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Earth Science

Strong Climate Change Opinions Are Self-Reinforcing 655

Posted by Soulskill
from the opinions-are-like-delusions dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A study recently published in Nature (abstract) looked at how personal beliefs altered a person's perception of climate change. Surveying a sample of people in 2008 and then the same people again in 2011, the study looked for 'motivated reasoning,' where 'high belief certainty influenced perceptions of personal experience,' and 'experiential learning,' where 'perceived personal experience of global warming led to increased belief certainty.' According to the article, 'When you categorize individuals by engagement — essentially how confident and knowledgeable they feel about the facts of the issue — differences are revealed. For the highly-engaged groups (on both sides), opinions about whether climate is warming appeared to drive reports of personal experience. That is, motivated reasoning was prevalent. On the other hand, experience really did change opinions for the less-engaged group, and motivated reasoning took a back seat.None of that is truly surprising, but it leads to a couple interesting points. First, the concrete here-and-now communication strategy is probably a good one for those whose opinions aren't firmly set — fully 75 percent of Americans, according to the polling. But second, that tack is unlikely to get anywhere with the 8 percent or so of highly-engaged Americans who reject the idea of a warming planet, and are highly motivated to disregard anything that says otherwise.'"
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Strong Climate Change Opinions Are Self-Reinforcing

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  • In other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A bsd fool (2667567) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:11PM (#42229609)

    'motivated reasoning,' where 'high belief certainty influenced perceptions of personal experience,'

    "I believe GW is happening and that it causes bad things. Today bad weather happened, must be due to GW."

    or

    "I do not believe GW is happening or that it causes bad things. Today bad weather happened, as it does from time to time."

    'experiential learning,' where 'perceived personal experience of global warming led to increased belief certainty.'

    "I did not believe GW was happening, but did believe it would cause worse hurricane. Today a bad hurricane happened, so now I have more faith in GW."

    or

    "I did not believe GW was happening, but did believe it would cause hotter summers.. We had snowfall in June so, therefore, no GW.

    The far more interesting thing than the conclusion reached by the source is that none of these is a remotely scientific line of reasoning. Correlating personal experience (i.e., weather events) with climate is long acknowledged as foolish, just like jumping to the conclusion that you live in the most unsafe city in the world because you got mugged -- or that you live in the safest one because you've never been mugged.

  • They don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis350 (772791) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:13PM (#42229617)
    I've read plenty of studies talking about how abnormally cold winters in many places are also the result of climate change. What you did there? It's a logical fallacy. You're assuming that scientists say that, then making an erroneous conclusion based on it. But your initial assumption isn't factual.
  • Re:How come... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:21PM (#42229683)

    He doesn't have to, because of the magical use of the meaningless term "Scientific consensus" by virtually all of the scientists and journalists writing about the field. What we're told, over and over, is that virtually all credible scientists are speaking with one voice.

    The idea that science is somehow subject to a vote is even scarier than the idea that it should be subservient to religion.

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bunbuntheminilop (935594) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:24PM (#42229703)

    weather != climate

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:29PM (#42229729)

    Scientists rarely say anything one way or the other. They publish papers and then the politicos, pundits and whatever you call us here on Slashdot and other sites start arguing and calling each other names over what they published.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:48PM (#42229843)

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/ [skepticalscience.com]

    A lot of the anti-globalwarming movement rely on classic FUD, throwing enough shit on the wall and counting on that something will stick.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:02PM (#42229929)

    Climate change is big business. Those in the profession who don't push the agenda end up hungry. Money corrupts all, and at this point I basically have a hard time believing anyone 100%. Scare tactics work, and generate money. And when caught in a flat out lie, over overexageration it becomes a 1 step forward, 2 steps back as far as trust with me.

    So how come scientists in all the other fields are too stoopid to get in on the scam? Can't astronomers just make up claims about a non-existent asteroid that's going to smash us later this century if we don't poor big money into further research, and rely on greed to keep anyone from revealing the fraud? Physicists, astronomers, biologists, geologists - all too dull witted or honest to do what those clever climatologists have done.

  • Re:How come... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Capt.Albatross (1301561) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:04PM (#42229937)

    He doesn't have to, because of the magical use of the meaningless term "Scientific consensus" by virtually all of the scientists and journalists writing about the field. What we're told, over and over, is that virtually all credible scientists are speaking with one voice.

