“Friends of Science”? I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means.

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
June 12 2014 9:58 AM

With Friends Like These …

Sick Planet Earth_stock

Sharon Jacob

Well, if there’s one thing you can always count on when it comes to organized global warming denial, it’s how Orwellian it is.

After all, that’s the only reasonable explanation for the group that calls itself “Friends of Science”. Because friends certainly don’t act the way they do. Ignoring all of science and then saying whoppers about it isn’t something I’d consider exactly friendly to science. For evidence, I present to you a billboard they put up in Calgary recently:

Friends of Science billboard
Orwell himself would blush with the audacity.

Photo found on the Web; origin unknown. Friends of Science acknowledges it is real.

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It says, “The Sun is the main driver of climate change. Not you. Not CO2.”

This is, to phrase it carefully, a huge load of stuff that comes out of the wrong end of a bull.

The Sun is not the main driver of climate change. At least, not modern climate change. In fact, the opposite is true, as Skeptical Science shows: The amount of energy emitted by the Sun has gone down slightly over the past few decades as temperatures have risen.

skepticalscience_temp_sun
Temperatures go up, Sun goes down.

Photo from Skeptical Science

In this billboard, Friends of Science is using a semantic trick. Climate change over very long timescales is linked to the Sun, sure, but the modern upward surge in global temperatures is clearly not linked to the Sun. In fact, it can be shown it must be due to human influence.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

But then, these “friends” of science are flat-out refusniks when it comes to global warming science; they deny the Earth is warming, they deny modern temperatures are spiking upward, they deny carbon dioxide is the main driver of global warming, they deny sea level rise is a problem, they deny deny deny. Perusing their website is fascinating; it could be used as a wiki set up specifically to collect all the ridiculous long-debunked anti-science denial claptrap in one place. I mean, c’mon, they even promote Christopher Monckton with a straight face!

None of this is terribly surprising, though, seeing as how they’re funded by—can you guess? Can you?—the fossil fuel industry.

Interestingly, the billboard is put up by Pattison Outdoor, which has a checkered history of support for anti-science as well.

Groups like these have to twist themselves into Möbius strips to deny reality. That’s because we know temperatures are going up, we know this is due to the increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and we know this is our fault.

Sometimes being a friend means sticking by your friend even when they bring you bad news. True friends of science know this. Just calling yourself a friend doesn’t make you one if you don’t act like one. It makes you very much something else.    

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