Here are the facts, assuming you are persuaded by such things. Since the inception of the industrial revolution, humans have pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than can be naturally cycled back into the environment. As a result, there is an overabundance of CO2 and heat being trapped in the atmosphere. Polar ice caps are melting, releasing an extraordinary amount of moisture and methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane gas exasperates the warming trend. Extra moisture, in a warmer than usual atmosphere, means more extreme weather the globe over, with deadly consequences.
That’s what I learned 20 years ago in college, before global warming was relegated from the field of scientific inquiry to political theater.
Whatever you want to call it–global warming or climate change–98% of the world’s scientists have concluded that it is happening and we are causing it. Every advanced country in the world has heeded the warning and understands that something has to be done, except one. That rogue country is The United States of America, home of the free and climate change deniers.
A Pew Research Center poll taken in October 2010 found that only 34% of Americans believe that there is credible evidence that global warming is happening and that we have a heavy hand in it. Only 59% of those polled believe that the consensus in the scientific community is that the earth is getting warming and that humans are the cause. According to the poll, 50% of Americans are not persuaded by what 98% of scientist believe to be true.
An article, in The Sociological Quarterly entitled, The Politicization of Climate Change and Polarization in the America Public’s View of Global Warming, tried to make sense of the phenomenon of climate change denial, which is a more puzzling phenomenon than climate change itself. Among other things, the authors of the study concluded, “significant ideological and partisan polarization has occurred on the issue of climate change over the past decade.”
Climate change is no longer the province of itchy looking scientists in white lab jackets. Though scientists are in near unanimous agreement that environmentally speaking we are shooting ourselves in the foot, the only debate that matters now is one that is political and cultural in nature.
This isn’t about science any more. It’s about conspiracy theories, the fossil fuel industry, partisan politics, anit-intellectualism and a visceral dislike of environmentalists. Mostly, this is about trying to persuade people who look upon science and facts with suspicion and disbelief.