It's okay to know that people are wrong without knowing why.

In the course of the research I do for this blog (because, believe it or not, I wasn't born into this world with full knowledge of our climate change crisis - sucks, huh?), I run across a lot of people who deny some or all of this whole global warming thing. And it gets really confusing, because sometimes they're really good at debating, or they really are scientists with a ton of credits to their name, and I start to think "But man, this guy (or girl, but mostly guy) really sounds like they know their stuff."

Here's the thing, though.

Science is not exact - it's easy to pick a single scientific paper apart. It's also easy to find research that supports your view. Science is not an individual thing - the truth is in the sum total, provided by organizations like the International Panel on Climate Change (hey Al, if you're reading this (and of course you are) congrats on the Nobel Prize). These are the people who review thousands of papers to figure out a good guess at what's really going on.

Wikipedia has a good article on Scientific Opinion on Climate Change, which is totally credible since they're just collecting statements by various organizations. Of note, this quote: "With the July 2007 release of the revised statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate."

And that's really the key. "scientific bod[ies] of national or international standing" - not some dude with a webpage (or even a doctorate).

Even more importantly, though: the climate is not simple.

In this blog, I'm sometimes guilty of making things sound really simple - and maybe more often, I'm guilty of thinking they're simple too. They're really not. In my last post, I talked about warming atmosphere equaling warming oceans, which is happening - but the way it happens is incredibly complicated and includes a ton of different chemical and meteorological processes.

Which is why we have scientists - to understand this stuff.

But at the core, no one really understands the climate. It's way, way too big. We think we understand some generalities - and we know some things for sure - but it's still really complicated.

(Even worse, the nature of the Universe makes any complex system inherently unpredictable - yay for Chaos Theory and rewatching Jurassic Park!)

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that there are a ton of ways that foolish, misguided (and potentially dangerous) people can twist science into something that isn't true - and sound really smart in the process.

But in the end, we all have to rely on common sense. If gigantic panels of scientists in every country (at least not dominated by the oil trade), independent organizations, and the United Nations are saying that they've looked at all the papers, and the consensus is that there's climate change - what's the chances that a few dudes somewhere can pick a single scientific paper apart and unravel a huge conspiracy?

For whatever reason, there are people in this world who choose to disbelieve climate change - and the truth of it is that we don't have the time to deal with them. We need to get to work, not walk some fools through the steps to understanding - especially if it's against their will.

Global warming exists, and it's getting worse. That's all there is to it, at the core.

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