(City of Belmopan, Belize) Following three days of discussions, CARICOM Climate Negotiators closed their meeting on Wednesday with presentations to Ministers with responsibility for climate change, environment and sustainable development. 8 of 14 CARICOM Ministers attended the July 14 meeting, along with their permanent secretaries, climate change envoys and other senior technical officers.
Preceding the meeting with the government Ministers, negotiators used their initial forum to point out critical issues for CARICOM and strategize over several matters related to the Paris Agreement, inclusive of adaptation, climate financing, common timeframes, transparency, capacity building and the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. They also emphasized the need to enhance ambitions under the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), mainly of the major emitters, if the goal of net zero emission is to be realised by 2030 and the 1.5C over pre-industrial level be attained chihuahua bark collar.
Dr Mark Bynoe, Assistant Executive Director of the 5Cs, with responsibility for overall coordination of the region’s preparation for COP, emphasized, that “what the 5Cs is trying to do is ramp up preparations. The whole idea for this meeting was for CARICOM negotiators to meet to look at the agenda items for COP 26 and to begin planning, strategizing and advising Ministers on what is important for us in the Caribbean going into the Glasgow Meeting in November. We must have a good plan to ultimately derive the success, which would lead us along a continuum to a decarbonized and sustainable future.”
While there have been several planning meetings around COP 26 which involved the Caribbean, this meeting was the first pre-COP meeting organized by CARICOM, specifically for CARICOM negotiators and Government Ministers. At the presentation to the Ministers, negotiators updated them on the state of the negotiations and the process to finalise CARICOM positions on key issues under relevant COP 26 agenda items. They also raised the need to identify champions that will focus on thematic areas for participation in negotiations, and high-level events at COP 26 and prior. In addition, Ministers were apprised on NDCs, including Caribbean targets, collective contributions on ambition and potential assessments of costs.
Describing the meeting as successful, Dr Bynoe noted, “as a follow- up, the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) Secretariat, which is chaired by Antigua and Barbuda, will also be having a CARICOM Meeting at the end of July to ensure that CARICOM decisions feed into AOSIS positions. “This is important, to ensure that our voices are amplified through the AOSIS body, through which CARICOM interests are often channeled at the COP.”
The process of planning, strategizing and building sensitisation among government Ministers is expected to continue because according to Dr Bynoe, “when we get to COP, the decisions that are made, ought to be made based on sound technical advice, and be evidenced-based but they are still political decisions. It is therefore imperative that our policy makers are not only aligned but that they are conversant on the issues.”
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If you’ve ever expressed the least bit of skepticism about environmentalist calls for making the vast majority of fossil fuel use illegal, you’ve probably heard the smug response: “97% of climate scientists agree with climate change” — which always carries the implication: Who are you to challenge them?
The answer is: you are a thinking, independent individual–and you don’t go by polls, let alone second-hand accounts of polls; you go by facts, logic and explanation.
Here are two questions to ask anyone who pulls the 97% trick.
1. What exactly do the climate scientists agree on?
Usually, the person will have a very vague answer like “climate change is real.”
Which raises the question: What is that supposed to mean? That climate changes? That we have some impact? That we have a large impact? That we have a catastrophically large impact? That we have such a catastrophic impact that we shouldn’t use fossil fuels?
What you’ll find is that people don’t want to define what 97% agree on–because there is nothing remotely in the literature saying 97% agree we should ban most fossil fuel use.
It’s likely that 97% of people making the 97% claim have absolutely no idea where that number comes from.
If you look at the literature, the specific meaning of the 97% claim is: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause–that is, that we are over 50% responsible. The warming is a whopping 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, a warming that has tapered off to essentially nothing in the last decade and a half.
Even if 97% of climate scientists agreed with this, and even if they were right, it in no way, shape, or form would imply that we should restrict fossil fuels–which are crucial to the livelihood of billions.
Because the actual 97% claim doesn’t even remotely justify their policies, catastrophists like President Obama and John Kerry take what we could generously call creative liberties in repeating this claim.
On his Twitter account, President Obama tweets: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Not only does Obama sloppily equate “scientists” with “climate scientists,” but more importantly he added “dangerous” to the 97% claim, which is not there in the literature.
This is called the fallacy of equivocation: using the same term (“97 percent”) in two different ways to manipulate people.
John Kerry pulled the same stunt when trying to tell the underdeveloped world that it should use fewer fossil fuels:
And let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the science is absolutely certain. . . 97 percent of climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible. . . . . they agree that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know it will change—and it will change dramatically for the worse.
In Kerry’s mind, 97% of climate scientists said whatever Kerry wants them to have said.
Bottom line: What the 97% of climate scientists allegedly agree on is very mild and in no way justifies restricting the energy that billions need.
But it gets even worse. Because it turns out that 97% didn’t even say that.
Which brings us to the next question:
2. How do we know the 97% agree?
To elaborate, how was that proven?
Almost no one who refers to the 97% has any idea, but the basic way it works is that a researcher reviews a lot of scholarly papers and classifies them by how many agree with a certain position.
Unfortunately, in the case of 97% of climate scientists agreeing that human beings are the main cause of warming, the researchers have engaged in egregious misconduct.
One of the main papers behind the 97 percent claim is authored by John Cook, who runs the popular website SkepticalScience.com, a virtual encyclopedia of arguments trying to defend predictions of catastrophic climate change from all challenges.
Here is Cook’s summary of his paper: “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97 percent [of papers he surveyed] endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.”
This is a fairly clear statement—97 percent of the papers surveyed endorsed the view that man-made greenhouse gases were the main cause—main in common usage meaning more than 50 percent.
But even a quick scan of the paper reveals that this is not the case. Cook is able to demonstrate only that a relative handful endorse “the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.” Cook calls this “explicit endorsement with quantification” (quantification meaning 50 percent or more). The problem is, only a small percentage of the papers fall into this category; Cook does not say what percentage, but when the study was publicly challenged by economist David Friedman, one observer calculated that only 1.6 percent explicitly stated that man-made greenhouse gases caused at least 50 percent of global warming.
Where did most of the 97 percent come from, then? Cook had created a category called “explicit endorsement without quantification”—that is, papers in which the author, by Cook’s admission, did not say whether 1 percent or 50 percent or 100 percent of the warming was caused by man. He had also created a category called “implicit endorsement,” for papers that imply (but don’t say) that there is some man-made global warming and don’t quantify it. In other words, he created two categories that he labeled as endorsing a view that they most certainly didn’t.
The 97 percent claim is a deliberate misrepresentation designed to intimidate the public—and numerous scientists whose papers were classified by Cook protested:
“Cook survey included 10 of my 122 eligible papers. 5/10 were rated incorrectly. 4/5 were rated as endorse rather than neutral.”
—Dr. Richard Tol
“That is not an accurate representation of my paper . . .”
—Dr. Craig Idso
“Nope . . . it is not an accurate representation.”
—Dr. Nir Shaviv
“Cook et al. (2013) is based on a strawman argument . . .”
—Dr. Nicola Scafetta
Think about how many times you hear that 97 percent or some similar figure thrown around. It’s based on crude manipulation propagated by people whose ideological agenda it serves. It is a license to intimidate.
It’s time to revoke that license.
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