    It's a simple fact that virtually all credible scientists are speaking with one voice, and as such, it has meaning. It is not direct evidence that global warming is occurring; it is good evidence that the direct evidence has been thoroughly examined.

    The idea that science is somehow subject to a vote is even scarier than the idea that it should be subservient to religion.

    Well, I have comforting news for you: it's not. You seem to have scared yourself with your own rhetoric.

  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KeensMustard (655606) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:07PM (#42229965)
    There isn't any need, nor motivation to persuade anyone. Denialists can think what they like. What they cannot do, is say what they like. If you are tempted to post denialist lies, misinformation and scaremongering, then you will be called on it. So get used to it.
  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:18PM (#42230027)

    Then, it's climate, not weather. Otherwise somebody would have to take responsibility and what self-respecting politician would do that?

    No matter how many decades engineers say that the levees in New Orleans are perfectly insufficient for a city in that place, it's still climate change when the inevitable happens. When hurricane Irene came to New York last year, the models of the expected flooding were right at everybodies hands - because it happened before. Several times.

    Nobody asked the obvious question: Why hasn't anybody done anything about it, since everybody seems to know about it?

  • by jamesh (87723) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:37PM (#42230109)

    but I also believe it is not due to mankind.

    You must concede that mankind has some influence though right? I mean for millions of years there has been a fairly stable cycle of volcano's etc spewing out CO2 and the plants locking the carbon away underground to keep the balance approximately even, and now we are taking that buried carbon and turning it back into CO2, and also cutting down the trees, while the other outputs of CO2 remain approximately constant.

    CO2 is a known greenhouse gas and the mechanism is well understood, so I hardly think that's up for debate. Just how much influence that is having on the current climate and how much influence it is going to have in the future is a bit of guesswork (there are other much more potent greenhouse gases around, like water vapour and methane), but to say that mankind has not had any impact at all seems a little ignorant.

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:44PM (#42230151) Homepage Journal
    The climate data isn't mere the preponderance of the evidence, it is overwhelming. A team that loses 5-4 can say the need a couple of breaks, a team that loses 11,000 to 24 – got hosed.
  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0111 1110 (518466) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:51PM (#42230189)

    I am pro-GW (I am in favor of it). So perhaps I may be of some assistance. I try to resist posting in global warming related 'stories' because:

    1. They are off topic for this site. Nothing to do with geeks or technology or Linux.

    2. Any post I make is likely to be modded down to -1 and vanish before any interesting discussion can develop. That is pretty much inevitible with any controversial topic where the overwhelming majority is on one side of the debate. I think you guys really do prefer to just debate among yourselves anyway.

    Let me summarize the debate. One side believes there is sufficient evidence for theory X. The other side believes there is insufficient evidence. The side that believes there is sufficient evidence believes that the evidence is so overwhelming that to be skeptical of it is of the same order as being skeptical of gravity.

    I personally believe rational argument is virtually impossible on the topic of global warming. Devout AGW believers will not be swayed by any argument. To them
    AGW is self-evident and the burden of proof should be on the other side to prove that it is not happening.

    GW heretics like myself OTOH, will not be convinced of AGW without the sort of overwhelming evidence that we aren't likely to ever have. Certainly not within the lifetime of anyone now alive. The fact that the vast majority believes AGW is undeniably real and even some kind of immediate threat to our species makes it even more unlikely that any real evidence will ever be gathered. Why bother to gather evidence about something that the majority of the world has already decided is undeniably true? These days scientists (and I use that term loosely) focus on refining and reinforcing the argument in favor of AGW. Not so much on proving that it exists.

  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:56PM (#42230225) Homepage Journal
    "People are entitled to their own opinions, they aren't entitled to their own facts."

    The two facts here that the denialists are hiding from are 1. AGW is overwhelmingly supported by the evidence, 2. They ran and a running a large well funded smear operation to lie about AGW, and continue to do so, for their own self-interest.

    The tolerance for thermocidal mania is reaching zero, because AGW is an existential threat. Within a finite, and increasingly short period of time, denialism will be as acceptable as creationism and overt bigotry: some people will still feel it, but people will voice it only to be transgressive.

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fatwilbur (1098563) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:59PM (#42230249)

    And of course, we understand the mechanism.

