Society should be skeptical of the skeptics



One of the noblest things that a person can be is a skeptic. Adopting this mindset pushes an individual to think critically and, more importantly, individually. It requires that you question something even when it seems certain.

That being said, sometimes circumstances dictate that we be skeptical of the skeptics. The perfect example is man-made climate change.

The American public as a whole seems to fall into this category, as polls show that large numbers of Americans either believe that climate change is a hoax or that its effects are nothing to be concerned about. This sentiment is motivated by our media’s tendency to portray this debate as being equal.

The problem with this is that so often in the climate change debate, the skeptics have no qualifications on which to base their accusations and often attempt to twist the facts to support their political agenda.

One of the biggest talking points that climate change skeptics like to tout is that average global temperatures haven’t risen since 1998.

This is a distortion of the full picture, as 1998 was the hottest year on record at the time until 2005 replaced it. As a whole, 2000-2009 was the hottest decade in recorded history and 2014 is on track to become the hottest year on record.

This talking point also avoids the fact that since the 1960s, around 90 percent of the heat caused by the greenhouse effect has been absorbed by the oceans. Also, the report on which the 1998 talking point is based only focused on surface temperatures, which do not reflect the entire picture of global warming.

Another point skeptics like to bring up is that there is a legitimate debate within the science community. This just simply isn’t true.

A sample of 13,950 peer-reviewed articles on climate change was taken between 1991 and 2012.  Only 24 of the articles denied the existence of man-made climate change.

Also, a study published in 2010 found that of 1,372 climate researchers surveyed, 97 to 98 percent agreed that humans are causing climate change.

My personal favorite is the idea that in the 1970s, scientists thought that the earth was cooling. This is a half-truth. There were scientists who looked at the cooling trend between 1940 and 1970, which we now know was due to an excessive use of aerosols, and predicted another ice age.

But this was a minority of the scientific community, as a review of scientific articles from 1965 to 1979 found that most scientists predicted global warming, not cooling.

If one needs to look at a quintessential example of a climate change skeptic, look at the Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman.

He is a known climate change skeptic and recently went on Fox News and called man-made climate change a myth.

Coleman is one of the more prominent and highly regarded climate change skeptics, yet he has never published peer-reviewed research on climate change. And his base as a weathercaster is in journalism, not climate science.

This point might seem hypocritical, as I am a journalist commenting on a scientific matter.

But my point is that people should listen to the overwhelming consensus of people who specialize in this branch of science and stop listening to people like Coleman who deny or manipulate scientific fact in order to promote an ideological agenda funded by the interests of the fossil fuel industry.

As I said earlier, man-made climate change is one area in which people should be skeptical of the skeptics.

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