarre effects from future warming such as closely juxtaposed hot and cold regions. This is not really surprising because they are full of fudge factors, some of which have a bigger effect than the actual data. This is junk science at its worst. 

Alan Caruba: You say that climatologists agree that human activity is responsible for the earth heating up, but 18,000 have signed a statement disputing this. There have been other proclamations disputing global warming. There is no consensus. Do you disagree with this? 
 
David Suzuki: The poll/petition you are referring to was a semi-fictional effort by some sceptics in which they misrepresented themselves as the National Academy of sciences. In fact the national academy took the unprecedented step of issuing a press release condemning the tactic. Some of the signatories to the poll included fictitious characters.

          The petitioners have never represented themselves as the National Academy of Sciences. Furthermore, the NAS press release in question did not accuse them of doing so. As Frederick Seitz, one of the people behind the petition was a former Academy president, the press release simply stated that « The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences » and that they did not agree with its position. Caruba was right. There is no consensus.  
 
          Actually Caruba is not quite right either. As the years go by, there is a stronger and stronger consensus among climatologists that global warming does not exist. There is virtual unanimity that if warming is taking place, the causes are natural. 
 
          For example, Seitz himself signed the IPCC protocol of 1995, which the eco-nuts use to prove their case. He has since changed his mind. Or maybe he didn't. The protocol was fraudulently altered after he signed it. Among other things, the following two paragraphs were removed: 

1) « none of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases. »  
2) « no study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to ... man-made causes. »

We next find out that the « fictional character » accusation is a lie too. 

Bob Ferguson: Your response to Mr. Caruba is inaccurate. That is a false claim circulated by Ozone Action, a radical environmental group. Which signers were fictional?  

David Suzuki: For more information on the poll you should check out the National Academies of Science web site. I believe you can find a definite statement on the poll in the archives of their press releases.

          Once again, Suzuki did not answer the point – that he was repeating the lies of a radical environmentalist group. Instead he repeated his references to a NAS press release which did not say what he claimed it said. Suzuki must have known the contents of the press release when he propagated his lie. He also appears to know that Ozone Action fabricated the accusation that there were fictional signers. Certainly he did not refute the questioner. Yet he repeated Ozone Action's libel anyway. As for why he insists on misrepresenting a petition as a poll, this is simply bizarre. 

Dick Kahle: Half of the warming of this century, about 0.4 C, occurred prior to 1940 before most of the big increase in CO2. The 0.4 C warming left, which might be caused partially by man, is much less than the 0.8 C that the latest models predict, which include aerosols. Why the difference?  

David Suzuki: Historically greenhouse gas emissions have been on the increase since the Industrial Revolution. I believe that the 0.8 includes the earlier 0.4. More importantly future warming is likely to be based on the emissions which are taking place now and those from the past two decades, when emissions soared.

          The eco-nuts do, in fact, claim a warming of 0.8º C over the last century (notice that Suzuki earlier rounded it up conveniently to 1ºC). But he ignores the writer's point – that half of this claimed warming took place in the first half of the century when CO2 emissions were a fraction of what they are today. In fact, Man has been adding to CO2 levels in the air since the invention of fire. Almost all of this increase has taken place in the last fifty years, yet the global temperature today is somewhat below the average of the last 10,000 years. 
 
          Aside from this, where exactly does he get his idea that « future warming is likely to be based on the emissions which are taking place now »? Nobody has ever made such a claim, including the junk scientists themselves. Their models all assume that current warming is caused by current emissions. 

          There's a good reason for this. If I build a greenhouse today, the area underneath its roof won't experience a temperature rise 50 years from now. It happens when I construct the roof. His explanation here doesn't even qualify as junk science. It's ad-hoc argumentation pure and simple. It's designed to shut up his opponent, not advance science or the human condition. It's shameful. 
 
          After this exchange, the transcript ends but Suzuki's hypocrisy on this issue certainly doesn't.  

Suzuki is far too complacent about the degree of acceptance of anthropogenic climate change. The climate deniers in Canada and the U.S. are everywhere, and they are loud, obnoxious, and well funded.

Last fall the U.S. Discovery Channel refused to broadcast the final episode of David Attenborough's Frozen Planet series, which dealt with climate change in the Arctic. It was deemed too controversial for U.S. audiences [but mostly for the network's corporate sponsors].

The fossil carbon industries and their useful idiots (see below) are engaged in a well-financed campaign to mislead the public and block action on climate change.

Those interested in this topic may also be interested in my recent related column for Rabble, Loaded dice in the climate change casino.

How a Climate Blame Doomer thinks:

To a climate blame believer, “could be” is good enough.

To a climate blamer, PURE honesty is what science is all about.

To a climate blamer, we can make the weather nicer.

To a climate blamer, Nature is weak and fragile and dying.

To a climate blamer, anyone with a different view is an evil planet hating neocon.

To a climate blamer, condemning the voter’s children to a CO2 hell will get them elected.

To a climate blamer, a little tiny catastrophic climate crisis is possible.

To a climate blamer, we can make the weather like the inside of an indoor shopping mall.

To a climate blamer, we should hand over the management of the temperature of the planet to bank funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by trustworthy politicians.

To a climate blamer, all pollution from evil humans stays in the air for ever and ever and ever and…

To a climate blamer, tropical fossils under the polar caps do not prove this climate of today has never happened before.

To a climate blamer, condemning billions of children to the greenhouse gas ovens is tuff love.

To a climate blamer, it’s not what is being said, it’s who is saying it.

Ah Dave, Dave, Dave. Your are so out of touch. So sad!

-Canada killed Kyoto with a newly elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death). The Canadian voters have spoken. Respect that!

-Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations.

-Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.

-Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses.

Exaggeration wasn't a scientific crime, its called research. Would you deny what you are being paid to study the effects of? Note: Almost all CO2 research was into effects, not causes. Do the math folks.

 

THE END IS NEAR, “potentially”!

There isn't one single IPPC report warning us of crisis that isn't qualified with a "maybe". Not one!

 Help, my house is on fire maybe?

 

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