Climate Change, Politics, and the Weather

Have you ever mentioned climate change to people and instead of responding with comments about ice core measurements, the latest GHG measurements, and ocean acidification rates they’ve responded with distinctly political comments on the free market system and plots by anti-American subversives?

For years, I naively wondered what politics had to do with climate. What connection I was missing? I could understand people’s concerns about Al Gore and his film. It’s dated and superficial. But when peer-reviewed journals started coming out with dozens and dozens of detailed studies on the topic of global warming, I thought those who brought up politics would change their minds. I thought they’d note that many of these studies were trying to find explanations other than those pointing to man’s activities.

From what I saw, scientists tested hypotheses on all sorts of alternate explanations. But at the end of these studies, the scientists typically ended up pointing to human-induced climate change because that’s what the data they collected indicated.

I actually assumed the non-science community at least GLANCED through the abstracts of peer-reviewed studies at least weekly. Yearly? At least knew what a peer-reviewed study was?

Uh, no. If I got any sort of supporting argument against climate change, it usually involved dubious or downright wrong information from some think-tank with political or industrial ties. In fact, I heard this sort of “argument” AFTER even the Bush administration admitted that climate change was a problem.

So I was wrong. I finally realized a major mistake.

Mistake #1: I assumed most people were rational, well read, and open-minded.

To be fair, some were. A couple gulped and stepped toward the factual side, but most dug in and denied even more mightily. So I finally learned that most people are NOT rational, well read, and open-minded.

They know not the 11th Commandment: Thou Shall Fact-check, Cross-reference, and Verify Thy Sources.

Verily, many could not, for they knew not that they knew not even the most basic concepts. For example, on days like today, many denied global warming by pointing outside to ice and snow and frigid temperatures. Often, I’ve blinked and said, “So?” (One of my favorite Dick Cheney lines, by the way.)

Mistake #2: I assumed everyone knew the difference between the climate and the weather.

Apparently, the difference has escaped many because today I found this article on the Voice of America website:

Meteorologists: Global Warming and Cold Weather Go Hand-In-Hand:

The World Meteorological Organization says cold weather does not mean that global warming has abated. WMO says people should not confuse weather with climate.

People in Europe are shivering, while people in North Asia and parts of Australia are sweltering. Scientists say these weather extremes are to be expected and neither phenomenon can be used as a case for or against global warming.

And now, I’m going back to reading Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. I’m only on page 28 and so far I’ve learned that I’m one of the few people in the world who admits screwing up regularly.

And, by doing so I’ve proven myself wrong yet again.

Mistake #3: I thought everyone made mistakes regularly, evaluated the reasons for the failures, and hoped to learn from them.

Considering all this, am I learning from my mistakes?

Oh well. Maybe Mistake #4 (of this series–my total is beyond count) will be that I’m wrong about America’s future. I sure hope so.



One Response to “Climate Change, Politics, and the Weather”

  1. Sybil Says:

    This week I’ve figured out that it is not socially acceptable to discuss the crashing economy or the rising climate volatility, but talking about demon possession is A-OK. Demon chat shows you’re a serious person, while rational arguments are uppity downers.

    Since my little introduction into the minds of normal demon-fearing folk I’ve started to look at the world around me in a new light. Instead of being hopeful like Cassandra was, I’ve started wondering who among them is batshit crazy. If not for Cassandra I’d feel like the world had been taken over by pod people.

    Maybe it already has.

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