Why Are We Still Debating Climate Change?

Let me start by presenting some articles. The first four present results of surveys of scientists concerning their thoughts on climate change. The last one is an article in National Review challenging the results in these surveys.







I won’t rehash the articles; you can read them for yourselves. Highlights I found:

  • The surveys explain their methodology in detail.
  • In all cases, the vast majority of scientists conclude that climate change is real.
  • The vast majority of scientists also conclude that climate change is man made.
  • The degree to which the scientists claim global warming has manmade causes increases as the expertise in climate change increases.
  • The National Review article misrepresents the results from the other articles.

I have heard the argument from many people, including some national news sources, that this winter is cold, so therefore global warming isn’t real. Anyone who has taken any statistics course can see why this is not a sound argument. It’s like saying that above average height is not important in basketball because Scottie Pippen is short.

The earth’s temperature has been varying; many factors contribute to the temperature on any given day. However, the trend over hundreds of years shows a slightly increasing trend up until about 1900. At that point, the trend increases dramatically. Throughout the period, the temperature has fluctuated, but the overall trend has been upwards. One point does not a trend make.

Some people will suggest that I am getting my information from biased sources. (They already have, even before I presented anything.) The sources above (other than the National Review and maybe Skeptical Science) are impartial, interested only in presenting scientific findings. In my mind, even if the source might be biased, if the methodology is clearly laid out, and if the results are peer reviewed, any possible bias is irrelevant.

Any suggestion that the data are being tweaked by scientists to further their cause has several major flaws. First, it does a great disservice to scientists, who are seeking answers in the most accurate ways possible. Second, if you believe that tens of thousands of scientists across the globe can coordinate their research and their peers’ analyses to further their cause, you are delving into tin-foil hat territory. Massive conspiracy theories at this level have never been proven true.

Originally I was going to discuss why I don’t think scientists, politicians (Al Gore specifically), or countries (China) are perpetrating a hoax for financial gain. Then I realized the point is moot; the consensus is overwhelming that global warming is man made. They need no reason to be deceptive, because they aren’t being deceptive.

Experiments also suggest that we can reduce the effect of global warming by moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Many more enlightened leaders are currently making moves toward reducing the effect of man made causes of global warming.

This is exactly the place for government to take action. Corporations have no incentive on their own to change to renewable sources. There is no immediate economic gain. The long-term downside could be catastrophic. What the government can do is make sure there is an immediate economic gain to converting to renewable energy.

Some people may not believe global warming is happening, but the thing about facts is they don’t care what you believe.

Why are we still debating climate change?



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