We found out today that physicist and long-time global warming skeptic, Richard Muller, has reached a final conclusion about global warming. He now concludes temperatures are in fact rising rapidly, after running a two-year study with his daughter.
Unlike most people skeptical of global warming, Muller had both the expertise and motivation to conduct his own research and see for himself whether or not temperatures are actually rising. And unlike most scientists conducting this same research, Muller does not appear to buy in to the idea that human activity is behind the rise in temperatures. At least I assume so, since he made no comment about the cause in his latest study and because of his history of skepticism and disbelief. Which leads me to some important questions and the main point of this post: if an overwhelming majority of experts (i.e. climate scientists) believe something in their field to be true (i.e. human activity is causing the earth’s temperature to rise), is it true? Since climate scientists are unable to run experiments that 100% accurately simulate the Earth’s climate, are they taking a leap of faith in regards to the causes and effects of climate change? How might this impact the conversation and dialogue between man-made climate change believers and disbelievers?
As with most people, I think we should take very seriously the scientific research claiming that our temperatures are rising as a result of human activity. At the very least, consider man-made climate change a possibility. Regardless of what I think, there are countless people who don’t listen to these scientists and think the whole idea of climate change is a hoax, or “junk science”. My hope is that Muller’s findings will bring these skeptics back in to the climate change conversation with a more open mind and engage some people for the first time. Thanks to Muller’s findings, we should, at the very least, be able to get past the initial controversy of whether or not the globe is actually warming, and focus more on the potential causes.
On the other side of the coin are people who believe without question that humans are to blame for Earth’s rising temperatures. While these people are likely right, given the overwhelming consensus among experts, I believe they lose their effectiveness to engage “non-believers” in the conversation by refusing to consider any possibility that human beings are not responsible, after all. Despite the good intentions, it can be seen as a personal mission to “convert” someone to believe the way that they do, and some people are simply unwilling to be converted. For any subject, it is crucial that people engage with an open mind, lest we risk alienating the other side from the get go.
Climate change is a heated issue, and for the most part, it seems as though people have made up their minds. Unfortunately, having our minds fully made up about what is or isn’t happening, why, and what the results will or won’t be can stall our dialogue and reduce our effectiveness to create change, should change be needed.