Mists of Doubt
It begins with the picture of an albatross soaring into the air, and a quote in the middle.
“Until my ghastly tale is told,
this heart within me burns.”
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The picture fades. Now there is an ocean on the screen, peacefully blue under a white sky. Close to the shore, a flock of Albatrosses is resting in a field. The birds are squeaking altogether, the tune high-pitched, yet musical.
A mamma bird has come to feed her little chick. The chick keeps jerking her head for a while, and then finally pushes her juvenile beak into the more matured one of her mamma’s.
There’s a dead bird. Or rather the insides of a dead bird, full of dozens of plastic bottle-caps, a broken plastic plate, a toothbrush whose tufts have gone dark black, and many more unrecognizable debris.
A little bird convulses on the ground. Her insides are killing her.
There are more dead birds whose bellies are cut open. More debris.
A man speaks in voice-over:
Do we have the courage the face the realities of our time, and allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it transforms us?
Masuma’s heart pounds. Her insides tighten, as if her body is trying to imitate what those poor birds must have felt.
So far she’d read scores of articles about plastic pollution for her class project. But the trailer of this film ‘Albatross’, (1) this harsh but true reality, was too much to bear.
Guilt consumes her.
In the search bar of YouTube, Masuma types: effects of climate change. A series of videos appears. She clicks on one randomly.
Lately, Masuma had been delving into plastic pollution. She wanted to see how ruthless the system was, how far it could go to realize its inexhaustible wants. The more she learned, the more enraged she became.
There was an inspiration too. She realized she had discovered a new niche for herself: protecting the environment. This niche was noble, something more than herself. Overnight it made her life more meaningful than ever. She felt as if her niche was calling on her.
Last night she learned from an article plastics contribute to climate change as well. So today she thought she’d explore climate change.
The video starts. She leans in.
The video discusses the effects of climate change on four different aspects of human life: oceans, weather, food, and health. Masuma takes notes a couple of times.
Right after the video ends, something springs to her mind.
Let’s take a look at the comments. I might find more inspired people. Who knows?
She scrolls down.
I came here for my homework and this video was really helpful. Thank you so much.
Who else is watching this for classwork? Like.
We can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather correctly and these guys can predict what’s going to happen twenty-thirty years from now? Shame!
Frowning, she scrolls further down.
That’s what I’m saying, dude. Climate crisis is just bad scientists trying to get more funding.
Climate science is fake! Check this out.
She clicks on the video link.
The video shows how NASA and NOAA have constantly tampered with temperature records, how they have intentionally cooled temperatures of past years and warmed those of recent times to show a fraudulent warming trend.
“This is not science,” the man in the video says, “it’s fraud.”
She finds herself shocked. All that inspiration, all the dreams of a pursuing a noble cause feels so worthless now. Disappointment weighs her down. She feels weak.
Lying in her bed, Masuma lets her thoughts wander.
This morning, when she searched ‘climate change lies’, ‘climate change fraud’, ‘there is no climate crisis’ and suchlike, Google initially didn’t show the skeptic blogs. But she stubbornly ignored the pro-climate contents, kept searching, and soon found what she was looking for.
She learned surface temperatures cannot be trusted because scientists are constantly adjusting them to support the theory of global warming. She saw old newspaper cuttings that showed fierce, record-breaking temperatures, clear indications that Earth had been much warmer a long time even before carbon emissions mounted. She read climate had been changing since the time immemorial, and it’s not a crisis at all.
She wanted to deny all of it, but the evidence was right there, evidence that seemed nothing short of compelling.
“Damn those scientists!” she mutters now. “Who gave them the right to spread meaningless fear? Who gave them the right to mislead people? Damn those liars!”
But rage doesn’t hide her disappointment. Deep inside, she needs the climate crisis to be true. It’s been only a week since she discovered her true niche, thinking she could play a role in fixing the system. And now it seems the system’s okay; nothing needs fixing.
