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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: zalena
2006-06-19 02:21 pm (UTC)
There was an interesting interview with some science writer who spent some time in the arctic on the subject of global warming. He pointed out that journalism and science are at odds because journalism is about "balance" and giving both sides of an issues equal say, whereas science is supposed to be about verifiable results.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that on the subject of global warming (among other issues) science has been hijacked by politics. The earth's climate system is so complex that I believe both:

a)how could it not be impacted by people? We are part of the environment therefore it is impacted by us and vice versa, and

b) geological/atmospheric/environmental time is not measured in human life spans, so we are merely guessing what impact we are having on the planet, especially in the short term.

For me, the most compelling argument for global warming isn't weather disasters, it's ice core samples that suggest that the rate of warming is happening faster in earthtime than it has in the past.

But the scientific process is about creating hypothesis and then seeing if they stand up to questioning. A lot of what I'm reading with regard to global warming seems to be people trying to support their pet theories rather than allowing them to be questioned. The problem with global warming is that if the catastrophists are right, we won't survive.

I'm less interested whether or not humans are causing global warming (or whether or not there is global warming) than I am in being good stewards of the planet generally. This shouldn't be about "How much can we get away with without unleashing global disaster," but about looking for alternatives because things like oil are causing many problems in our own lifetimes, whether it's little kids with asthma in inner-city neighborhoods, or the political blood bath that's related to the fight over an unrenewable resource.

But as I type this, I'm also feeling full of shit. Even if I'm part of the supporting structure of the pyramid in my own country, I'm sitting on the top in a global perspective.
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[User Picture]From: helava
2006-06-27 06:33 pm (UTC)
I think that's the thing that bothers me the most about modern "journalism" - why is it that anyone thinks journalism is about "balance"? It's not supposed to be about balance - it's supposed to be about reporting *truth*. Which isn't necessarily balanced. Journalists aren't *supposed* to give equal time to a scientist, who's an expert on the subject, and a crony hired by some lobbying firm, who knows jack-all about the subject other than the PR line he's been fed by the company he's a shill for.
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