The Audacity of Facts: If God Told Scientists to Warn Us of Climate Change, Would Skeptics Listen?


This will probably be my last soap box post for a while, but I couldn’t help myself. The title came to me last week and I have been sitting on it since. The body of the post is coming to me as I write (so much for background research). I think what sent me over the edge was the article I found and posted earlier this week about the continuous lies spewed on Fox News. This time, it’s about climate change. Many people watch Fox News (religiously). This is their major source of information and don’t fact check the 24 hour news channel.

I remember my first conversation with a climate change skeptic; dinner in Boston in 2008 at the ASM General Meeting. It was a friend of my boss from Omaha (not a scientist). There was nothing we could say that he would even consider as fact. As insiders (scientists), we tried to detail to him that the data are very clear and there is a virtual consensus among scientists that climate change is 1) occurring and 2) accelerated by man made actions. Needless to say, our blood was boiling. What would it take for someone to listen to facts?

Here it is four years later and we still have skeptics; for many reasons. They hold on to different flavors of skeptic Kool Aid; there isn’t even consensus among scientists, Climategate exposed the conspiracy behind climate change, the models are wrong or manipulated.

Over the past two decades, all published, peer-reviewed articles addressing climate, greater than 95% have stated both that climate change is occurring or about the affects the industrial revolution has had on climate.

Climategate some years ago leaked 5000 documents, mostly emails, between climatologists prior to an IPCC meeting. The leaked docs were filtered to skew the message and try to bias public opinion before the meeting. Several international advisory committees exonerated the authors of the documents from any wrong doing and stated no manipulation of data had occurred.

Models are just that…models. They are computer generated taking the most current data into account. The models are getting better, but even 20 year old models are showing to be accurate. The first IPCC meeting in 1990 released a model of average global temperatures through 2030. From an article by Ars Technica taken from a report in Nature Climate Change:

The most frequently cited projection estimates 0.7–1.5°C of warming between 1990 and 2030, which means we would see an increase of about 0.35 – 0.75 °C through 2010. (The range of values is a product of uncertainty about the exact sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gases.) The observed temperature trend through 2010 is about 0.35–0.39°C, depending on the dataset.

Spot on.

So, what will it take for skeptics to accept data as fact instead of propaganda from tree huggers? God, I wish I knew…