She wonders if all the climate scientists think this way. Maybe this is how this entire concept came into being in the first place: to create an imaginary crisis so a few people could relish the satisfaction of solving it.
She rolls over in the bed, trying to cease the racing thoughts.
Masuma types in the search bar of Google: data tampering allegations on NASA.
She didn’t look up anything about climate change in the last two days. She tried to push all those fanciful dreams at the back of her head. But trying to forget only made it worse; she grew more frustrated.
And this morning, the frustration had turned unbearable.
The second search result from the top reads: Explainer: How data adjustment affects global temperature records. Curious, she clicks on it.
She reads slowly in the beginning, then fast, then even faster, the beating of her heart gently building up.
She learns adjustments made to temperature records are not unscientific; they account for a number of changing factors—changes in methods of measurement, time of observation, and location of weather stations—which, if left unadjusted, may show inaccurate information, even an artificial cooling effect.
She reads more articles. She learns more. The weight of disappointment disappears, and a renewed purposefulness returns.
I’m so stupid, she thinks. Why didn’t I read these before?
@Masuma Rubbish.... Theories based on manipulated data is at best hogwash.
@Bertie Blue I mean no offence. Why do you think climate change is just manipulated data?
@ Masuma Because they are always fiddling with data. The so-called ‘adjusted’ data is nothing but intentional tempering to get lucrative funding.
@Bertie Blue Adjustments are made to account for a number of factors, as you will find in this article: Explainer: How data adjustments affect global temperature records(2) Please read it.
@Masuma If you believe that rubbish, you'll believe anything. Urban heat island effect cannot be corrected by calculator; only solution is to discount those gauges entirely. But they don't discount them because without the adjusted data the alarmism BS doesn't hold up.
@Bertie Blue I understand your concern. But UHI effects have little influence on long-term temperature trends. In fact, scientists found out stations positioned in urban and rural areas show similar warming trends. Here’s the evidence: Does Urban Heat Island effect exaggerate global warming trends?(3)
@Masuma Any gauge affected by UHI is garbage, and Garbage In equals Garbage Out. I can’t help you if you can’t accept the truth.
Masuma swipes up and down, skimming through her YouTube conversation with a skeptic. She’d started the chat with gusto, thinking she’d dispel all the doubts and misconceptions of this Bertie Blue.
She certainly didn’t meet a climate skeptic before. How could she know Bertie wasn’t there to debate, but only to disregard and disagree?
Bertie wasn’t the only one Masuma encountered. She chatted with other skeptics and tried the same polite approach. It didn’t work.
Why can’t I convince them? she thinks. Am I just wasting my time here?
She feels powerless.
“Remember, Internet is great at deceiving. There are people out there who are literally paid to create doubts in your mind. So always be careful about what you believe. If someone’s showing really convincing evidence of the so-called climate fraud, you better check facts from other sources, from honest sources who care about the environment, like my channel! Please like, share, and subscribe if you want me to keep enlightening you. Ta-ta!”
Masuma stops the record. She giggles. Her YouTube channel, which she opened three weeks ago, is getting new subscribers every day.
When she was trying to convince skeptics, Masuma realizes now, she was aiming for the impossible. You can’t convince those who have already taken a side, even if you can debunk each and every argument they have. But you can definitely work on those who are willing to believe, show them how the deception is done and how to be safe from it. That way, your efforts are not a waste, and you can hope to make a difference.
She can hear the call of her niche again, but this time, she doesn’t have the slightest of doubt.
1.Albatross is a is a film directed by Chris Jordan which depicts how Laysan albatrosses are dying because of plastic contamination in Midway Island, an atoll in North Pacific Ocean.
2.Harrisson, T. (2017, July 19). Explainer: How data adjustments affect global temperature records. Carbon Brief. Retrieved from https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-how-data-ad...
3.Mothincarnate. (2015, July 5) Does Urban Heat Island effect exaggerate global warming trends? Skeptical Science. Retrieved from http://www.skepticalscience.com/urban-heat-island...