    Are you sure? The last glacial maximum was between 19-25000 years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Glacial_Maximum) during which time vast portions of North America and Europe were covered in ice sheets.

    19,000 years is a pretty short period of time in the grand scheme of things. To think the location I'm currently living was underneath a kilometer of ice less than 20,000 years ago, and no there are no glaciers anywhere close, the logical conclusion is the earth has been warming up for a lot longer than just the time since the industrial age. In fact, from what I understand about earth's history, we've been a majorly tropical planet for most of the time and ice cover is somewhat rare.

    There's no doubt we have some effect on the changing climate (in regards to temperature via the greenhouse effect), but to say that is the mechanism causing the earth to warm seems like a huge jump from basic logic.

  • Re:subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0111 1110 (518466) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @11:07PM (#42230297)

    1. The vast majority of scientists who have devoted their professional lives to the study of the earth's climate;

    I think you will find that the vast majority of so called climate scientists have believed in AGW from a very young age and are not attempting to disprove the theory (as you would normally do in science), but to reinforce it as much as possible so as to convince politicians to save the world from what they passionately believe will otherwise result in the extinction of our entire species and perhaps even all animal life on the planet.

    Imagine a mythical climate scientist who is not a true believer. Who didn't drink the koolaid and is naturally skeptical of the AGW theory. How far do you think he would get in school? Unless he lied on his exams he would fail or at least do poorly. He would be unlikely to go into a field where it was so obvious he was not wanted. If I had been interested in studying the Earth's climate and was not persuaded by the AGW arguments/evidence I would certainly not consider becoming a climate scientist as a practical option. Even if I managed to somehow graduate by telling the profs what they wanted to hear on every exam I would still never be hired by anyone as a climate scientist when they discovered that I was a skeptic.

  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @11:27PM (#42230381)

    I am pro-GW (I am in favor of it)

    I'm guessing that that doesn't mean what it sounds like!

    Joking aside, I appreciate your forthright post. And I despise the fact that people mod down posts that state views that they don't agree with. (Much better, IMO, to mod them *up*, so that the post and the refutations (or attempts) will be read by more people.)

    But IMO, here's the crux:

    Let me summarize the debate. One side believes there is sufficient evidence for theory X. The other side believes there is insufficient evidence. The side that believes there is sufficient evidence believes that the evidence is so overwhelming that to be skeptical of it is of the same order as being skeptical of gravity.

    I am not a climatologist, but I do know a bit about how science works. And I know that the overwhelming majority of *scientists* believes that there is sufficient evidence for the fact (not theory) of global warming. So for me there *aren't* two sides.

    Now scientists aren't divinely inspired, and are in fact sometimes wrong, but in the big picture science bases its views on evidence, and even goes out of its way to look for refuting evidence. So for me this is like asking whether I should invest in someone's flying car business when the overwhelming majority of aeronautical engineers say that the design won't actually fly, contradicted by a smaller number of non-experts who publish their views as editorials in the Wall Street Journal rather than engineering journals. There simply isn't the slightest reason to examine "two sides". Especially when the contradictors resort to arguments that the entire field of aeronautical engineering are lying because they want the venture to fail. It's just nonsense.

    I personally believe rational argument is virtually impossible on the topic of global warming. Devout AGW believers will not be swayed by any argument. To them AGW is self-evident and the burden of proof should be on the other side to prove that it is not happening.

    No, AGW is based on evidence. As I said, I'm not a climatologist, but I can read.

    The fact that the vast majority believes AGW is undeniably real and even some kind of immediate threat to our species makes it even more unlikely that any real evidence will ever be gathered.

    FWIW, I do believe that AGW is undeniably real, but that the only "threat" is poses to our species is inconvenience, and probably a lot of deaths in wars by nations trying to optimize their own convenience at the expense of others, but hardly an extinction-level event. (*Maybe* a runaway instability will render our planet uninhabitable, but I'm not aware of any evidence that that is our fate.)

    The fact that the vast majority believes AGW is undeniably real and even some kind of immediate threat to our species makes it even more unlikely that any real evidence will ever be gathered. Why bother to gather evidence about something that the majority of the world has already decided is undeniably true?

    As a matter of fact, scientists *are* busy gathering additional evidence. The fact that both old and new evidence overwhelmingly support one conclusion is hardly a reason to deny that conclusion.

