I don’t debate climate change anymore. There are several reasons. Among them is the basic fact that I’m not a climate scientist. I don’t have the education to make determinations about the data – how it was collected, how it’s interpreted, what adjustments may have been made and why. That’s all science stuff best left to climate scientists.
That leaves me to make determinations based on things around climate science. For example, the US military makes adjustments for it. They don’t make adjustments lightly. Businesses are taking into account – even fossil fuel businesses. Rising oceans have already caused the evacuation of at least one island nation and the water regularly encroaches on Florida, things like that…
But there are things, as well. I was once in a Facebook “discussion” with someone who offered me a link to a blog post with what he claimed included 800 links to peer-reviewed, climate science denial papers. I guess the sheer weight of such a post had run off many of his opponents in the past but I did something he apparently didn’t expect; I looked at the links. Turns out, each link went to what is called a manual redirect page – with a link right back to the original post! It wasn’t a post with links to 800 different papers, it was 1 link 800 times.
Think about that. Somebody took the time to set up 800 fake blog pages, each with a link right back to the originating page. I even noticed that the project had apparently fatigued its creator. At first, each faked “blog” page had a paragraph or two. Then the content dwindled to a line or two. Then just a single sentence. After awhile, only the circular link. 800 fake pages. 800 circular links.
That’s no “accident.” It’s not an “honest mistake.” That’s not somebody who “should have looked more carefully”. That’s a clear intent to deceive. (These are the same people who insist that the number of hurricanes hasn’t increased, all the while hoping you don’t notice what’s happening with the overall number of “Named Storms” – tropical and subtropical storms that don’t quite make it into the “hurricane” category.)
In a circumstances like that, I resort to my standing rule of thumb that says that the person who knowingly attempts to deceive is tacitly admitting foreknowledge that their position is false. It’s a good rule. It serves me well.
But probably the single most important factor, for me, is that whenever I’m talking to someone who denies climate science, I know I’m talking to a conservative. That shouldn’t be the case. Science doesn’t draw neat little lines between political positions. Do you remember those graphs that show the intersections of two groups? It’s usually two circles pushed together until they overlap with a little shaded area in the middle. The circle on the left might be, say, the population of New York City and the circle on the right might be the number of people who speak French. Push the two together and you can see, graphically, the number of people in New York City who speak French.
Well, if you label the left, red circle “Conservatives” and the right, slightly smaller, yellow, circle “People who deny climate science” and start pushing them together, the yellow circle will slide all the way into the red circle, leaving an orange circle with a slim red “halo” around the side (because not even all conservatives deny climate science). Then we can see, graphically, that the population of people who deny climate science is made up entirely of conservatives.
But I’ll tell you this: that’s not how science works…