Climate Change: Will Non-Believers Actually Defeat Believers?

Despite an increasingly skeptical world audience, some politicians, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, keep talking.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has spoken often about the dangers of global warming. Here, she addresses the attendees of the 2011 Petersberg Climate Dialogue. (AFP/Getty)
Jul 16, 2012
A former Gourmet staffer, Lawrence enjoys writing about design, food, travel, and lots of other stuff.

In February, Bloomberg News compared German Chancellor Angela Merkel to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and suggested she was having her Iron Lady moment as she worked to steer Europe through its financial crisis. Let’s hope that label starts to stick because then maybe more people will pay attention to Merkel’s comments on climate change.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Merkel issued a warning “that global warming will accelerate at a dramatic rate unless leaders reach a deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.”

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Unfortunately, she’s got an uphill battle on her hands even in Europe where the population had, in the past, generally been supportive of Merkel’s viewpoint. An April 2011 Gallup poll found, “Majorities in developed countries that are key participants in the global climate debate continue to view global warming as a serious threat, but their concern is more subdued than it was in 2007-2008. In the U.S., a slim majority (53%) currently see it as a serious personal threat, down from 63% in previous years.”

With regard to Europe in particular their findings noted, “Concern about global warming has also declined across western, southern, and eastern Europe, and in several cases, even more precipitously than in the U.S. In France, for example, the percentage saying global warming is a serious threat fell from 75% in 2007-2008 to 59% in 2010. In the United Kingdom, ground zero for the climate data-fixing scandal known as Climategate, the percentage dropped from 69% to 57% in the same period.” 

Ah, yes, Climategate.

As you may recall, in 2009 over 1,000 emails and other documents were stolen or leaked from the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. A November 2011 article in The Guardian explains that, “CRU’s speciality was reconstructing records of the Earth’s past temperatures from thermometer data . . . Selected contents of the emails were used by some to suggest that scientists had been manipulating or hiding data.”

But the newspaper notes that an independent review later “found the scientists had not fudged their results or silenced their critics. But it found serious shortcomings in the openness with which they worked, posing a risk to the credibility of UK climate science and indicating a transformation in the way science has to be conducted in this century.”

However, the damage was done and seized upon by many people around the world to show that global warming is a made-up conceit. (“Hello, Sarah Palin.”)

So Merkel’s comments may be heeded, or they may be gone with tomorrow’s news cycle.

However, it’s worth noting that back in 2005, Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, reported that those wild and crazy guys and gals over at the European Environmental Agency said, “Europe is facing the worst climate change in five millennia as a result of global warming.” Fact or fiction? You decide.

Do you support Angela Merkel’s views on climate change?

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Lawrence Karol is a freelance writer and editor who lives in New York City in a mid-century-modern-inspired apartment with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet editor, who enjoys writing about design, food, and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence

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