Anyone remotely familiar with American politics understands the fervent passions evoked by the issue of global warming. Both sides claim that intense political, financial and social pressures have biased the opposing side. I find both sides at fault on this issue. We must move beyond this. I have written this article based on personal observations – not for the purpose of creating an argument on either side, but with the hope that it will change the way we debate the issue.
The necessity of making in-depth scientific debate between a few dozen experts publicly understandable has confounded real discussion at every corner. The fact is the vast majority of the American public lacks the cognitive capacity to understand the finer details of the debate. And the vast majority of those who have the capacity lack the time or interest. Do not delude yourself; everyone here, myself included, falls into one of these categories.
I myself believe that a majority of global warming the past century was due to man. However, I am a skeptic of the more dire temperature predictions, consequences and anyone who claims a definitive understanding of climate. The effects of solar radiation and the PDO relative to C02 is debatable. You can find a brief summary for arguments against anthropogenic global warming here. However, I do not doubt that some of the warming this century has been due to man. I will not make the scientific argument for AGW here. If you are not aware of it, or do not understand it, you need to do some research. I suggest the Wikipedia page for a start.
I hereby condemn false arguments and bias on both sides of the debate. Skepticism is a virtue, but it must be evenly dispensed. As a college student at what most of you would consider a liberal northeastern college, most students and professors I am exposed to unequivocally accept AGW, false observations of global warming, and dire predictions of its consequences. I was inspired to write this by a recent example of such unintended bias.
This evening my roommate attended a lecture by one of his professors in which the professor told the audience it has warmed in February, March and April during sugar maple tapping season. He has been a resident at the college for 34 years and taps over 1,000 trees in the spring. I, an amateur meteorologist, doubted this claim. In fact, the last F/M/A period 1992-2007 averaged .5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than during 1976-1991 (F: +.25; M: -.9; A: -1.1). I sent an email to the professor which read:
Dear Professor ****,
I attended your lecture this evening which I enjoyed greatly. However, I am somewhat of an amateur meteorologist and I had some issue with the claim that February/March/April has warmed in VT over the last 30 or so years as well as the idea that most climate changes within the past 30 years in VT have been due to global warming. The last 16 Feb-April periods have been an average of over .5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the 16 previous periods in Burlington (F: +.25; M: -.9; A: -1.1). It also reached +50F frequently prior to 1970 as well as several +60 records. Furthermore, I think a majority of Vermont's climate change within the last 30 or 40 years is explained by regional and multidecadal oscillations in climate independent of global warming. I do not mention this to diminish the importance of sustainable agriculture or fighting global warming but because I think it is critical to present global warming in a scientifically defensible manner.
If the professor responds, I will share it with you in the comments section, but in return I ask those of you who doubt the existence of AGW to rethink what kind of skeptic you really are. I hope that McCain's moderate position on this issue signifies a coming majority consensus. Debate between conflicting viewpoints and their eventual fusion into a consensus has made America great.
None of us are scientists, none of us are economists, and even if we were, we still would not have all the answers. However, there comes a point when a careful cost benefit analysis, even with incomplete information, necessitates action. I suggest we are at that point.