OPINION: Thinking about Global Warming 2

By Bruce Evans

Bruce Evans Ph.D.

If the weather is too hot, we can blame it on global warming.

If it is too cold, we can do the same.

If there are too many hurricanes, global warming is at fault.

If there are fewer than normal, global warming.

What (and how) are we supposed to think?

Anthony Watts, a meteoroligist, said, “There is significant evidence that would tend to falsify global warming.”

Watts’ post is in response to a letter signed by several geologists, who said “We concur with the vast consensus of the science community that recent global warming is very real.”

So what are we supposed to do in the face of such vehemently opposed viewpoints on potentially earth-changing topics? We have several choices.

First, one can always play the role of ostrich with one’s head in the sand.

“I don’t really concern myself with issues that I can’t do anything about.”

It’s a nice easy solution but a total cop-out that doesn’t help anybody.

Another strategy is simply to grab on to the consensus and hang on.

“If an overwhelming majority of scientists believes global warming to be occurring and that it is anthropogenic in nature, then it must be true. After all, they are the experts!”

Maybe so, but being an expert does not guarantee that you are right.

You could, of course, take the time to read the original research articles, books, blogs, etc. to gain a thorough knowledge of the subject and then form your opinion, which is probably the best way to come close to the truth on the subject.

Well, how much time do you have? Sounds like a good idea, but it sure does eat up the time. And you may not have enough background knowledge to understand what you are reading in the first place.

I once had the opportunity to speak with Alan Guth, an MIT physicist who is a major proponent of inflation (a concept in physics that suggests why the universe is the way it is).

I understand inflationary theory in its basic iteration but asked Guth, “How am I as a biologist supposed to determine the credibility of inflation theory when I don’t understand the mathematical and theoretical underpinnings of the argument?”

His answer? “I have no idea.” Hmmm . . . Yeah, that helps.

What is the best way to assess theories and ideas like global warming? Maybe we should humble ourselves and admit that we may never know the answer while we dwell on this planet.

For those topics that we take the time to be well informed about we can then form a reasoned opinion of what we think is true. But be careful. You could be wrong. But at least you have a reasoned argument.

A little humility and respect for others’ opinions can go a long way.

Bruce Evans, Ph.D., is professor of biology. He can be reached at bevans@huntington.edu. This column reflects the views of the writer only.

2 thoughts on “OPINION: Thinking about Global Warming

  1. Reply Jeff May 16,2013 2:39 pm

    There really isn’t a difference of opinion on global climate change. Scientists have reached a near consensus opinion that climate change is real, and that human actions are making a significant contribution. Anthony Watts doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree–he’s a media figure who’s being funded by the Heartland Institute and its backers, who happen to be billionaire investors who have an interest in maintaining the current industrial status quo. This recent piece in the Huffington Post provides yet another survey of the scientific consensus, of which there are many.


  2. Reply Kris Burgess May 31,2013 11:37 am

    I concur with Jeff, how does a meteorologist qualify as any sort of expert on the subject of global warming?

    One who watches the news weather segments, nationwide, or watches the weather channel, with any sort of regularity, must know that these persons are not even close to being right about predictions half of the time. With that said, why would anyone want to buy what any meteorologist says, especially if the meteorologist is speaking to a subject which the meteorologist is far from an expert in.

    I think everyone can agree that mankind has taken a large defecation on planet earth with industrial revolutions, innovation, and yada yada yada. If one denies this, the same person might as well be denying the Holocaust. Even if global warming is a complete farce, what is so wrong with working towards bettering planet earth, the planet that God so graciously gave mankind to care after? The answer is “nothing.” Nothing is wrong with caring for the planet that we as humans have the privilege to live on. Therefore, if someone has theories for why they want to clean up the planet or stop pollution, I am not as concerned about the theories as I am about the action resulting.

    General logic would show that those not concerned with global warming or who adamantly deny climate change probably could give two cares about the environment. How is this okay?

    I’ll take an incorrect pro-global-warming sympathizer who takes action to protect planet over an overpaid meteorologist any day of the week.

    All this to say, I think that the arrival at the statement “A little humility and respect for others’ opinions can go a long way,” works both ways.

    I will respect the opinion of anyone, as long as the person’s actions do not reflect reckless disregard for God’s creation. Not meaning this in an accusatory sense, but I would like to know this Anthony Watts’s contributions to the improving the condition of planet earth.

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