Two related and disturbing news articles crossed my desk today.
The first was posted at a number of news sites including one of my favorites, Salon.com, and recounted the story of a report released today by The American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the world’s largest general scientific society with a membership of 121,200 scientists and “science supporters” globally.” The 18-page concise report is titled simply What We Know [pdf]. It provides a clear summary of the facts that a huge, huge majority of the nation’s scientists agree on. The three main facts as summarized in the report:
- “About 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening”
- “The range of uncertainty for the warming along the current emissions path is wide enough to encompass massively disruptive consequences to societies and ecosystems.”
- “Waiting to take action will inevitably increase costs, escalate risk, and foreclose options to address the risk. Moreover, as emissions continue and warming increases, the risk increases.”
The other news report covered a recent Gallup poll of American attitudes and beliefs about climate change. It found that although a majority (57%) of Americans believe climate change is happening now and is due largely to human causes, only about 1/3 see it as a real threat to their way of life. Another disturbing fact discovered in the poll is that a significant majority (84%) of Americans think they are very or fairly well-informed about climate change and yet that same group is the one most likely to be skeptical about human responsibility for the crisis. This suggests to me that the folks who claim to be well-informed are merely in the possession of lots of inaccurate and unscientific data.
I’m always bewildered by people who have opinions about facts. Anyone who looks at data on which 97% of experts in any given subject matter agree and forms a contrary opinion is not a critical thinker. They are merely spouting what they’ve heard someone else say or applying their irrelevant and often prejudiced “knowledge” to an inappropriate subject. That kind of “thinking” and “reasoning” has the potential to sink our great nation. And when it’s applied to the response to global climate change, it’s nearly guaranteed to do so in the long run.