    These days scientists (and I use that term loosely) focus on refining and reinforcing the argument in favor of AGW. Not so much on proving that it exists.

    Scientists are also busy studying gravity and the expanding universe, but as with global warming, they're far past the point of needing to determine whether those phenomena exist.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @11:54PM (#42230545)

    [parent post not worth quoting]

    a) No climatologist claims that they can explain "every single event ever observed", even if you limit that to relevant events.

    b) Why do you think what climatologists say isn't falsifiable? Did thermometers stop working or something? Are the melting glaciers and ice caps irrelevant? Do you know of some climatologists' hypothesis where measurable quantities such as, say, warming, are irrelevant?

    This is like saying that continental drift is an unfalsifiable hypothesis in an age when we can directly measure it.

  • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:02AM (#42230593)

    Show me the numbers. Not someone's opinion about what they mean, but a detailed description of each experiment and the raw data that resulted.

    They already have: it's called the scientific literature. It's not their fault you haven't taken the time and effort to read and understand it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:13AM (#42230659)

    This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

    According to you, a scientist that has fact based evidence of an immenemt disaster, has their facts count for nothing as soon as they warn the populace since that is political. I hope you go back to the troglodytes to which you belong a d leave civilization alone. We don't want you.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:15AM (#42230663)
    Farmers, ski lift operators etc can experience it over decades.
    After listening to some old radio programs from 1988 I'm astonished that the PR firms and merchants in the temple managed to bring this anti-science bullshit up from nowhere and convince so many people that scientists are lying to them. We're training a generation of fools and setting up our nations for decline.
  • by steelfood (895457) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:31AM (#42230749)

    Climate science is hard. It's so hard even the experts don't completely understand it. And to even become an expert relies on knowledge about hundreds, even thousands of otherwise independent systems, as well as how they tie in together on the planet to form climate.

    To expect Joe Sixpack to use climate science as the basis of their rationale behind whether to accept AGW is unreasonable. For the average person, there are only two ways to make up their mind: 1) trust other people or 2) trust their own observations.

    You can see the problem with #1 right off the back. Which "other people" should Joe Sixpack trust? Scientists are people. Their religious leader, or the local politician, or their next door neighbor are all people as well. What differentiates a scientist from all those other people? Well, a scientist has a degree certifying the person's knowledge in an area. Only, a certificate is merely a piece of paper. Accepting that the degree implies expertness is a matter of trust as well. But what about all those other people, i.e. religious leader, politician, or neighbor? Those people are closer to Joe Sixpack. They have a constant and direct influence on their lives, and have already gained some measure of trust.

    At this point, the more introspective and thoughtful Joe Sixpack would recognize that the latter group of people are not experts on the matter. So yeah, they might be trustworthy in the eyes of Joe Sixpack, but they probably know nothing about the climate and how it works (sure, if they're lucky, they live near a climate scientists, but that's rare). So they discard option #1, and go for option #2.

    The human mind is not very good at processing things as vast and as complex as the climate. They cannot memorize and graph even two years worth of data inside their heads, not to mention ten (some people cannot even add inside their heads, but they're a special breed). They cannot correlate a special event in California with a special event in Europe. But they are good at processing the current day's weather, and drawing simple patterns based on notable weather anomalies. So that's exactly what they do.

    So now that I've established the parameters of the problem, I leave everyone else to come up with solutions. No matter the solution, it involves at least interjecting into either the first or the second option. And to make things more complicated, there are big companies who are messing around with the first option already, and they have tons more money than most individuals to throw at the task.

  • Re:How come... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:37AM (#42230783)

    By my admittedly layman's interpretation of what read, the evidence for AGW has only been getting stronger over time

    Perhaps because that's all that people are looking for. No matter what happens, it is inevitably spun as evidence for AGW.

    Do you have the faintest idea how much prestige accrues to a scientist who overturns the common conception? Do we recognize the names of Einstein and Hubble because they were staunch supporters of the status quo?

    If I was a climatologist and had actual evidence that global warming wasn't happening, I'd make myself famous in a heartbeat.

  • Re:They don't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by microbox (704317) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:39AM (#42230803)
    Yeah, begging the question is now ambiguous. Best use "raising the question" or "loaded question" depending on what you mean.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:04AM (#42230933)

    You could just stop listening to the political sides and listen to climate scientists instead.
    Problem solved.

