What if all this was a bad joke? An invention by scientists who want to scare us and get funding for expensive studies? Some people claim this is the case. They are gradually fewer and fewer of them. They call themselves “sceptics” after Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish economist’s 1988 book called The Skeptical Environmentalist.
They are a heterogeneous group of people who don’t always agree. Some of them are recognised scientists but others don’t know much about the subject. In the United States, the most important sceptics have been heavily subsidised by oil companies who have an obvious interest in the matter. Exxon keeps giving them millions of dollars. This has allowed them to organise themselves into extremely influential lobbies. Still today, it allows them to get disproportionate media cover. They have played an important role in political debate and the government’s attitude, especially in the United States.
They are usually based on occasional uncertainties or minute mistakes in the details that are used to question general data. The facts have indeed only been revealed progressively. A few decades ago, we were rather expecting future glaciation. But today, the debate is over. Over twenty years, thousands of researchers from over 130 countries – almost all specialists – have rallied round a UN offshoot, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC).
Many details still need to be clarified and many questions must still be answered. But thanks to the IPCC’s work, which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, there is no longer any doubt about the existence of global warming, and its cause which mainly has to do with greenhouse gases emitted by man’s activities.