Behind the Climate Change Scandals

Scandals over the past few months have given rise to people’s concerns about the reliability of scientific evidence on climate change. Recent polls have also suggested that concern about the threat of global warming is weakening in Australia. In November it was alleged that a series of hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia showed the manipulation and distortion of data. Then in January it was revealed that a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included errors regarding the speed at which the Himalayan glaciers are melting.  

Sections of the mass media and big business jumped on the scandals claiming they were proof that evidence confirming global warming is still inconclusive. It is true that some minor errors were uncovered in the IPCC document but they do not in any way disprove the research that shows climate change is real and that it needs to be urgently addressed.

As for the email leak dubbed ‘climategate’, while it may have shown up some less than perfect practices, absolutely nothing of substance was revealed to challenge the majority view of climate scientists. While skeptics claim that the scandals bring into question the entire premise of the science of climate change, they refuse to apply such stringent methods of scrutiny to their own research.

While socialists are not climate change skeptics we are skeptical about all research that is conducted within the framework of a profit driven system. Under capitalism scientific research is not purely conducted for the betterment of humankind. Most research is funded in some way by big business and always reflects a certain political motive.

If a direct funding option is not available big business will often lobby governments to place scientists of their choice in charge of a project. Evidence of this was uncovered in the ‘climategate’ scandal where it was shown that big oil companies like Exxon Mobil were involved in ‘intense lobbying’ of the US government – especially in regards to positions within the IPCC. Not surprisingly this was largely ignored by the mass media.

When it comes to environmental research there is a section of big business that funds the climate change deniers. This wing, led by the big energy companies, is concerned about losing profits if there is a turn away from investment into fossil fuels.

At the same time we have another group of corporations who are set to make a lot of money from the introduction renewable technology. These companies are happy to fund research that proves climate change is real as long as it increases their capacity to make profits from selling ‘green’ products.

When people see scandals like ‘climategate’ and the errors in the IPCC report side by side with ineffective Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS), you can understand why they would think claims about climate change might be exaggerated.

For ordinary people an ETS just looks like another tax. It is a pathetic response to climate change that will mean increased costs and an increase in government debt. An ETS will also create a carbon market where the big polluters can make profits without even reducing their emissions! With working people set to pay and bosses set to profit is it any wonder that skepticism has increased?

The main lesson to be drawn from the climate scandals is that environmental research and action is too important to be left in the hands of big business and the governments that represent them.

The only way forward for the environmental movement is to reject the profit driven market system and to campaign for a system that puts people and the environment first. A democratically planned and publicly owned economy would be owned and controlled by the majority not just a rich few. This would mean that research would be reliable and a proper plan could be put in place to address climate change and environmental destruction.

 

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Stop the health cuts

Next Article

Course closures, funding cuts, job losses, fees...

Related Posts

East Belfast: Services under attack

With harsher spending cuts in the pipeline, the Assembly’s current batch of cutbacks are already hitting schools and other educational facilities hard in East Belfast. In July, with construction set to begin, the Education Minister Caitriona Ruane announced that Strandtown Primary School would not be getting the new school building it was promised years ago.

Now in August, Victoria Park primary School has also been told work on its much needed new purpose-built building has been postponed. The fact that these two nearby primary schools have both been denied funding compounds the longstanding neglect of primary education in East Belfast.

Thomas Cook – A courageous struggle

The significance of the Thomas Cook occupation cannot be overstated. At the time of writing the issue of redundancy payments is not resolved but already the struggle has exposed the pro-big business nature of the courts and the Gardai. Crucially it was a victory of the spirit of the workers and showed the extraordinary ability of people to fight to defend their rights.

Twenty-eight workers arrested and dragged through the courts in scenes more common in far away dictatorial regimes. The Thomas Cook occupation showed that “social partnership” does not exist. It also illustrated the anger that working class people feel at being made pay the price for the crisis through job cuts and attacks on rights. When told that the company was going to close with immediate effect the workers occupied the building.