Year 2, Month 9, Day 11: I Didn’t Feel Like Writing Today, But I Did Anyway. So?

The Evansville IN Courier-Press runs a carefully neutral assessment of the state of scientific opinion on climate change and extreme weather:

The destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene has sparked another round of debate over global climate change, with believers advocating urgent action to address what they fear is a looming environmental catastrophe and doubters characterizing the issue as a hoax created to promote a political agenda.

And it is emerging as a major political issue, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, leading in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, counting himself among those who doubt that burning fossil fuels has an impact on the earth’s climate.

“I don’t think from my perspective that I want to be engaged in spending that much money on still a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question,” Perry said during a stop in New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation primary.

While a vast majority of climate scientists readily acknowledge that man is contributing to what they perceive as a problem by producing greenhouse gases, few at this stage are willing to declare that global climate change is leading to an increased frequency in hurricanes like Irene, although they don’t dismiss the possibility.

The comments include a great deal of idiocy. Sigh. This letter was written with multiple delays and a great drooping lack of motivation. But By Grabthar’s Hammer, I wrote it and sent it on September 8, whether I’m proud of it or not. Here you go:

America has a science problem. The overall level of scientific literacy in our country is shockingly low, a state of affairs that bodes ill not only for our country’s future, but that of the world as a whole. Nowhere is this more problematic than in reporting on climate change, a profoundly important issue for our species’ future. When scientists discuss the relationship between large-scale phenomena (like the greenhouse effect) and local events (a particular storm or some other form of extreme weather), they’ll use careful language that describes the relationship precisely, minimizing its emotional impact. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of climatologists are absolutely convinced that anthropogenic climate change will bring a drastic worldwide increase in extreme weather events — and that only rapid action can avert catastrophe. When news media give equal weight to the opinions of a few contrarians, it is both scientifically ignorant and deeply irresponsible.

Warren Senders

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