Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Don't Believe In Global Warming

On the day I planned to write the title post in my little series, fate has delivered me the most marvelous gift, courtesy of that hotbed of anti-Americanism, The World Bank (.pdf):
Uncertainties remain in projecting the extent of both climate change and its impacts. We take a risk-based approach in which risk is defined as impact multiplied by probability: an event with low probability can still pose a high risk if it implies serious consequences.  No nation will be immune to the impacts of climate change. However, the distribution of impacts is likely to be inherently unequal and tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions, which have the least economic, institutional, scientific, and technical capacity to cope and adapt.
A world in which warming reaches 4°C above preindustrial levels (hereafter referred to as a 4°C world), would be one of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on human systems, ecosystems, and associated services. Warming of 4°C can still be avoided: numerous studies show that there are technically and economically feasible emissions pathways to hold warming likely below 2°C. Thus the level of impacts that developing countries and the rest of the world experience will be a result of government, private sector, and civil society decisions and choices, including, unfortunately, inaction.
The report itself isn't terribly long, at less than 100 pages of text.

Now, I am quite sure there are some folks out there who wonder why I'm entitling this post and series "I Don't Believe In Global Warming" if I quote a report on global warming.

The answer is simple: That global warming is happening, and happening because of human activity, is not subject to "belief", however that particular word is understood.  I do not "subscribe" to the "belief" that the earth is getting warmer.  It is getting warmer.  I do not "believe" that human action, specifically the burning of billions of tons of fossil fuels, has ejected more and more CO2 to the atmosphere.  I can see for myself:
 Whether it's evolution or climate science or particle physics or heat exchange in chemistry, I neither believe nor disbelieve in any of these things.  Precisely because, however one defines the word "belief", or describe the human activity of "believing", to say one "believes" in any particular scientific theory already demonstrates an ignorance about what science is and how it works.
To those who might insist I've never ever said anything about science before, just check it out for yourself. I have defined, repeated that definition, given examples, talked about what isn't science - many, many times over the six years I've been writing here.  If you missed it, or don't know how easy it is to find out what I've talked about numerous times, at the very least I've provided a handy link here for you to check it out for yourself.

I don't believe in global warming for the same reason I don't believe World War II ended on May 8, 1945.  I don't believe my daughter was born on June 7, 2001.  I don't believe that elementary particles behave both as particles and as wave functions.  I don't believe any of these things because "belief", however one chooses to define that word, just doesn't enter in to it.  At all.  Ever.

I don't believe in global warming because I accept the scientific evidence.  That isn't a matter either of belief or common sense.  It is, rather, a matter of knowing how science works.  Those people who insist otherwise demonstrate by that very insistence they have no idea what they're talking about.

For far too long, time and energy has been wasted trying to tell people who are either too ignorant to know better, or know perfectly well what they're doing and don't care, how wrong they are.  It is far better to continue to discuss these topics without reference to creationists, global warming deniers, and any other person or group who is little more than contemporary alchemists and astrologers.  Call them out for who and what they are, then just carry on, letting them have their hissy fits and tantrums while folks who understand, at the very least, what a strange, complicated world we live in and, for all its flaws, the only way to make sense of that world is scientific understanding.

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