As the climate wars heat up, the language is going to heat up too, and we must all be on guard against twisting the words of our opponents into false accusations.
After I wrote a commentary here on June 3, 2012 about global warming and climate change and what all this might mean for the future existence of Israel as a state in the arid Middle East, an Israeli scientist that I contacted told me that he thought I was barking up the wrong tree and was wrong about global warming. This led to what, for me, was a fascinating e-dialogue.
I met Professor Emeritus Giora Shaviv, the Swartzmann-Medvedi chair in Space Sciences at The Technion in Haifa after coming across a 2009 news article in the Jewish Chronicle in London headlined “Israeli scientist denies global warming.”
Although Dr Shaviv and I don’t see eye to eye on this, I wanted to find out more about his ideas and climate views, after reading this opening lines of the London story: “A leading Israeli scientist has renounced the concept of man-made global warming at a lecture given to the British Technion Society, just days before world leaders meet to discuss ways to halt it. Professor Giora Shaviv professor of physics at the Technion, claimed that the accepted level of carbon dioxide in the air is wildly exaggerated.”
”Dr Shaviv said that though for years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has claimed that an increase in carbon dioxide has led to an increase in temperature, in fact, the reverse is correct. He argued that the movement of the sun affects temperature, which influences the levels of carbon dioxide, and that these levels have risen and fallen for centuries, even before mankind.”
Then came the clinker: “CO2 is not responsible for heating the earth, the cause is the activity of the sun which we cannot control,” Dr Shaviv said.
And one British defender of Dr Shaviv’s views was quoted as saying:”There is a hysteria and exaggeration of the issue with people worrying that the end is nigh. People need to calm down. The reality is we haven’t got a clear idea what the climate is doing.”
So, having read all this, I emailed Dr Shaviv in Israel and in Internet time, received a reply from him and we later exchanged a few more cordial and friendly messages back and forth. He knows that I feel that global warming maybe very well spell the end of the human species in the next 500 years, if we do not halt CO2 emissions worldwide. And I know that he disgress with me.
”Dear Danny,” Professor Shaviv wrote to me, when I asked him about global warming, “I did not deny the possibility of global warming in that 2009 article you read online. I argue that
a) If at all, it is not man made, b) It is due to solar activity, c) The effect is much smaller than claimed, and d) It is periodic and warming and cooling happened in the past before the industrial revolution and when there were no humans around.”
When I asked Dr Shaviv what his opinion of climate activist Al Gore, he told me: “Al Gore is an idiot who does not know what he is talking about. He shows two graphs and hides the third one. Moreover, there is evidence that temperature rise preceded the CO2 rise (long before the industrial revolution) so that the cause and effect that Al Gore claims is completely wrong.”
When I asked Dr Shaviv what he thought about my ideas on climate change, especially about the possibility that the very future of Isreal could be at stake within the next 500 years if climate change is not halted, he replied: “I see your points, Danny, and I remain calm. The sun will take care of it.”
What Dr Shaviv was getting at was this: He believes that the sun is most responsible for the flucuations on the Earth’s temperature over millions of years and that global warming is caused by the sun even now, and is not caused by humans or the industrial output of carbon dioxide emissions or cars or India’s and China’s coal burning factories. He believes the sun will take care of eveything and that Al Gore is very very wrong about almost everything.
So we agreed to disagree, and remain online friends. I appreciated his candor in replying to my emails.
Meanwhile a headline on the Climate Depot website extrapolated from my concern for Israel’s future existence that I was acusing climate skeptics of anti-semitism, I simply do not understand how the editor of that site could twist my op-ed about the future of Israel’s existence into that. It just does not compute at all.
But as the climate wars heat up, the language is going to heat up too, and we must all be on guard against twisting the words of our opponents into false accusations.
San Diego Jewish World, 12 June 2012