This series of posts has been inspired by a recent Think Progress piece Joe Romm. To wit:
Headline and subheading: “The most important thing you can do right now to fight climate change, according to science: It is ‘massively important’ we all start talking about climate change, a Yale researcher explains.”
Americans rarely talk about climate change with family and friends. Tragically, research shows that this climate silence reinforces the dangerously wrong belief that climate change isn’t an existential threat requiring urgent action. …
[As Climatologist Michael] Mann wrote in an email to ThinkProgress. “The more people actually understand about the science of climate change, the more they are likely to accept the scientific consensus — that climate change is real, human-caused, and a threat to human civilization.”
My first point is that the scientific consensus is not “that climate change is real, human-caused, and a threat to human civilization.” The standard understanding of the scientific consensus is that “the earth is warming and that this warming is mainly caused by human activities.” Or words to that effect.
Examples of statements that are not in agreement with the consensus as defined:
The earth is not warming.
The earth may or may not be warming (need more evidence)
The earth is warming but it’s due to natural causes.
The earth is warming due in part to human activities but these activities may not be the main reason the earth is warming.
Examples of statements that have nothing to do with the consensus on climate change:
Climate change is a threat to human civilization.
Climate change policy should be incremental and fiscally prudent.
There is considerable uncertainty about how much the earth will warm this century and what the regional effects of warming will be.
Climate change policies should not be dictated by improbable worse-case scenarios.
Rule # 1: If you’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change, don’t misrepresent what the scientific consensus actually is.
Rule # 2: If you’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change, be prepared to discuss the evidence for a scientific consensus.
Rule # 3: If you want to have an honest conversation about climate change, remember that conversation is a two-way street. That means it’s just as much about listening as speaking.
Rule # 4: If your goal is to persuade someone to agree with you, then your goal is not to have an honest conversation.
Next: What is the evidence for a scientific consensus on climate change? Checking out the studies in the ThinkProgress graphic.