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Stop treating us like children over the Global Warming science

March 19, 2011

Stop treating us like children over the Global Warming science

If I have one plea to the media, the politicians and the learned professional who are running the debate over AWG it is to stop treating everyone else like they are uneducated children.

 

There is a perception in my mind that the speed of the debate and how it was presented is not helping anyone understand the science that is involved. Instead we are being presented with loaded language that presumes a position before any evidence is presented. How is it that the debate over global warming is rarely about the scientific evidence but more about the tribal loyalties or those who speak? We have terms thrown about that are designed to trigger emotions such as “denialist” and “warmist“. Both terms do no one any favours because both terms have negative connotations that are no different than calling someone a “tree hugger” or a “planet killer“. It is reminiscent of loaded terms such as “progressive” and “reactionary” or “liberal” and “conservative”. It may be emotionally satisfying to use such terms in an essay but they betray an unwillingness to even acknowledge that alternative viewpoints should even be considered. Articles laced with such language undermine their own scientific and rational credibility. In essence a scientific subject is being so polluted with emotional triggers that the ability of the reader to dispassionately and accurately decipher important information is severely hampered. Where is the clarity that we all deserve? Lost, I am afraid, in a sea of straw men, weasel words and ad hominem attacks.

 

Another major failing of the Global Warming debate is the how quickly the name of science is invoked as a conversation stopper. We often hear a politician use the phrase: “I believe the ‘science‘ on global warming,” or the more evasive version; “I believe what ‘the scientists’ are telling me about global warming.” In the first case science is used as an abstract without any reference and in the second case it begs the question of who those scientists are and what they are actually saying. In both cases we are being given a declaration of belief and an absence of any scientific evidence. And in science evidence is paramount.

 

We should take this question of evidence based science even further and demand more of it. Appeals to heart rather than the head are of no assistance to a person trying to make life changing decisions based upon which scientist a politician chooses to believe. The authority and standing of the scientist may be very impressive but it is inconsequential to the accuracy of evidence that they present. Or as Carl Sagan listed in his baloney testing kit: item #3 “Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no “authorities”).

 

So far all I have done is highlight the problems with the reporting of publicity campaigns surrounding the AWG debate. The reality of modern media savvy politics is that short sound bites are often utilized to pass on the message in an easily quotable manner. It is hardly an environment where complicated scientific debate is given much of chance. However if we are meant to have any confidence that any controversial policy is being implemented for rational reasons we really need to subject all claims to the hard light of public scrutiny. Handing the debate over to hard core activists, career driven politicians and cherry picked experts is contemptuous of those who are looking for honest answers.

 

What we really require is a proper debate based upon all the available evidence. Sure there are some people who claim that the science has been settled and that we should move on, but I am yet to see that winning shred of evidence. Perhaps I missed it. Or perhaps the evidence is such that it only convinces the already convinced.

 

My request is simple enough. Present all the evidence that props up the claim that Global warm is manmade and is causing a catastrophe, then subject the evidence to criticism. If the science is iron clad then it should easily pass the test. If the science is not settled then we will see each claim evaporate. Either way at least we will all be better informed and perhaps more amiable to whatever future challenges we must all face.

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