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Five Ways to Know if You Can Talk to Someone about Climate

Since we first covered the Climategate Files here at PJ Media in 2009, the controversy has continued, but with some interesting changes. For example, the term "global warming" has pretty universally been replaced with the term "climate change." The language has changed, and the facts have changed. There are lots of new facts, and a whole lot of them dispute the climate dogma.

Of course, the more the climate dogma is disputed, the more the climate change cultists resist. On the other hand, we've seen a lot more people coming out as thinking maybe, just maybe, there are some points of responsible dispute in the argument about climate change.

On the other hand, there are a lot of dogmatists who simply can't be productively argued with. (On both sides, actually.) So how can we tell when we're trying to argue with someone who is worth the effort, or if we should just move on to some other topic, like baseball?

So, here are some suggestions of things to watch for in order to know when you should be talking about the Mets.

1. Do they use "denier" as an argument?

This is a key giveaway, always. In science, the science is never settled. There is always new information, and everything can be questioned. There are examples every day of "settled science" that turns out to be wrong, and yes this includes "climate science." So, if someone says that it's "settled science" and accuses you of being a "science denier," ask them what they think of the Rockies' chances this year.

2. Do they uncritically accept the "97 percent of scientists agree" argument?

Actually, this is a variant of the "denier" argument, in a somewhat more civilized form. There was indeed a peer-reviewed paper published that claimed they'd done a survey and 97 percent of scientists agreed that global warming was a major problem. There were two basic issues there:

  1. That wasn't the actual question they asked.
  2. The methodology -- how to say this diplomatically? -- sucked.

For the details, there are several good papers to read, but it comes down to two things: the survey was done with little rigor, and the way they asked the question was so broad that it included in the 97 percent a whole lot of people who are otherwise reviled as "deniers" who must be in the employ of the oil companies. (One example is Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon at the Harvard astrophysics laboratory.)

If you ask, "has there been warming in historical times, and do humans contribute to it?" the answer is "almost certainly yes." They never asked the follow-on questions: "how much do humans contribute?" and "what are the consequences?" and "is reducing the human contribution the best use of limited resources?"