Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Perils of Misinformation

Troubling news: The New York Times reports that climate change skeptics in Britain are winning the public opinion battle. This matches a trend seen in the United States, and elsewhere.

Anecdotal evidence can have a strong influence on the uninformed.

In case you missed it, read my Questions for Climate Change Skeptics.

The Union of Concerned Scientists offers this write-up on certainty vs. uncertainty in science:
In this culture of transparency where climate scientists describe degrees of certainty and confidence in their findings, climate change deniers have linked less than complete certainty with not knowing anything. The truth is, scientists know a great deal about climate change. We have learned, for example, that the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. There is no uncertainty about this. We have learned that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat through the greenhouse effect. Again, there is no uncertainty about this. Earth is warming because these gasses are being released faster than they can be absorbed by natural processes. It is very likely (greater than 90 percent probability) that human activities are the main reason for the world's temperature increase in the past 50 years.

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