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Scientific Consensus and Global Warming

tin_foil_hatSome of the most bizarre and impassioned discussions I have with people do not involve politics (directly) or even religion. No, it seems that people are more than happy to come completely unglued when discussing…wait for it…global warming.

Yes, global warming, that enormously elaborate, perfectly executed global hoax perpetuated over the course of several decades by the vast majority of physicists, chemists, astronomers, geologists, biologists and so on who study climate with the sole purpose of getting rich off of grant money (irrespective of their academic credentials, affiliations, organizations or national origins).

Well, either that or global warming is real.

But at any rate, the willingness of people to squeeze their eyes shut and close their ears remains astonishing.

Case in point. In a twitter argument I was in some time ago, a global warming denier accused me of asserting the reality of global warming without providing any evidence to support my assertion; to which I responded that I have the overwhelming consensus of the entire scientific community on my side. I added that on their “side” they have Fox News, right wing talk radio and blogs, Glenn Beck, and in fairness, a very small handful of scientific contrarians largely ignored by their colleagues at this point.  But no real science. Nothing in a peer-reviewed journal of note. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada.

Losing patience with this particular climate contrarian’s willful ignorance, I asked him to name a single scientific body of national or international standing that does not endorse the consensus on anthropogenic global warming. He gave me the Fraser Institute, Slovakia’s past president Vaclav Klaus, and something called Weather Canada. What?  Did I misspell “scientific body of national or international standing?” This type of false equivalence is endemic with climate change deniers. They do not understand what makes for a statement of credible science and for the life of me I can’t figure out why they don’t get it.

Clearly some people simply have no idea what constitutes a national or international scientific body, so allow me a few words to document my position more succinctly and hopefully in so doing, elucidate the term “scientific consensus” should any poor soul need to reference this page in the future:

I understand climate change is real not because I’m a climate scientist, but because I trust climate scientists and more specifically, I trust the scientific method to ferret out the invalid and leave the valid.

With that, let’s start with general science, physics, and chemistry:

American Association for the Advancement of Science: “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society….The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years.”

American Geophysical Union: “The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century.”

American Chemical Society: “Careful and comprehensive scientific assessments have clearly demonstrated that the Earth’s climate system is changing rapidly in response to growing atmospheric burdens of greenhouse gases and absorbing aerosol particles.”

American Institute of Physics: “The Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics has endorsed a position statement on climate change adopted by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Council:”

American science not good enough? What about scientific organizations in Europe?

The European Physical Society: “The emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, among which carbon dioxide is the main contributor, has amplified the natural greenhouse effect and led to global warming.

European Science Foundation: There is now convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases have become a major agent of climate change.”

Still not good enough? Let’s add a third continent then shall we?

Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies: “Global climate change is real and measurable. Since the start of the 20th century, the global mean surface temperature of the Earth has increased by more than 0.7°C and the rate of warming has been largest in the last 30 years.”

How about the people who in 2011, launched a 1-ton mobile laboratory on a 352 million mile journey and then landed it flawlessly with pin-point accuracy via a jet-propelled sky crane? You may know them as:

NASA:  “The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane to higher levels than at any point during the last 650,000 years. Scientists agree it is very likely that most of the global average warming since the mid-20th century is due to the human-induced increases in greenhouse gases, rather than to natural causes.”

How about meteorologists and oceanographers?

American Meteorological Society: “Human activities have become a major source of environmental change. Of great urgency are the climate consequences of the increasing atmospheric abundance of greenhouse gases.”

Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society: “Global climate change and global warming are real and observable … It is highly likely that those human activities that have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been largely responsible for the observed warming since 1950.”

And finally, what about our friends in paleoclimatology?

American Quaternary Association: “Few credible Scientists now doubt that humans have influenced the documented rise of global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution,” citing “the growing body of evidence that warming of the atmosphere, especially over the past 50 years, is directly impacted by human activity.”

Each of these organizations are comprised of hundreds if not thousands of experts in their respective fields; men and women who have spent decades refining their expertise through constant study, experimentation, peer-scrutiny, and analysis.  These are people who publish their findings as often as practicable, just so that their counterparts can tear it down if at all possible.  These are scientists.

That is what we mean when we say the scientific consensus is clear.

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