Year 2, Month 2, Day 3: Who Needs Experts When We Can Just Look Out The Window?

The Vancouver Times-Colonist points out that winter storms don’t disprove climate change. Since the headline (“Winter storms don’t undermine global warming science, climate experts say”) includes the phrase “experts say,” I am confidently expecting a barrage of “why would we trust them damn experts” comments, but I may be disappointed. Actually I couldn’t see any comments at all; perhaps the Times-Colonist doesn’t allow them? Anyway, rather than mock the deniers, I’m trying to be diagnostic.

Those who deny the existence of global climate change are caught in several all-too-human problems. One is the question of timescale; climatic shifts, while accelerating rapidly due to the greenhouse effect, are still too slow for most people to perceive (and by the time they’re happening fast enough for us to notice, it’ll be too late to do anything about it). Then there’s our inability to grasp the statistics of probability (since global warming doesn’t cause any single storm, flood, drought or weather event, but makes such events more likely everywhere). This innumeracy is part and parcel of the larger crisis of scientific ignorance; how can we understand all the crazy weather we’re having unless we know enough chemistry and physics to figure out how evaporation works? And finally, of course, is the sad fact that we in the developed world consider abandoning our conveniences a fate worse than death.

Warren Senders

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