There is a growing movement, grassroots in nature, but starting to connect, called the skeptics community.
Who exactly are they? Are they people who are starting to uncover the truth – that most world governments are a sham and that secret societies control our every move? Do they deny the holocaust and suspect 9/11 was a complex plot?
A skeptic is merely someone who needs to be convinced of things through reason, rather than one who accepts things on some-one’s say-so.
So what is a global warming ‘skeptic’?
Climate science is complex, and consensus opinion is that man’s activity has led to increased greenhouse gas emissions which are likely to reduce outgoing radiation and thus lead to a net shift upward in the temperature of the Earth’s delicate surface. Yes, there are other possible causes, yes, the models contain assumptions, and yes, some fools have fabricated data to look cool. It is also true that many respected scientists will not say it is a cast iron ‘fact’.
So that is the scene – and there seem to be a few types of stakeholders:
- the ‘global warming denier’
- the ‘global warming skeptic’
- the regular ‘skeptic’
- and lastly, the gullible!
A ‘global warming denier’ has come to mean someone who does not think the evidence stacks up enough to warrant concern, or worse, thinks it is all a giant conspiracy.
A ‘global warming skeptic’ has come to be somewhat synonymous with a denier, but perhaps without the conspiracy angle. However, many are just people who are on the fence – they are often very smart, and don’t just believe what they are told, but on the other hand, they are easily misled, as there is just so much misinformation out there. They may be the ones who say “I heard the jury is out…” rather than actually looking at evidence.
Some legitimate scientists have foolishly allowed themselves to be given this label, just because they debate some small details (like the rate of heating, or the likely nature of socio-political impacts). These scientists are then lumped with deniers. Tough luck to them.
Now a true skeptic will weigh all evidence according to the following principles:
- is it logical?
- does it conflict with other strong theories? If so, is it strong enough warrant a change to your previous understanding?
- is there independent corroboration?
- do the proponents have a proven track record (credibility)?
- is there any incentive by stakeholders to twist the facts?
This describes most good scientists, so its not a bad thing.
In the case of global warming, most true skeptics who have looked closely at the evidence and weighed it appropriately, agree that there is real cause for concern.
But yes, we skeptics will always retain just a little doubt, because you just never know…