It is false that “the climate crisis does not exist” as stated in a statement signed by supposed scientists – Checked

September 16, 2022 15:51 p.m. | Reading time: 4 minutes
September 16, 2022 15:51 p.m.
| Reading time: 4 minutes

If you only have a few seconds, read these lines:

  • A letter signed by “1,100 scientists” is circulating on social networks in which the existence of the climate crisis is denied and the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human beings is questioned.
  • However, the letter uses false arguments to question the climate crisis, which exists and generates increasingly visible consequences throughout the world.
  • A previous version of the declaration had already been presented in 2020. Many of its signatories, both then and now, are not scientists and have ties to climate change denial movements.

circulate in Facebook, Twitter and Telegram different posts that refer to a “World Climate Declaration” signed by “1100 scientists” that denies the existence of the climate crisis and questions the scientific consensus that human beings are responsible for global warming.

However, the current climate crisis does exist and, as we have in this notegenerates extreme weather and climate events in all regions of the world. The letter uses false arguments and not all the signatories are scientists: most have ties to fossil fuel companies or climate change denial movements.

“Climate science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific. Scientists should openly address the uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming. in the declaration, titled “there is no climate crisis” that was shared more than 50 thousand times through the different posts.

Signers without credentials

The statement is an updated version of a text published in 2020 by the Netherlands organization Climate Intelligence (Clintel), founded by Guus Berkhout, a retired geophysicist, and journalist Marcel Crok. Clintel describes itself as “an independent foundation that seeks to generate knowledge about climate change.”

In an analysis of the 2020 declaration, the specialized climate verification site climate feedback called it “biased” because many of the signatories were employees of fossil fuel companies or belonged to movements denying climate change. The place also published an analysis of the more recent text and came to a similar conclusion.

“It is instructive to examine signer credentials,” the Climate Feedback authors wrote, noting that several of the signatories they have ties to US think-tanks or lobby groups funded by fossil fuel companies.

The first signer of the declaration is Ivar Giaeverwinner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 for his work on superconductors. Google Scholar shows that he has not published any papers on climate science throughout his career. According to a count of signatures, only about 10 people out of 1,200 signatories identify themselves as climate scientists.

The declaration includes signatures of geophysicists, geologists, engineers, mathematicians, doctors and agronomists. But that is not all. In addition, firms of fishermen, musicians, airline pilots, lawyers, linguists, urologists, psychologists and delegates of workers’ unions in the energy sector, among other professionals, appear.

“It is difficult to understand that something like this appears with what reality is showing us. The climate crisis is not something of the future but something that we are already going through”explained to checked Leandro Díaz, climatologist at the Center for Research on the Sea and the Atmosphere (CIMA). And he added: “If you made a letter that said otherwise you would have hundreds of thousands of signatures.”

The false arguments of the statement

The statement wrongly implies that aspects of climate science are still under debate. It includes a series of statements that have been proven false repeatedly by climate specialists and does not give sources to support them. checked has analyzed these statements on several occasions.

It is stated in the statement that, rather than greenhouse gas emissions, global warming may be a natural occurrence. While it is true that natural variations can influence the climate, this does not explain contemporary warming, caused by emissions generated by human activity.

For Díaz, the increase in global temperature in the last 150 years has been abnormally strong, driven by carbon emissions after industrialization. The global average temperature has already increased 1.1 degrees Celsius since then and is expected to continue to rise if the level of emissions is not significantly reduced in the coming years.

The statement also questions the relationship between climate change and extreme events such as droughts, stating that “there is no statistical evidence.” This contradicts the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)which argues that “climate change is already affecting many extreme weather events in all regions of the world.”

It is also stated in the disinformation text that global warming is happening slower than predicted by the IPCC. This is false, as the projections have in fact been quite close to the climate change seen today, as seen in one of the charts of the IPCC report, where the projected rise in temperature is compared with that which actually occurred.

Finally, the statement maintains that carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, is “beneficial to nature.” That argument was explored in a recent article of Climate Feedback. While it is true that plants need CO2 for photosynthesis, this does not mean that the warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is harmless.

climate misinformation

False narratives like those reflected in the statement are particularly prevalent and powerful when it comes to climate change. Coordinated disinformation campaigns have repeatedly spread messages questioning the existence of human-caused climate change and encouraging inaction.

Research they have observed an expansion of climate skepticism or denialism, its financing and the discursive impacts of its narratives on the public. It seeks to generate doubts and obscure the truth, so that the actions that could be undertaken to reduce emissions are blocked.

By denying the evidence, action is delayed, which has especially severe damage on future generations. some authors they have even referred to the climate change “denial industry,” and its concerted efforts to spread disinformation through the media and social media.

checked together with Unesco has recently worked in a guide to cover climate change news without promoting disinformation. It addresses examples and useful tools to address the climate crisis with a cross-cutting approach and without falling into the risks of misinformation.

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It is false that “the climate crisis does not exist” as stated in a statement signed by supposed scientists – Checked