I had another post scheduled for today, but this one is far more timely.
My post last week highlighted an example of a meme (‘learning styles’) that’s been around since the 1970s. Despite it being strongly contested and having little evidence to back it up, it clearly strikes a chord that many find hard to resist.
Yesterday, the UK Met Office issued its first ever ‘amber extreme heat warning‘ for the UK. I’ve not been able to determine when they began issuing these warnings, but even so, this should suffice to underscore the reality of climate change.
However, one clear effect this alert has had is to bring out the climate science deniers, spouting their dismissive and misleading memes such as, “I remember the UK heatwave in 1976”. (I saw a half dozen of those in just one comment thread I read this morning.)
That was then, this is now (take 1)
Yes, I remember the UK heatwave of 1976, too. It was exceptional, it’s true. But it’s not at all relevant, and the very fact that it’s raised in knee-jerk response to (yet another) heatwave warning says to me that those bringing it up believe that it’s somehow evidence that human-caused climate change isn’t happening, which is utter nonsense, as demonstrated by the following thirty second video clip:
Just in case you don’t have time to watch that right now, I’ve grabbed two screenshots from it: one from 1976, and the other from 2020.
That was then, this is now (take 2)
“Ah,” says the typical climate science denier, “but, the climate is always changing”. This is true. But it’s also a truism — and extremely misleading; it’s about as relevant as stating that the Sun will rise tomorrow. The point that it misses is that at no time in the geological record have global temperatures risen as fast as they are doing right now.
Here’s another short clip. This one’s just under three minutes long, and I urge you to watch it to the end — when it takes us back, through several ice ages, to the time when our species first appeared on Earth.
That was then, this is now (take 3)
“But carbon dioxide is just a trace gas!” splurts the average clueless denier, seemingly oblivious of the reality that even a ‘trace’ amount of any one of several poisons in their body would render them stone dead. Just as dead, in fact, as if there were no carbon dioxide at all in our atmosphere (because Earth would be a snowball planet).
Svante Arrhenius, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903, was the first to use basic principles of physical chemistry to estimate the extent to which increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) increase Earth’s surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. He did this in 1896. We’ve been twiddling our thumbs, and ‘debating’ the idea (even those who aren’t chemists, physicists, or climate scientists), for one and a quarter centuries. If we’ve learned one thing in all that time, it’s that you can lead someone to knowledge, but you can’t help them think.