From politicians to regular old average folk on the street, many people seem to reject the idea that the climate has been adversely affected by man-made activity. Yet science seems to be pretty sound on this being a fact – 97% of scientific papers that took a stance on the subject after considering the evidence agreed, as demonstrated by John Oliver’s recent ‘Statistically Representative Climate Change Debate‘ stunt.
So why would anyone reject this?
Of course, for the average person the answer is obvious. They simply get the impression from the media that it’s all up for debate and the science isn’t in, or there’s disagreement – again, as demonstrated by John Oliver’s stunt – and so they hedge their bets based on what they’re exposed to (we can learn the same moral from the vaccines-cause-autism manufactroversy and non-debate). But for more vocal opponents in the media and politics, or even more vocal “regular” people one would expect that they know better. One would expect that their disagreements are based around science, and evidence, and studying and robust synthesised conclusions.
You – addressed to a hypothetical climate change “skeptic” – wouldn’t just think something for any old half-arsed reason, would you?
So, to prove your worth, here are 10 simple climatology questions that you should be able to answer if you’re enough of an expert to reject scientific consensus. If you can answer these (no cheating with Google and Wikipedia, you should know these already) then your opinion on climate change not being a real thing can hold some weight. And no, this won’t be multiple choice – each of these could be answered with a mini-essay discussing around the subject, because that’s how complex climatology actually is.
Q1. What is the primary carbon sink within the hydrosphere?
Q2. What is effect of oceanic salinity on the planet’s heat deficit?
Q3. What is the primary driving force behind the climate in north-western Europe?
Q4. What mechanism is responsible for the majority of sea level rises?
Q5. If we drained the oceans of water and replaced it with ethanol, what would happen?
Q6. When Phil Jones from the Climate Research Institute said “hide the decline” in an email, what was he actually talking about?
Q7. Super-continents are associated primarily with what kind of climate?
Q8. Which parts of the film The Day After Tomorrow are scientifically accurate?
Q9. Why doesn’t water vapour contribute to global warming even though it’s a significant greenhouse gas?
Q10. What is the radiative forcing effect of sulphate aerosols?
Sure, I might need to go back through my atmospheric chemistry and environment notes to answer these in full. In fact, I think these questions are very much on the simple end that only scratch at the complexities of climate science. They certainly don’t go into detail of modern approaches to climate modelling. But then again, I never claimed to be a practising climatologist nor anyone capable of overruling the scientific consensus of people who study this stuff for a living. I know enough to know that I don’t know enough. I can hold a conversation with an expert on this subject, but I can’t quite override her on it.
But if you think you’re qualified enough to have an opinion that can override an expert, then surely these should be easy for you. Right?