Climate Change: Between Alarm and Denial Lies the Truth
In today's media, there is a lot of hype and hysteria over climate change, known to many as global warming.
The war between climate change alarmists and denialists is a long and elaborate struggle, fought on the battlefield of American social and political life. On both sides, science has been misrepresented, dissenters have been silenced, and serious accusations of fraud have been levied.
I am not, nor do I pretend to be, a scientist of any sort. But I have followed the debate in the media and have seen the arguments scientists use. In examining all this, I have found four major categories of viewpoints: alarmists, proponents, skeptics and denialists.
Alarmists: We're all gonna die! Humans are changing the climate! There is NO scientific debate, for the evidence is incontrovertible! If we don't stop climate change today, the entire world will be destroyed! Anyone who says otherwise is worse than a Holocaust denier and should be kicked down the stairs repeatedly!
Some examples of climate-change alarmists are Al Gore and Noam Chomsky. These men have said that "there is no scientific debate" over climate change, and that it will cause "the destruction of the [human] species." Perhaps it's no surprise that very few scientists endorse this position.
Proponents: There is strong evidence to suggest that humans are changing the climate. The earth has clearly grown warmer, and mankind is most likely the culprit. Climate change will bring serious negative consequences for humans, especially those who live near the coast or in Third World countries. We emphasize, however, that there is much uncertainty in our predictions and that further scientific study is needed before we can make concrete predictions about the climate.
Most scientists hold a position similar to this one. A recent poll by CNN found that 82 percent of earth scientists believe that humans are causing global warming. Almost every scientific organization holds a position that fits in this category.
Skeptics: Humans may be causing climate change, but the science is far from settled. Scientific organizations and environmental groups have a tendency to overemphasize evidence that supports climate change theory, while ignoring evidence that weakens it. Even if humans are changing the climate, that isn't necessarily bad. It could even be a good thing!
This is the position taken by most of the scientists who aren't proponents. For example, Dr. Pat Michaels, a qualified climatologist, believes that "humans are indeed warming the climate" but that "a modest warming is a likely benefit." In other words, humans cause climate change, but that's a good thing.
Denialists: Climate change is a hoax, invented by fat cat environmentalist liberals! It has nothing to do with science; it's a fraud designed to take away our money! There is a global conspiracy to shut up any scientists who will suggest an obvious truth: that climate change is a myth! It's liberal tripe, all of it!
This is a position taken by a number of right-wing pundits, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Charles Krauthammer. There are also a number of politicians who fall into this end of the spectrum, including Sen. James Inhofe and, recently, Rep. Ron Paul. As with alarmism, very few credible scientists are denialists.
I consider myself a proponent. Common sense shows that humans are changing the climate; global temperatures have clearly risen, and that correlates very well with increased greenhouse gas emissions. It is also worth pointing out that the vast majority of scientists, people who are in a position to know, are climate change proponents, and should be taken seriously.
But the skeptical scientists, though fewer in number, are just as qualified as the proponents and must also be taken seriously. I'm curious to see what future research will reveal, not only in terms of climate science, but also in terms of renewable energy, which will help us solve this problem.
Alarmism and denialism are both ludicrous. There is no such thing as "settled science." There will always be uncertainty in our understanding. But neither is climate change a "hoax." For it to be a hoax, one must assume that hundreds of thousands of scientists in different fields, countries and scientific organizations are all conspiring to falsify evidence.
But don't take my word for it - or anybody else's. Look it up for yourself. Only by seriously studying this phenomenon of climate change can the public truly understand it.
Andrew Soboeiro is a junior at Pinecrest High School.
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