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Sharpen up your climate change arguments

Written By: - Date published: 4:22 am, November 14th, 2007 - 3 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

The BBC has a good roundup of the top 10 climate change denier arguments with rebuttals from scientists who agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: that it’s happening, it’s due to us, and the potential damage is serious.

Worthwhile reading for those who still find themselves in these kinds of arguments in the home, the office or at the pub over a cup of cocoa. Arm yourself.

3. The earth has been warmer in the recent past

The beginning of the last Millennium saw a “Mediaeval Warm Period” when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today.

There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today – if not the MWP, then maybe the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Whether those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth’s orbital wobbles or continental configurations, none of those causes apply today. Evidence for a Mediaeval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: “The idea of a global or hemispheric Mediaeval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect”. Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still.

(Via BoingBoing)

3 comments on “Sharpen up your climate change arguments ”

  1. Matthew Pilott 1

    That BBC site is great – I’ve had quite a few people come up with “it’s all caused by the sun’ or variations upon the solar cycle theme. Seems that the solar cycle hasn’t increased, which puts paid to that theory.

    I read a great pragmatic argument a while ago, that is now oft repeated – there are four possibilities with four outcomes.

    One, that we act upon climate change, and the science is wrong. outcome: financial cost, oportunity cost of that money in other global action spending, such as alleviating poverty.

    Two, we don’t act and the science is wrong. Outcome: we go on our merry way (why does this strike me as so unlikely??) and hopefully would have sent some of that money on something worthwhile!

    Three, we don’t act and the science is right. Outcome: to put it bluntly, earth is shot. Mass poverty, monumental refugee crises and crop failures. Short of a militarily-imposed isolation and attempt at an independant economy (which would most likely fail) every country will be very negatively affected, to the point where there will be no global trade and no global economy. This will ruin developed nations, even if the refugee and food problems don’t.

    Four, we act and the science is right: depending on the strength of the action, we could mitigate the bulk of the effects of what we’ve caused.

    Now, if you score those, one could be given an arbirtaty minus 20 (to set a scale) for the detrimental effect.

    Two, a plus 20 for the positive effect.

    Three and four would be unclassifiable, given the scale of destruction/damage averted. So the only pragmatic option is four, as it avoids the possibility of three…

    If anyone’s aware of an electronic version of that I’d love the like – I’m sure it has been expressed far more eloquently elsewhere!

  2. Santa Claws 2

    Well, I suppose it makes a change for the Labour Good/National Bad meme.

    Climate Change Good/Skeptic Bad doesn’t really make a credible argument though. That BBC article is lightweight for sure. I wonder if they will do a reverse version for balance?

    “Warming is unequivocal” Yeah Right – stating such does not make it so.

    Here’s an interesting article on the Hockey Stick affair which also raises reasonable questions on other aspects of GW.


  3. Matthew Pilott 3

    It’s not the New Scientist, but if you have decent enough background knowledge that site condenses parts of it nicely.

    “Warming is unequivocal” Yeah Right – stating such does not make it so.” Eh?

    As for the pragmatic argument – you’d have to base a decision not to act upon your beliefs in climate change science, or that of the deniers, and you’d need some damn strong evidence to assure me that it’s not worth taking action…

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