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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: tdjohnsn
2006-06-19 03:50 am (UTC)
I hate to step into this since studying this is what you do for a living (or at least part of it), but I tend to find the people who say "something is possibly happening, but the systems are so huge that we can only guess at whether the cause is anthropogenic or natural, though we suspect a combination, and by the way, that study really doesn't say what you keep saying it does" to be the most believable. Part of it is how so much of the "yes it is happening and it is all our fault" crowd black-ball anyone who even suggests that possible, maybe, there on line 1,049, the numbers don't add up to the approved conclusion, which seems like bad science (arn't you supposed to come up with better research or a cooler spreadsheet to prove your point rather than smearing and destroying peoples reputations?) And people who just poo-poo any suggestion of causation don't seem serious. I found the article at: http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ informative, though not being a climate scientist, I don't know if they are glossed over something important. They seem to be open to feedback and comment, so that is a point in their favor.

I could deffinately be convinced, but right now I don't trust the people doing the convincing (or the unconvincing.)
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2006-06-26 04:35 am (UTC)
Hey Troy! So, to follow up, now that I found time to read through some more articles:

Yes, I think the JunkScience guy is glossing over a couple important things. The biggest is that we have a number of different lines of evidence that strongly support the idea that increased CO2 is anthropogenic in nature: along with the timing and correlation with industrial activity, it also has the right isotope profile to be coming from fossil fuels, and it's got a geographic correlation between hemispheres that matches industrialization level. I think it's telling that he doesn't (as far as I can see) mention any of these things at all.

SkepDic is pretty harsh on the page: http://skepdic.com/refuge/junkscience.html

I think part of the problem is that many of the people who are most loudly trying to do convincing aren't scientists, but advocates with an agenda, and you're right, they're not especially trustworthy. (Despite saying "let me change your mind", my personal agenda here is more about understanding how non-scientists understand and interpret science, and how they change their minds about it, than it is to actually change your mind about this subject in particular...)
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