Thursday, February 5, 2015

Emotions Rule Climate Debate?

I saw an article today, Emotions, not science, rule U.S. climate change debate: study.
If you're at all familiar with the ongoing debate you probably don't need to read any further than that. Yes, it is all about emotions. Science has most certainly taken a back seat on this issue. Hell, science is on the side of the road trying to hitch a ride. Rejecting science is the rule of the day.

You know how you can tell this is true? Just ask someone what they think of Al Gore. WARNING: Don't stand too close when you do. Al Gore is not a scientist and his stand on climate change is irrelevant. What is important is what the science says. But, try convincing a denier. It is amazing to see how quickly they will froth at the mouth (sometimes literally and I'm not exaggerating) at the mere mention of the man.

Why is that? Really. Why do deniers go crazy when you mention Al Gore? Why do they hate him so much? Is it because of his movie? Is it because he won the Nobel Prize? I don't think so. That doesn't make sense. In fact, the whole thing doesn't make sense. Like I said, Gore is not a scientist and he is irrelevant to the question about AGW being real or not. But, I don't think there is a single topic that gets a stronger reaction than Al Gore. I wish I could tell you how many people have told me AGW isn't real because Al Gore ...... (fill in your sin/crime of choice). The fact is, there have been so many I can't tell you how many there have been. The worst part? These people really do think it proves AGW isn't real. Al Gore has become the focus of everything they want to vent about when it comes to climate change.

So, how do we get past this and address the problem? I don't really know and I don't think the authors of the paper do either. Here is what they say:
"Strategies for building support for (climate) mitigation policies should go beyond attempts to improve the public's understanding of science," Ana-Maria Bliuc, a professor at Australia's Monash University who co-wrote the study, said in a statement.
So, the science isn't the issue. I'll agree with that. The science is conclusive and anyone that believes AGW isn't real is simply rejecting science. There is nothing you can do to convince them the science is real. Read some of the submissions to my global warming challenge. I had people state any science that disagrees with them must be rejected. No amount of science will convince those people they are wrong. Consequently, you have to find another way to get through to them. What could that way be?

Then, they say,
Instead, scientists who want action on global warming should try to change the relationship between believers and deniers, said Bliuc, a social and political psychologist.
This sounds a little simplistic. Yes, the relationship needs to change. Any suggestions? Unfortunately, they also say,

Both groups generally agree that climate change is real, according to the study based on an Internet survey of U.S. residents. But the two camps differ on whether human activity is causing warming.
I can say from my own personal experience, this is not a true statement. I have met few deniers that say global warming and climate change are real. In fact, most of the deniers I have met insist it is not happening and any statement about 'the climate has always changed' is meant to divert the conversation. It is their way of avoiding the question. The truth is, based on my experience, most people saying that do not believe the climate is changing, naturally or otherwise.

But, the authors do say something that of merit,
In the United States, the two camps are divided largely along political party lines. More than 70 percent of Democrats say the earth is warming mainly because of human activities such as burning fossil fuels, according to polling data released by the Pew Research Center in January.

In contrast, among Republicans just 27 percent hold this view; more than 40 percent say there is no solid evidence that the planet is getting hotter, and 30 percent say climate change is due mostly to natural environmental patterns.
Ah, there we go. No, we do not need to convince the public, we need to convince the Republicans. That is what it all boils down to. We need to get the Republican leaders on board if we want to address this problem (Disclaimer: I am a devoted, life-long independent and do not belong to any political party). There is some indication of progress on this front. However, I do not believe the problem is going away anytime soon. Republican leaders are ensconced in the the position that AGW is not real and they will not do anything to address it.

In conclusion, I do not agree with the authors of the paper. I do not see how it is possible to convince the deniers to take action and I do not see any way the relationship can be changed. As long as they are attacking climate scientists and engaging in character assassination, there will be no civil discourse. The best I can hope for is to educate anyone that has not made up their minds, yet.

Not a very hopeful assessment, but I think it is realistic. I would be interested in hearing any suggestions, though.


  1. Not to mention the old multi-year ice is not even showing a short-term recovery.

  2. That is a very good point. Thanks for mentioning it.