Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Scientists are not religious fanatics
We received an unprecedented 10 inches of snow yesterday, and it looks like it is going to stay around for at least a few days. This is not the normal M.O. for this region’s weather. It isn’t surprising therefore that it has caused a lot of talk among the locals. Most of the comments were a long the lines of, “Can you believe it?” or “How crazy!” There was one comment however, that made me shake my head in disbelief.
“No global warming here, thank you very much Al Gore! We have more than a foot of snow here. It's beautiful!”
What is it about the average American, who given a little bit of knowledge, think they know more than experts—like a guy who enjoys tinkering about cars arguing with a fully trained mechanic about something he really doesn’t understand. This woman I am sure was thinking, “Those crazy liberals and environmentalists talking about global warming! I have lived here for 20 odd years and have never seen a winter as colds as this one. It is plain as the nose on my face that we are not experiencing a warming trend.”
This comment is the result of a poorly constructed logic proof.
Point 1: Global warming is just what it sounds like. The globe is warming.
Point 2: This means that every point on the globe is slowly warming.
Point 3: If Region X is warming, we would experience warmer, longer summers and shorter, milder winters.
Point 4: This winter has been colder than average, and we have also just received a record snowfall.
Point 5: Global warming must be false.
This is the type of conclusions people (and I dare say educated people) come to given rudimentary knowledge on a certain subject. However, the conclusion is false. The logic breaks down in Points 2 and 3. As I have explored this subject to a small degree in my master’s thesis, in addition to reading multiple papers and listening to hundreds of scientific talks on the matter, I feel someone qualified in stating that the crazy weather we have been having is a perfect example of global warming or (to use less confusing terminology) climate change.
While there IS a gradual warming of the globe, this warming is AVERAGED over time. On average your summers will be warmer and longer and on average your winters will be shorter and milder. Climate change also means more variability in weather patterns and an increase in EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS. Some places may even be cooler and wetter than in the historic past.
The thing is--anyone who knows anything about climate change understands this. So why does the general public still talk about climate change as being a theory or something apocalyptical that environmentalists say in order to scare people in to believing their crunchy communist crackpot beliefs. It's like they think that environmentalists are akin to some sort of fundamentalist religious group who goes around saying the world is going to end in five years and so you better get baptized right now OR ELSE.
So my question to you is: Why don’t people listen to and believe the experts? I simply don’t understand it. I DO know that I would think much more highly of people if they actually did so.