Holly Lisle posted about a link to an article on the recent global warming data blunder, and her take on it.
There are actually four separate questions to global warming: 1. Are world temperatures rising? 2. Are humans causing it? 3. Can we do anything to stop it? 4. Should we do anything to stop it?
First, you have to get past #1, which you can, because we have indeed measured a gradual increase in temperature over the past 100 years or so. This is not a steady rise, year after year. It is a long-term trend, like the stock market, 2 steps forward, 1 step back.
But even if one gets past #1, that doesn’t imply #2, which is where many advocates go awry, because science simply can’t tell us the answer. And #2 doesn’t imply #3. And #3 doesn’t imply #4. On this last, if we could do something to stop it, that doesn’t mean we ought to. So what if the waters rise? A Cato Institute paper, for example, pointed out that it would be cheaper to move all ocean-front houses 100 miles in-land than to try to reduce CO2 emissions enough to make a difference.
The “global climate crisis,” as I understand it, comes from the fact that some people fear that global warming will bring upon a new ice age. (Plus, it has the word “crisis” in it, which tends to make ordinary voters act stupid, so that’s always a plus.) It may or may not be a crazy theory. What I do know is that it is pure speculation. Now, if you want to run around shouting about the world coming to an end, that would be one thing. But I choose to do something more constructive.
Anyhow, some evidence suggests that global temperature is largely out of our control, because humans only have a small (if any) effect on it. Most global temperature change is caused by natural causes such as the sun shining. So unless you have a grand plan to block out the sun in order to reduce global temperature, we should probably redirect our efforts toward adapting, rather than panicking.
P.S. A more level-headed (less sexy) article on Scientific American gives a more circumspect view of the so-called data blunder.