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Global Warming skeptics

OK, I just found this out!  Apparently the same scientists who spoke strongly against the USA controlling tobacco sales and suing the manufactures are the same scientists who are speaking out against global warming! They have their (slightly crazy) reasons, but their strategy is to raise doubt about the scientific results from other people.  What is so brazen about this, is that none of them were experts on lung and other cancers, and none of them are experts in the areas of atmospheric pollution or global warming.  Yet, as respected scientists in their own areas, they get the press and the publicity.  How crazy can you get  – except it has worked with tobacco and is still working with global warming. This is where I got my new information from:

Merchants of Doubt

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. ISBN 978-1-59691-610-4

USA polls show that between one-third and one-half of Americans still believe that there is “no solid” evidence of global warming, or that if warming is happening it can be attributed to natural variability. Others believe that scientists are still debating the point. Join scientist and renowned historian Naomi Oreskes as she describes her investigation into the reasons for such widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of scientific consensus and probes the history of organized campaigns designed to create public doubt and confusion about science. Series: “Perspectives on Ocean Science” [12/2007] [Science] [Show ID: 13459]


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“A well-documented, pulls-no-punches account of how science works and how political motives can hijack the process by which scientific information is disseminated to the public.”—Kirkus Reviews

It is surprising that there are still many people out there who believe that humans have nothing to worry about when it comes to the issue of global warming.  I suppose it just reflects the human ability to live with dissonance  – our ability to hold two totally conflicting thoughts/beliefs in our heads!  While anyone who really researches global warming the evidence is indisputable  – the planet is heating up, more than it has for probably 125,000 years and one of the reasons it is heating up so quickly is that we are putting more carbon dioxide into the air than the natural balancing systems can handle.  Simple as that.  Obviously it is a collossal problem and hard to quantify in terms of how much or little harm it will do the planet and our biodiversity.

There are some extremely selfish and dominator types of people out there who have decided that it is in their own selfish short-term interests to throw as much doubt as possible on the idea of climate change and the human responsibility to do something about it  – whatever is within our power to do.  They have calculated that they are rich enough to protect their own family or clan from the worst of global warming, and they must work as hard as they can to get even richer, to further protect their own.   Nice,eh!   What about the rest of us?

Guy Dauncey, in his book The Climate Challenge devotes a section to “How to Talk to a Climate Denier”.  You can read it here: http://www.earthfuture.com/theclimatechallenge/downloads/Pages26_27.pdf

There are some great websites recommended by Guy, including:

Climate Change: a Guide for the Perplexed (New Scientist): www.tinyurl.com/3bl5e6

This is a superb site, naming names, so we at least know who some of the people are who profit from denying climate change, even though they know it is inevitable if we continue with business as usual. “Climate cover-up: the Crusade to Deny Global Warming”  by James Hoggan. www.desmogblog.com/climate-cover-up

How to talk to a climate skeptic at GristMill

NASA/GISS has a temperature animation:

How to talk to a climate skeptic. A thoughtful piece by Andrew Gaines:

People change themselves, if they change at all. Asking pertinent questions can stimulate people to do the thinking that may lead to a new assessment of the situation.

My Transform Australia colleague Ian C frequently talks to doubters and skeptics.  He starts by finding out precisely what they are skeptical about.

What part of the climate change model, if any, do you accept?

Which specific parts do you doubt or deny?

Are there important planetary changes other than climate change going on?

At some point they will reach a question that they cannot answer.

This occurred in a conversation I had with the CEO of a major charity. He expressed some doubt about climate change, based on information he had heard recently in the news.  Instead of giving ‘counter information’, I asked him how he could solve the dilemma for himself. He said that he did not know.

At this point his mind was open.  I commented that I thought climate change was very real, and the reason was because I had read books by Australian scientists such as Barry Pittock that go into the science in detail. I indicated what some of these books are.

At the end, he was appreciative.  I did not try to lay a trip on him. I respected his autonomy, and shared my point of view. However, this person was not a skeptic, in the sense of having a fixed position. He was simply in a state of doubt, based on confusion.

Some years ago, my own views about species extinction were challenged by a good friend, and I went into a deep process of internal reassessment. My friend gave me several articles and a book. In response I let myself go into confusion for about a week – not a comfortable place to be in.  If my friend was right, then much of my current worldview was mistaken. This would have been good news; it meant that I could relax and get on with enjoying life without worrying about the big picture. But was he right?

I went to the library and got out Richard Leakey’s The Fifth Extinction and other relevant books.  On review, the scientific case for extinction seemed solid, thus (regretfully) confirming my original views.

We live in one physical reality, although we may have many different interpretations as to how it works.  The question for all of us, whether we are skeptics or passionate climate change activists, is: do we base our views on a thoughtful consideration of the real-world facts, as best we can ascertain them, or do we create opinions based on our emotional responses, and hold them as the truth?



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