That’s not a headline you’ll see. No journalist hounded scientists in the cancer research fields to give a yes or no answer to the question: “Did Mr Smith’s death from lung cancer come from his smoking habit?” to which the correct scientific answer is: “No one smoker’s cancer death is proof that cancer causes smoking.”
As a result, no headlines blare “Mr Smith’s cancer not due to smoking, say scientists!” – and so most people do understand that the science shows the clear risk of cancer from smoking, heart attacks from high-cholesterol diet, diabetes from sweet junk food and so on, because journalists covered the science scientifically.
We know that the more scientific question is: “Is this cancer projected to occur more often in those with smoking habits like Mr. Smith’s?” This is how we understand risk – in other fields.
But with the results of climate change, journalists seem unable to understand, and communicate the equivalent “Are climate events like this projected to occur more often resulting from adding more greenhouse gases from fossil-fuel burning?” And the answer to that is: “Yes.”
Because of this media failure, wacky alternative theories about the cause of climate change are on the increase. Islanders losing crops to the sea say evil spirits did it. A highly influential Russian politico in Moscow suspects the broiling weather is being perpetrated on Russia by HAARP. Even flood victims in Pakistan don’t see the connection to global warming.
Just like Mr Smith’s particular cancer death event, these 17 record-breaking heat records, Pakistan’s massive flooding, the heat and wildfires devastating Russia, the giant iceberg calving off Greenland, the sizzling East Coast – all these are likely consequences of adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, just like Mr Smith’s cancer death is the likely consequences of a lifetime smoking habit.
So, which climate events can be expected more frequently? What scientists have been projecting is, summarized in a series of IPPC reports:
“These projections show that temperatures will rise faster in the coming decades than they have so far; sea level and ocean acidity will rise more quickly; the incidence of certain insect infestations will increase, as will wildfires, droughts, extreme weather events. The extinction of species is likely to accelerate as ecosystems shift or disappear entirely. Mountain glaciers are likely to melt back or disappear, leading to increased pressure on water supplies even as population growth triggers increased demand for water. Shifts in weather patterns will likely cause disruptions in agriculture. The Arctic Ocean is likely to become ice-free for at least part of the summer”.
Each new wildfire, flood, drought, iceberg, glacier melt, record snowfall, monsoon-like rain or record hot temperature should remind you of Mr Smith’s cancer death. No one death will ever be the smoking gun.
We’ll boil away before any corporate journalist admits what’s happening because “No one event is ever proof…”.
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