I took the time today to post a comment on a science blog entry about bad arguments and global warming. Here’s what I wrote:
In our local newspaper we once had someone say write a letter to the editor which basically said ‘Enough with the global warming already, didn’t you notice it’s COLD OUTSIDE?’ If most people cannot distinguish between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’, much less understand the diverse effects of climate change, how are we to manage to have serious discussions of this among the general public?
The United States has developed into a culture where people are polarized, and all new information and expressions of viewpoints are first evaluated by seeing where they come from, then dismissing them and ridiculing them on the basis of their source. Before we can hope to accomplish CLIMATE change, we need to figure out how to accomplish CULTURE change and do something about the appalling lack of critical thinking and the general unwillingness to examine evidence and discuss issues in a serious, well-informed, intelligent and calm manner.
While global warming is an important issue, the underlying issue that we argue in a lawyer-like fashion, attempting to get our opinions off the hook rather than genuinely investigate evidence regardless of where it may lead us, is in many respects more troubling.
Those interested in the broader subject of global warming and the environment may find the series How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic interesting.