The argument that our earth’s climate is changing, and that this is due to our human activity, has been a point of discussion for many, many years.
Over time the strength of argument has grown, with more studies and more verification. There is a strong consensus of the scientific community that anthropogenic (human influenced) global warming is occurring, and that we need to sharply reduce our carbon emissions to limit the change to our climate that has been set into motion.
Sadly, scientists (with notable exceptions of characters such as Brian Cox and Robert Winston), have a poor track record at engaging with the general public, and explaining science. The job is often left to the media, whose job is to entertain as well as to inform.
Notable scandals and controversies, such as “climategate” undermine this consensus in the eye of the public. This is seized to political advantage, and climate change is presented as the need to change the way we change we think about our energy consumption as an unnecessary tax. A con.
If you investigate the University of East Anglia emails for yourself (Go on… I’ve linked it), you might be surprised to find there is nothing in fact to the hype of the media regarding the scandal. Of course, most of us do not have time to investigate these things for ourselves, and rely on the media to inform of us of current affairs. This is where the seeds of doubt are presented in our minds and why the climate change argument keeps re-emerging; consensus is boring. People don’t want to read about it.
This is a very difficult PR problem for the scientific community to overcome. We, as a community, need to be able to convey our research across more effectively.
If you are a climate skeptic, I would encourage you to look at the reports of the IPCC if you wish to delve into the science, and to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth even if you are not. These set out the case for anthropogenic climate change a lot better than I ever could. Be wary also of the anti-climate science used to dispute these findings. Some are perfectly reputable studies, discovered by the media and use out of context to report something the scientist did not intend to be understood. Others are based on cherry picking evidence (case in point, the “Climategate” emails). Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science is an excellent resource to arm yourself against disputable techniques used in the anti-climate science camp, and indeed in all aspects of science.
That’s enough for this post. This is a big topic and one that could never be adequately addressed in a few paragraphs, but hopefully there’s enough food for thought there to go out and investigate if you find yourself doubting climate change because of what you have read in the media.