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Human climate disruption [Jun. 18th, 2006|09:27 pm]
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Update post coming soon, but first:

I read this annoying editorial in the newspaper this morning about global warming (which I'm going to refer to as "human climate disruption" instead, because calling it "global warming" misleads the discussion). Actually, I only read about half of it, because as I said, it was annoying.

I was pondering a counter-letter to the editor, but then I realized that it was unlikely to do any good if I didn't address the issues in contention. If you're going to try and change somebody's mind with new information, you have to figure out what information would actually matter, or all you're going to do is add heat to the disagreement.

And so, a quiz:

So, whaddaya think about anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change?

A) It's totally happening
B) A lot of people say it's true, but I'm not convinced
C) I hear arguments for and against, and I'm not sure what to think
D) I think it's some kind of hoax
E) Other

If you answered anything other than A, I'd like to try and change your mind, so leave a comment explaning why (generally speaking) you don't find the idea persuasive.

I was thinking that I'd write a short explanation of the physics involved, because it's actually pretty straightforward. But I want to know whether that's actually where the disagreement arises...

[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2006-06-19 03:47 am (UTC)
Can I offer some advice?

I think you really need to take a clue from the evolution wars in this particular issue, and actually not just give the current scientific consensus, but some discussion of how it came about. If nothing else, this forces you to question some of the basis for your understanding of the topic (which is entirely for the good, since you'll then understand it much better).

With evolution, I have the best success starting from historical study of morphology, moving to talking about selection, taking a detour through sequence analysis, and then talking about comparative genomics. I don't know nearly enough about climate change to figure out what the analogous thing is there, but maybe you do.

And, of course, try to find common ground with your opponents. Not on the science, of course, but on learning why they're not willing to believe it. I'm still really happy with this post.
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