It’s climate change deniers who have been brainwashed

Date: Tuesday 28th May 2019

AT risk of prolonging a fruitless ding-dong, I have to respond to Roger Thompson’s missive (Herald, 18th May) and specifically his reference to “brainwashed children”.

There are many aspects of Mr Thompson’s letter that should be challenged but, frankly, debating this type of denialism is usually futile.

But sadly, Mr Thompson’s line of argument does resonate with and provide fuel to those, who like him, are determined to subvert the consensus of scientific opinion.

So, I wish to make just one point. Mr Thompson may deny that the rise in global temperature is influenced by carbon dioxide and other human greenhouse gas emissions, or indeed that there is a climate crisis at all.

However, readers should be aware that the fossil fuel industry itself has known for many decades the implications of increasing human-induced CO2 levels.

A chart from a 1982 Exxon Mobil internal report has recently been disclosed, showing that its scientists accurately predicted that by 2020, CO2 in the atmosphere would reach roughly 400 to 420ppm. This month’s measurement of 415ppm is right within the expected curve Exxon projected under its “21st Century study-high growth scenario”. Pre-industrial levels were about 280ppm.

Not only did Exxon predict the rise in emissions, it also understood how severe the consequences would be, warning of “considerable adverse impact” of rising carbon dioxide levels, including flooding and the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Exxon knew all this, but instead of acting to reverse the trend, it went on to pour tens of millions of dollars into a massive disinformation campaign that we still see today being spouted by President Trump and other climate change deniers.

It is not our children who have been brainwashed — it is more likely to have been Mr Thompson and other climate change deniers who have succumbed.

I write in a week when two scientific studies have been reported, one showing that the floods we suffered in Cumbria in 2009 and 2015 were the worst for more than 550 years, and the other that projected sea level rises by 2100 could be double the previous prediction of about one metre, which would lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people.

With stakes this high, I don’t think we can afford to gamble over any small amount of doubt.


Matterdale End.