There is a hot debate on climate change, but there needs to be more honesty from both sides.
In the global warming bandwagon, it’s been presented as an either/or proposition: If you believe in man-made climate change, then you’ll obviously believe everything proposed by Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But what if you’re not convinced that man is causing massive climate change?
Are you an “anti-science” luddite that’s in the pocket of Big Oil and anti-environmentalists who just wants to put a few more dollars in your wallet — or in the case of industrial wind developers, a few hundred million in it?
And what about the climate scientists themselves? Are they infallible, unbiased paragons of scientific truth or are some of them driven by ego, ideology or money to present flawed conclusions that support their own cause?
For example, much has been made of emails and other documents hacked from a British University and released at Climategate.com. Those indicate that some scientists may have manipulated data, suppressed contradictory research and otherwise acted unethically.
How much of this is tampering with the science to support political aims?
Who gets funded grants and who doesn’t could depend on your position on controversial issues such as man-made climate change or nuclear power. And if you get the money, you don’t want to upset the source of your livelihood.
Al Gore said during the March 24 debate between Democratic presidential candidates, “The science is incredibly complicated but the essence of it is really pretty simple: We are heating up the planet and dangerously melting the polar ice caps.”
But an Associated Press fact check found that “the overwhelming body of scientific evidence points to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, as the chief cause of global warming.”
Many climate scientists say that empirical evidence of man-made climate change is overwhelming.
But some skeptics contend that there isn’t enough solid proof — and they’re supported by some in Congress who want to cut funding for more research.
Many of the climate scientists say that the debate is over and there’s no longer any point in funding research whose results are already known. But skeptics counter, saying they want to prevent wasteful spending on studies with predetermined outcomes.
Climate change debates seem to reflect both politics and science. Some people believe what the evidence shows; some don’t. Some scientists say the debate is over — but some skeptics believe that the scientific community hasn’t been entirely honest about everything it knows.
So how can you get to the bottom of this very complicated issue?
One way to do that might be for both sides of this important debate to be more candid and forthcoming with real data, rather than rhetoric, to support their positions.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, with 2010 being the hottest year ever globally for land surfaces — despite a La Nina weather pattern.
But skeptics say there are problems not only with the data but also how it’s collected and analyzed — and that some scientists have a political or ideological agenda.
The IPCC faces criticism for not looking at the impact of solar activity on climate change, while some skeptics say its projections are based on faulty computer models.
Scientists from both sides should be more willing to honestly state what they know or don’t know about our changing climate and what they believe is causing it. There’s too much at stake for this important debate to be reduced to political grandstanding or worse, an ideological witch hunt.
The debate over climate change is as complicated as the science behind it, but it shouldn’t be beyond human understanding.
In fact, there are very few things in this world that are as complicated as the science behind climate change.
Even if you’re only concerned about the politics of the issue, there’s sure to be a politician on either side who is catering to your interests.
In other words, it’s highly unlikely that anyone could really understand everything about this debate — and so it makes sense to find the best ways to cut through all this complexity. Do your best to learn more about the science behind climate change, without the political mess that gets it all messed up, and then only then can you conclude how you truly feel and think about the reality of climate change.