The argument over the existence of climate change and, if it is actually occurring, the extent to which man is responsible for it, is one I’m reluctant to have. I believe there is such a thing as global warming, and I believe it’s more likely than not that man’s activity since the beginning of industrialization have made at least some contribution to it, but I’m also forced to admit whenever the subject comes up that I know jack-shit about climatology and am only able to inarticulately regurgitate the ideas of much smarter people.
I lack formal training in biology and cosmology, too, but arguments with creationists over the age and origin of the universe or the fact of evolution are usually within my abilities because I at least have enough of a grasp of the basic concepts to do some of my own thinking. The climate crisis (a phrase I never tire of pronouncing in a joyless, robotic lisp in the style of Al Gore) is a much more opaque topic to me, and the science is way too complicated and fluid for me, or anyone not trained in a relevant field, to have any useful understanding of it.
Luckily, there is a way for a reasonable layman to make up his or her own mind about the truth of global warming. That way comes, not surprisingly, from the always lucid Mark Vuletic, who writes at his website,
First, let us take note of the fact that of those who do have expertise in climate science, the consensus is that anthropogenic climate change is real, and significant. I am not aware of anyone who denies that this is the consensus position. Now, as far as I can tell, four possibilites present themselves:
(i) The scientific consensus has it right. . . .
(ii) The overwhelming number of climate scientists are so stupid that they have completely missed devastating arguments so simple that even a layman can understand them. . . .
(iii) The overwhelming number of climate scientists are liars, publishing nothing but flimsy or fraudulent work, and giving the nod to the entirely flimsy or fraudulent work of others, in a vast, somehow globally coordinated effort either to (a) advance their own careers, or (b) push forward an even more massive ecofascist agenda of which they are only one component. Sometimes all of these scientists are even presented as part of a UN-driven religious conspiracy to control the world populace under false pretenses. . . .
(iv) The scientific consensus has it wrong, for reasons sufficiently subtle or technical as to currently elude their understanding, much less the understanding of a non-expert. . . .
In other words, given the present state of climate science, in order for you as a layman to disbelieve the claims of man-made global warming, you must also simultaneously believe that the overwhelming majority of scientists all across the globe who study the phenomenon as part of their lives’ work are either idiots or deliberately misleading the public as part of a sinister global conspiracy to do . . . something. Given a layman’s level of ignorance on the subject, believing in option (iv) would be a baseless supposition. You either trust the consensus of the scientific community, or you doubt either their intelligence or their honesty. Since I have no reason to doubt either, I accept option (i).
Vuletic has some other interesting observations on his four proposed options, and the global warming debate in general, so I encourage you all to read his full article.