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The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).
The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.”
"People seem to have accepted the view that they should feel guilty about man's impositions on nature, about progress and technological improvement," says Steve Hayward of the Pacific Research Centre. "Even science today is somewhat suspect in the public mind. I think this is a result of the pervasive environmental philosophy that there's a distinction between man and nature, and that what man does is bad and what nature does is good."
Gregg Easterbrook, author of A Moment on the Earth, a critique of environmental thinking, agrees. He argues that the idealisation of nature common in the environmental movement is a modern luxury that has, paradoxically, been made possible by development. "Most of our ancestors spent their lives struggling to grow food, to protect themselves against disease and the elements," he says. "They found nature did not know best. Nature was a hostile force for them."
Environmentalist thinking is now widely accepted in the West. However, many scientists argue that what the Greens say about global warming and pollution is wrong. Professor Wilfred Beckerman, a former member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, was himself an enthusiastic environmentalist until he started examining the facts. He told Against Nature: "Within a few months of looking at the statistical data, I realised that most of my concerns about the environment were based on false information and scare stories."
Even in recent times, the temperature has not behaved as it should according to global warming theory. Over the last eight years, temperature in the southern hemisphere has actually been falling. Moreover, says Piers Corbyn, "When proper satellite measurements are done of world temperatures, they do not show any increase whatsoever over the last 20 years."
But Greens refuse to accept they have could have been proved wrong. Now they say global warming can involve temperature going both up and down.
Scientists also point out that nature produces far more greenhouse gases than we do. For example, when the Mount Pinatubo volcano erupted, within just a few hours it had thrown into the atmosphere 30 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide— almost twice as much as all the factories, power plants and cars in the United States do in a whole year. Oceans emit 90 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, every year. Decaying plants throw up another 90 billion tonnes, compared to just six billion tonnes a year from humans.
What's more, 100 million years ago, there was six times as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as there is now, yet the temperature then was marginally cooler than it is today. Many scientists have concluded that carbon dioxide doesn't even affect climate.
Although many environmentalists have been forced to accept much of the scientific evidence against global warming, they still argue that it is better to be safe than sorry. So they continue to use global warming as a reason to oppose industrialisation and economic growth.
"Lake Erie 30 years ago was virtually dead," adds Steve Hayward. "Today you can fish in it, you can swim in it. The statistics on the amount of pollution in the food chain have shown dramatic improvement in the last 30 years."