Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change

An interesting video on how it's easy not to understand the climate crisis -- and to improve one's understanding!  Worth watching Dr. Bickmore's whole presentation. The article is from Red, Green & Blue:

A Republican ex-climate skeptic explains how people avoid the truth about climate change
By Barry Bickmore
Professor of Geologic Sciences, Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University prof Barry Bickmore talks climate skepticism

I gave a talk called How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change for the College of Science and Health at Utah Valley University.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I am a Republican and a geochemist who, until a few years ago, was quite skeptical about the idea that humans are causing significant climate change.

In the presentation, I briefly talked about how I had made the transition from being a climate change skeptic to being an outspoken advocate of mainstream climate science.  I then discussed how it is that people like me can so effectively avoid the truth about climate change.

My sticking points
  • I thought there was lots of scientific controversy about human contributions
  • I thought climate projections are based solely on complex computer models of physical systems, which (I know from experience) are easy to screw up.
  • I know there is always uncertainty in science.

The Truth:

  • There is almost no scientific debate over whether humans are largely responsible for the temperature rise over the last 50 years or so.
  • There are other ways to estimate climate sensitivity (e.g. from paleoclimate data) that give about the same answer as the models.
  • The uncertainty is mostly on the high end, given the data we have now [e.g., it's not whether there will be warming, but how bad it will be].

How we avoid the truth:

  • We tend to believe what we want to hear
  • There are always truth-challenged individuals who will tell us what we want to hear to promote political goals
  • The media makes little or no effort to determine who is right
  • Most people (including many scientists) have naive ideas about the nature of science

Stay going.

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