Sunday, December 06, 2009

Overwhelming Evidence

Phil Plait:
This has become so politicized it’s hard to know what’s right and what’s wrong. I personally would be thrilled to find out the Earth isn’t warming up. I’d like my daughter to grow up on a planet that isn’t on the fast track to environmental disaster. But I have no stake in the claim scientifically either way; I don’t cling to AGW because of political bent or any ideology. I think global warming is real because of the overwhelming evidence pointing that way.

I’ll note that some people are still upset by my use of the term deniers. Again, to be clear: a skeptic is someone who uses evidence and logic to reach a conclusion. A denialist is someone who will say or do anything to deny an issue. I stand by my definition. There are actual global warming skeptics out there — and I would not only support their efforts but praise them — but what I see on the web and in the comments overwhelmingly is denial, not skepticism.
(Emphasis in the original)

I also like this point.
In conclusion: I called this a non-event because it has no real impact on global warming science or our understanding of it. Of course it has a huge impact, politically. But that’s because the ideologues out there have seized on this and made as much noise as they can, so in that sense it is an issue — an issue of how political science has become, how easy it is to disrupt the process, and the effect this has had on the scientists themselves. This issue won’t go away any time soon, but we need to focus on the signal, not the noise.
We can be irritated to hell by the misunderstandings and willful ignorance and distortions. But public perception of science is still a real issue - and an important one to work on. I work in educational science media production, ie. scientific outreach, which is the same process as will be needed to confront nonsense like this, just shifted a little bit away from the insanity end of the scale. We may roll our eyes at this silliness, but it's still part of the overall goal of informing the public about what science is, why it is done, and why its conclusions are relevant.

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