    Wrong, because the scientists have politicized themselves and the science.

    If a scientist advocates for some political action to be taken or not taken or policy to be enacted or not enacted then he has politicized himself, and his opinion is political, not scientific.

    That's ridiculous. If astronomers detect an asteroid on a collision course with the earth and testify before Congress about it, does that disqualify them from having an opinion on the topic? (And justify ignoring the threat?)

    Scientists do studies, perform experiments, and publish papers on purely scientific topics. They don't engage in political/ideological advocacy.

    Scientists are people, and are entitled to advocacy just like everyone else. In fact, if they advocate for public policy based on facts, there's far more reason to listen to them than to most people advocating this or that.

    Those advocating one side or the other are not scientists, at least while they are advocating.

    So, no scientists have advocated one side over another, as the very act of advocacy disqualifies them as performing "science" and therefor their opions are not "scientific", but political.

    Strat

    That wins a prize for convoluted logic even on the internet.

    If you don't like global warming, try arguing against the facts rather than for disqualifying the opinions of those who actually know the facts.

  • by readin (838620) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:18AM (#42231017)

    You can see the problem with #1 right off the back. Which "other people" should Joe Sixpack trust? Scientists are people. Their religious leader, or the local politician, or their next door neighbor are all people as well. What differentiates a scientist from all those other people? Well, a scientist has a degree certifying the person's knowledge in an area. Only, a certificate is merely a piece of paper. Accepting that the degree implies expertness is a matter of trust as well. But what about all those other people, i.e. religious leader, politician, or neighbor? Those people are closer to Joe Sixpack. They have a constant and direct influence on their lives, and have already gained some measure of trust.

    At this point, the more introspective and thoughtful Joe Sixpack would recognize that the latter group of people are not experts on the matter. So yeah, they might be trustworthy in the eyes of Joe Sixpack, but they probably know nothing about the climate and how it works (sure, if they're lucky, they live near a climate scientists, but that's rare). So they discard option #1, and go for option #2.

    The trick then, for Joe Sixpack, is figuring out what the scientists believe because unfortunately Joe isn't personally aquanted with very many climate scientists, or weather scientiests, or maybe even scientists in general. So where does Joe get his information about the scientists from? Newspapers, magazines, the TV. Unfortunately Joe long ago learned that those sources are full of crap and will willingly attempt to mislead him, or maybe even lie to him, in order to push agendas that the journalists want to push. Joe has learned to be very skeptical of those news sources. So when those news sources tell him that a lot of scientists say global warming is real, Joe is skeptical. And when Joe sees that this is what the news sources are saying after Al Gore made a big deal out of it, and Joe knows how cozy journalists are with the Democratic party, Joe is even more skeptical.

    When Joe reads what newspapers say about topics he knows about, Joe sees how badly those newspapers spin things. So how do you expect Joe to trust the newspapers on topics he knows nothing about?

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:30AM (#42231069)

    If a scientist advocates for some political action to be taken or not taken or policy to be enacted or not enacted then he has politicized himself, and his opinion is political, not scientific.

    That's ridiculous. If astronomers detect an asteroid on a collision course with the earth and testify before Congress about it, does that disqualify them from having an opinion on the topic? (And justify ignoring the threat?)

    Nice strawman, but that's not what's happened re: AGW. Scientists have come out making direct public statements and advocating proposals on public policy, not advising a government body whose job it is to do that.

    The rest of your post seems to advocate a meritocracy. Who and what determines who has "merit"? A group of "more-equals" that have a single viewpoint (being human, the maintenance and expansion of their own power)?

    Lisa Simpson learned why meritocracies eventually end in tyranny. Are you capable of as much critical thinking as a fictional animated preteen girl?

    Strat

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riverat1 (1048260) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @02:28AM (#42231345)

    Oh please, humans can do practically nothing to affect the humidity (water vapor level) of the atmosphere. The planet is 75% covered by water, a ready source of humidity. Any excess humidity we add quickly* precipitates out to rebalance the level, any humidity we remove will be replaced quickly from the vast sources of water. Temperature is the primary controller of humidity and water vapor levels in the atmosphere.

