From Al Gore Fan to a Skeptic

How a liberal vegan environmentalist made the switch from climate proponent to climate skeptic

Hint: He did his homework, then took himself to the other side of the debate.

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Guest essay by David Siegel

siegel-pixMy name is David Siegel. I’m not a climate expert; I’m a writer. Early in 2015, I became interested in climate science and decided to spend the better part of this year trying to learn what I could. It didn’t take long before it was clear that there isn’t likely going to be any catastrophic warming this century. What was clear is that skeptics are losing this battle, and I want to tell you why.

For thirty years, James Hansen and Al Gore have been building their PR machine along with David Fenton, the wizard of nonprofit PR. They understand that the messenger is more important than the message. People don’t easily change their minds. People get their opinions from “experts” and brand names like NASA, MIT, Harvard, TIME, The Daily Show, etc. Fenton knows the game is about credibility and repetition, not science. As long as we are trying to convince people with the facts, we will lose.

So I did my homework and wrote a 9,000-word essay aimed at liberals who have a voice, who have access to media, and who might take 30 minutes to educate themselves.

I submitted my piece to every liberal publication, from the LA Times to the Atlantic Monthly to National Geographic to Huffington Post and many more. They all turned it down. Now I’m launching it myself and hope you will read it and help spread the word.

I ask you to help get the word out through social media, links, and the press, to the liberal audience I’m going after. Links really help. If you can help reach Bill Gates, Jeff Skoll, Jon Stewart, George Clooney, and other influential liberals, I hope to help them understand that the science is not settled. I think this is the best way to tip the scales back to reasonable, impactful environmentalism. If you can help move it on Reddit, Voat, Quora, NewsVine, etc., I would appreciate that.

I’m going to ask people to leave comments here, rather than on my page, because I can’t manage the comment spam there. I will, however, read the comments here and will respond if I can.

My work is aimed at your liberal friends; please send them to read it.

Excerpt:

What is your position on the climate-change debate? What would it take to change your mind?

If the answer is It would take a ton of evidence to change my mind, because my understanding is that the science is settled, and we need to get going on this important issue, that’s what I thought, too. This is my story.

More than thirty years ago, I became vegan because I believed it was healthier (it’s not), and I’ve stayed vegan because I believe it’s better for the environment (it is). I haven’t owned a car in ten years. I love animals; I’ll gladly fly halfway around the world to take photos of them in their natural habitats. I’m a Democrat: I think governments play a key role in preserving our environment for the future in the most cost-effective way possible.Over the years, I built a set of assumptions: that Al Gore was right about global warming, that he was the David going up against the industrial Goliath. In 1993, I even wrote a book about it.

Recently, a friend challenged those assumptions. At first, I was annoyed, because I thought the science really was settled. As I started to look at the data and read about climate science, I was surprised, then shocked. As I learned more, I changed my mind. I now think there probably is no climate crisis and that the focus on CO2 takes funding and attention from critical environmental problems. I’ll start by making ten short statements that should challenge your assumptions and then back them up with an essay.

1 Weather is not climate. There are no studies showing a conclusive link between global warming and increased frequency or intensity of storms, droughts, floods, cold or heat waves.

2 Natural variation in weather and climate is tremendous. Most of what people call “global warming” is natural.

3 There is tremendous uncertainty as to how the climate really works. Climate models are not yet skillful; predictions are unresolved.

4 New research shows that fluctuations in energy from the sun correlate very strongly with changes in earth’s temperature, at both long and short time scales.

5 CO2 has very little to do with it. All the decarbonization we can do isn’t going to change the climate much.

6 There is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” Carbon dioxide is coming out of your nose right now; it is not a poisonous gas. CO2 concentrations in previous eras have been many times higher than they are today.

7 Sea level will probably continue to rise, naturally and slowly. Researchers have found no link between CO2 and sea level.

8 The Arctic experiences natural variation as well, with some years warmer earlier than others. Polar bear numbers are up, not down. They have more to do with hunting permits than CO2*.

9 No one has shown any damage to reef or marine systems. Additional man-made CO2 will not likely harm oceans, reef systems, or marine life. Fish are mostly threatened by people who eat them.

10 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others are pursuing a political agenda and a PR campaign, not scientific inquiry. There’s a tremendous amount of trickery going on under the surface*.

Could this possibly be right? Is it heresy, or critical thinking — or both? If I’ve upset or confused you, let me guide you through my journey

You’ll find it at: www.climatecurious.com.

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