Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Big Stumbling Block

Keith Kloor has some pertinent and insightful thoughts on the Skeptical Science survey published in Environmental Research Letters. He links to a report showing that many Americans view global warming as a problem of the future, or for other places or species, and writes
"That. Is. The. Stumbling. Block.

"Getting past that is going to require a frank debate about future uncertainties, risks, and scenarios, and the reconciliation of competing values."
None of the latter come from putting forward a single number like "97%."


Victor Venema said...

If that is the new debate, we have made a huge step forward.

No more childish: the temperature is not increasing and if it is it is only half as much and if it is it is not due to CO2 and if it is it is natural and will go down soon.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the quote from Keith.

But the conclusion that investigating the level of scientific consensus about the big picture is therefore meaningless doesn't quite follow. Esp not in light of a massive "consensus gap".

Likewise, the value of detailed physical inquiry does not negate the value of this type of study.


Anonymous said...

How is what you, Revkin, and Kloor are doing with respect to ignoring the evidence showing the importance of getting the public to understand the consensus not just blatant cherry picking?

bigcitylib said...

Actually, neither you nor Kloor get to decide what the big stumbling blocks are. As long as people are still wheeling out the "no consensus" line, then papers like this have to appear in the literature to refute them. Same thing happened with papers demonstrating the smoking/lung cancer link. It was necessary to prove and reprove the same basic proposition. Has to be done here as well; whether you or Kloor would rather be talking about something else is not relevant.

David Appell said...

Define "consensus."

There is certainly "consensus" in some scientific fields about some of their topics.


timg56 said...

Regarding Keith Kloor highlighting the Gallup survey point that Anmericans can't get worked up about climate change because its impacts are seem as being far in the future.

That may apply to a percentage of the people. I don't think it is the dominate reason.

Seeing this comment from the report - "have shown generally consistent majority support for the idea that global warming is real, that human activities cause it, and that news reports on it are correct, if not underestimated." - I thought that I can agree to the first point, partially agree to the second (I would substitute "are a cause" or "are impacting" to agree completely with it) and probably not agree to the last.

I'd also point out that it was statements such as "the debate is over", "the science is settled" and the whole "97% of climate scientists agree" argument which were what due me to this issue in the first place. That goes against what I learned about the scientific method (and put into practice as a science education mentor). Waiving the consensus flag is a distraction as far as I'm concerned.

timg56 said...

RE bigcity,

you should probably be questioning John Cook if you are of the opinion that the consensus argument needs to be pushed harder. I see it as diluting the argument.