Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global Warming?

I'm not a huge fan of dogmatic people. In fact, I hate proselytizers who blindly bulldoze anyone who opposes them... it's hateful and self-centered and unfair. Of course, I've been guilty of it myself on occasion, but I've tried to be introspective and keep an open mind. The problem with having a truly open mind in the pursuit of Truth is that your fundamental belief system can be radically undermined at any time.

Recently, the global warming debate has been heating up (sorry, bad one) and I've had to reexamine what I think about it all. I remember hearing a scientist say years ago that one volcanic eruption is thousands of times more harmful to the ozone layer than humans burning fossil fuels. It seemed to make sense at the time and I clung to that belief for many years. Besides, how could we puny humans change something so vast as the Earth?

And then I saw Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. I'm not saying I'm totally convinced—even experts can disagree, right?—but the data Gore lays out is compelling. He explores many different aspects of the debate, and each section convincingly points to two conclusions: (1) global warming exists and (2) humans are causing it.

I didn't want to believe it. I still don't want to believe it.... but after looking at the data he presents, I can't honestly say it's all a lie originating from dogmatic tomfoolery. Gore may be onto something, and even if there's a very small chance he's right, it would be negligent not to at least consider it very carefully.

The most influential piece in the film is a 6 minute clip about CO2 emissions and I was ecstatic to find it on You Tube. If you're still on the fence about whether humans are causing global warming, watch this clip and I bet it will make you think twice:

5 comments:

Susan said...

An Inconvenient Truth is a great film, and I'm convinced that global warming is real, and I'm astounded that many people still think otherwise. That said, one thing to remember is correlation doesn't equal causality- meaning just because the C02 levels and the temp levels have parallel graphs, it doesn't mean that one causes the other. And when one skyrockets, we don't know for sure that the other will... we really don't know what will happen.

But: ice shelves the size of Rhode Island breaking free; the Alaskan tundra thawing; the Brits having to build a new Antarctic base because the ice underneath the old is collapsing; mahi mahi caught off San Francisco. Enjoy those last bottles of CA wine, and kiss the polar bears goodbye. This stuff is almost as scary as Arousal!

Ross Pruden said...

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc is the logical fallacy you're referring to and yes, nobody knows for sure what's happening.

However...

...the growing mountain of data is difficult to ignore, much like the data for the theory of evolution doesn't "prove" the theory, but a glance at the data makes the theory's conclusion self-evident.

Just look at the correlation of the two sets of data on Gore's chart... do you honestly feel there's no correlation at all? Rather, on a 1 to 10 scale of certainty, how certain are you that there is no correlation? I'm around a 1 or a 2.

Susan said...

I'm not saying that there is no correlation... there definitely is a correlation. I just find it interesting that that particular graph has such an impact, compared to things like Arctic and Antarctic ice shelves collapsing. While I think the graph can be argued with, the alarming changes that have already taken place are undeniable. Why is a drawing with a little red line and a little blue line so powerful? Is it that we just can't imagine massive ice islands now adrift in a rising sea? Maybe PowerPoint is the language we can speak.

Ross Pruden said...

The colored lines matter because they signify changes over thousands of years instead of the last 20... who can say with any certainty how many times ice shelves have broken away in the past?

Interesting reactions from my Myspace blog here.

Christopher said...

The film did a pretty good job of analyzing the causes of warming, but also leapt immediately to the worst-case scenarios about the future consequences. Read Ronald Bailey over at Reason magazine for someone who is both rigorous and open-minded about these issues.

Oh, I also read last week about a study that shows a high correlation between Earth's historical warming/cooling phases and those of other inner planets. The implication is that the sun's output is far more important than anything we might do.