Climate change activism has relied heavily on memes to spread its message – ‘the greenhouse effect’; ‘Polar Bears are in peril’; ‘Global warming will reach a tipping point then were doomed’. As well as direct climate memes there are also counter-opponent memes – ‘Skeptics are extensively and generously funded by evil big oil’.
A meme is an idea or belief that is spread through society. This is a concept analogous to the inheritance of genes, except that memes are ‘units of information’ spread by cultural contact. Memes are the sagas, folktales and nursery rhyme-hand-me-down dos and don’ts of our age, the sound-bite age. Often they are close cousins to spin.
Climate memes now have rivals in skeptic memes. Intentionally or not, skeptics have successfully planted a number of memes that have fallen on the fertile ground of public minds and have germinated and started to thrive and grow. This has resulted in the Tipping Point Reached I noted from social media reactions to articles on climate last week.
Skeptical memes are taking hold because they make sense to people – good old common sense. It makes sense that clouds are very important to the climate and should not be overlooked in climate models. That’s why Svensmark’s theory is so appealing and the world is willing science to find out that it, or a variation of it, is supported by empirical evidence. Joe Public doesn’t care – it makes sense to him “Well, stands to reason don’t it mate?”.
Likewise we’ve always known that the sun is our source of light and heat and we know in our bones that we should worry if old Sol is heading for a rest phase. Did not our ancestors worry annually such that we find elaborate seasonal calendars like Stonehenge across the world tied with sun- and nature-worship? With Mother Nature providing plenty of snow and cold it’s easy for the average person to brush off complex arguments about positive feedbacks from increases of a trace gas and go with what seems to be self-evident. And if doubt remains, they can drag up the vestiges of a half-remembered history of frost fairs and the lack-of-sunspots-little-ice-age.
Ultimately we may not need to worry about the scientific consensus contrived by the climate cartel. It may be sufficient to put our trust in nature, common sense and democracy. I do hope we’re not too late (here anyway) for that last one still to win out over the Eurocrats.