Climate Change for Idiots

[Originally posted at: Crooks And Liars]

On September 11, 2001, our world changed forever.

And not just because of the obvious. For three days after the attack on the World Trade Center, all commercial aviation came to a standstill in the United States. For the first time since 1914, when Tony Jannus piloted a wooden, open-air Benoist XIV biplane in the first commercial passenger-carrying airline flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida, traffic in the friendly skies above the amber waves of grain came to a screeching halt. And in those three crucial days, our entire understanding of global warming underwent a fundamental transformation.

But this literally earth-shattering revelation has not been getting a lot of press since that horrible day. Public interest in climate change is dwindling into either resigned apathy, or growing skepticism about the risks of global warming; a 14 percent decline in people who believe the earth is becoming warmer. At the current conference in Copenhagen, the emphasis has shifted away from what the hell are we going to do to save the planet before it’s too late to world leaders bickering and squabbling in an unseemly power struggle over who gets to pollute the most. And while the talks are failing as politicians shuffle carbon credits around like magicians with a deck of cards, global warming deniers are busily promulgating ever more heated and bizarre conspiracy theories.

Climate change is a hoax, they’re shouting from their soap boxes. Agenda 21 is just a smoke screen designed to enslave the Third World, and global warming is fraud, a steekin’ fraud, I tells ya, run by the Illuminati and the Rothschild dynasty and aliens from Alpha Centuri in a vast conspiracy with Big Business and Pharma and corrupt politicians to control the world’s resources in a scam for world domination! Global warming is a natural phenomenon, they’re insisting, 30,000 scientists have iron-clad proof (and leaked emails) that it’s all been propaganda designed to frighten us. CO2 is caused by tectonic plate shift, or the earth’s axis tilting, or sun spots, or Urban Heat Island effects, or water vapor, or cows farting. (Actually, the last one does have some validity; livestock ‘byproducts’ account for 32.6 billion tons of CO2 per year, or 51% of annual global GHG emissions.) It’s a natural cycle – we went through a Little Ice Age in the Holocene then global warming in the Middle Ages (actually, we didn’t), and volcanoes spew out more CO2 than humans do (again, uh-uh, human activity releases more than 130 times more CO2 than all our current active volcanoes combined). Anyway, modeling the environment is too vast, too vague, too complicated, not even scientists can agree with one another; we just aren’t capable of adequately simulating the atmosphere or understanding climate change.

Besides, why should we care how much we pollute the planet, since India and China don’t give a damn…?

So… a bit of Climate Change for Idiots to aid those of us who feel like we’re beating heads against the wall arguing with friends and relatives frantically denying The End is Nigh, all while driving their SUVs through the nearest McDonald’s drive-in, those poor benighted souls too obtuse to realize the causes of global warming are myriad, and that while – yes, they are correct, Big Biz and First World greed are busily maneuvering and dodging and scheming over who gets to profit the most from climate change – that doesn’t mean it’s not real. We’re too focused on the looters to realize that the city is burning down around us.

[Read the rest of this post at: Crooks And Liars]

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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4 Responses to Climate Change for Idiots

  1. writerdood says:

    It is unfortunate, but it’s still not enough. It’s become a matter of faith to believe in climate change or not. You must understand, if people don’t understand the science, or they don’t agree with the science (or the science is simply muddied by contrary results) then people can’t make their decision based on science. And, if they can’t do that, then they have to make a decision based on what they want to believe – and that (in my definition) is faith – the believe in something that you can’t prove.

    I think in percentages, myself, but I’ve recently come to the conclusions that other people don’t. To me, saying that there’s a good 80% chance that global warming is real, and a good 80% chance that the “global warming is a scam” crowd is full of shit – that’s enough. But for a lot of other people the world needs to be a black and white place.

    Bottom line – we need to reduce the greenhouse emissions. The only question is how to convince other people that that’s a good idea.

    Keep beating your head against the wall. I don’t see that you’ve got any other choice. Good luck.

    • Jeff Randall says:

      I’d have to disagree that it’s a matter of faith.

      Yes some people don’t understand the science. Some people don’t understand gravity, is it faith for them to accept that it’s real?

      Yes some people don’t agree with the science. Some people don’t agree with evolution, that doesn’t mean those who do accept evolution do so on faith.

      If people don’t know enough to accept that climate change is real (that much is 100% certain) and that it’s probably based on humanity (that much is 80-90% certain) then it’s their job to learn more. But that does not mean that those who understand it are taking it on faith.

  2. writerdood says:

    Yes some people don’t understand the science. Some people don’t understand gravity, is it faith for them to accept that it’s real?

    It depends on how you define faith. For me, yes, that’s the definition of faith. If you don’t understand it, but you believe in it, then that’s faith. Gravity is something you can experience first hand. That doesn’t fit the definition.

    As for evolution, that’s a nice example. I would have to say that the preponderance of evidence makes “belief” in evolution very easy, but I don’t have to try very hard to understand the fossil record, and I’ve studied cellular biology. So it’s sort of hard for me to say I’m taking evolution on faith. However, for other people who don’t understand it, haven’t looked at the fossil record, and aren’t interested in biology, believing in evolution would be done on faith – faith (aka belief) that someone else is telling them the truth.

    This is how I define faith. It is belief in something for which you (yourself) have no proof or evidence. That doesn’t mean the proof isn’t there, it means you haven’t put forth effort to understand it. Instead, you just believe what someone else says. And, if you are just believing what someone else says, then you are taking their word on faith. (Which I always advise against doing).

    • Jeff Randall says:

      See the problem I have there is that there is not enough time to become an expert on every subject.
      I understand some of the basics of how a plane flies, but not enough that I KNOW how it works.
      I understand some of the basics of the internal combustion engine, but I could not fix my car if it broke down(unless it’s something real simple).
      I understand SOME of a lot of things that I take for granted that they just work.

      In these cases and countless others, people should be able to rely on the consensus of scientific option on a subject and BELIEVE that something is true (or at least as true as the evidence currently tells us) and not have to learn the information ourselves. And I would not call this type of belief “faith”. The information is there. We KNOW the information is there. We just have chosen to rely on others to look into it on our behalf, because there is no treason to learn it ourselves.

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