    *By quickly I mean in a matter of days, maybe a week or two.

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:18AM (#42231555)

    a) when AGW alarmists see record heat waves, it's because of global warming. when they see record cold snaps, it's because of global warming. then they move to "climate change" (which, always does, so that's like saying "I'm right as long as something that always happens keeps happening"), and then the record does something silly like exhibit a zero trend for 16 years.

    b) AGW isn't falsifiable because any observation of global average CO2 and global average temperature can be explained away with an ad hoc special pleading. If the melting glaciers *prove* AGW, but advancing glaciers don't *refute* it, then you've simply done a "heads I win, tails you lose".

    Continental drift *is* falsifiable -> find a seam of rock stretching from south america to africa that is all of exactly the same age (given that our current hypothesis of continental drift depends on the mid atlantic creating new rock as those two continents drifted apart).

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:43AM (#42231687)

    Well, let's be a bit more specific.

    For the past 16 years, the earth has *not* been changing in temperature in any statistically significant way.

    If you want to pick any particularly arbitrary points, you can assert that the earth is getting warmer, the earth is getting cooler, and the earth is staying the same temperature.

    1900-2012? Getting warmer.

    1998-2012? Staying the same.

    Fun fact, 1998-2012, we've been dramatically increasing global CO2 levels. The NOAA stated in 2008 that 15 years of no statistically significant warming would exclude their models at the 95% confidence level.

    So, if the falsifiable claim is simply "the earth is getting warmer", well, that's trivial - it happens all the time. The thing you missed from your falsifiable hypothesis is "human CO2 emissions are *causing* the earth to get X degrees warmer over Y amount of time" and "getting X degrees warmer over Y amount of time is going to cause catastrophic destruction that we must avoid by doing Z amount of economic damage to ourselves today".

    Sorry, still at step 1! :)

  • by microbox (704317) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:45AM (#42231699)

    I mean, really, there are people out there who *actually believe* that we have sophisticated enough GCMs to accurately model all major natural climactic influences...I mean, they *really* believe that they have got a good bead on all the myriad possible natural influences...can you imagine such hubris?

    To paraphrase Steve Schneider, climate science is a systems science. Understanding the climate is like understanding the human body, which is also a system. We know a lot about blood, and dna, and lipids, and antibodies, and neurotransmitters... but you will always be able to find something unknown. But that doesn't take away from the broad brushstrokes of what is known. For example, the inability to reverse engineer the vision system does not imply that we don't know that eyes are involved in vision.

    Climate science is on that footing, which is why pretty much every climate scientist /believes/ an AGW. There are mental health professionals who believe in demonic possession as a proportion.

    I have only a moderate amount of expertise in the direct matters, but I certainly know enough to recognise the thoroughness of climate scientists in general, and substance to their arguments. What is more telling about the "debate" is the vapidity of the arguments of "critics", and the fact that they keep flogging the same dead horses again and again. Their arguments sometimes have surface validity but rarely more. Even someone like Pat Michaels, certainly one of the most sophisticated critics, has nothing of substance that I have seen. Watch this congressional testimony [youtube.com] -- starts about 1:30min in.

  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @04:59AM (#42231975)

    Think of it this way:

    Humans cause global warming with CO2 and similar.
    a) Do nothing, climate gets worse, costs of a lot of money to adapt and repair damages.
    b) Change our energy sources and energy use, costs money to do up front, long term gains only.

    Humans do not cause global warming
    a) Do nothing, no upfront costs, no long term gains
    b) Change our energy sources and energy use, costs money to do up front, reduces pollution, extends life expectancy (due to reduced pollution), reduces dependence on foreign energy sources.

    In my opinion, even if humans have absolutely no impact on climate, I still want us to change our energy sources and energy use - the long term gains from doing so are very much worth it.

  • Re:Social Proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @10:26AM (#42233267) Journal

    No... there's a real measurable difference in modern R vs D. For example, 58% of R believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, while 41% of D feel that way. It's scary for both parties, but at least the rational majority in D get to set policies taking into account reality, while R makes a practice of selling scientifically proven false ideas to it's own people. R is not just ignorant about climate change. They're ignorant about evolution, and are continuing to push for it to be removed from our science classes. This level of "true conservative" group think is almost a new religion. Go look at who R puts on the House Science Committee. Good grief!

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