I recently came upon a global warming “test” purporting to put forth the “real science” on the issue. My first warning that this quiz was far from an objective reading on the science of climate change was right there on page one with this warning:
“Caution: This section contains sound science, not media hype, and may therefore contain material not suitable for young people trying to get a good grade in political correctness.”
Political correctness? Who mentioned anything about political correctness? Isn’t this a scientific issue? So how about scientific correctness?
By framing certain questions in the classic “so, have you stopped beating your wife yet?” (where it is impossible to give the correct answer) this “test” proceeds to trot out the same tired old arguments including “water vapor is the biggest source of global warming” (yes, naturally – hmmm…) and all the rest that we’ve heard before that just doesn’t stand up when the total scientific and empirical picture is taken into account. Yes, even Al Gore is on the test.
It is the typical mixture of cherry-picking some scientific data, completely misunderstanding other scientific data (whether deliberately or through ignorance is unclear), and a blatant political agenda set forth in a “quiz” format in an attempt to make it appear that it presents a valid picture of the current understanding of climate change.
One of the problems is that it is already dated. These “arguments” fail, for the most part, to take into account the rapidly changing climate we are witnessing around us: unprecedented Arctic ice melt, rapidly changing ecosystems in the north (and all over the world), continued shrinking of the world’s glaciers, rising sea levels, increased drought worldwide, and a sudden and unexpected spike in atmospheric levels of CO2 (just announced within the past month).
It is, in fact, true that much of the climate modeler’s projections are wrong. Just not wrong in the “right” way. Many of these projections, especially the ice melt and other effects observed in the north, are occurring much faster than expected.
This “test” just doesn’t keep up with the “action on the ground” and seems hackneyed and misleading at best.
And now with George W. Bush’s rhetorical stance on global warming changing, it also appears as if the underlying political agenda in this “test” is increasingly left out in the, well, cold, so to speak. Not that we expect any substantive action from the Bush White House on climate change, but even the president acknowledges the problem and source of rapidly accelerating climate change.
It’s time for these people to update their “test”. Perhaps better would be to abandon it entirely.
To me, it’s just a little insidious how this is framed as a test and offered, at least by some, as a learning tool toward the younger generations.
I turn 49 years old later this week (a young 49 I’m telling myself), and if I am still around mid-century, I’ll be an old man with not so many years left. It is the younger generations that will have to deal with the full consequential brunt of our action – or inaction – from this day forth.
This is not alarmism. It is realism. It is attempting to muster the moral and intellectual courage to see what is before us and take positive action to fix it as best we possibly can. To frame it as a human issue and not as a small-minded political stance.
This is the real test, if we care to take it.
Sources and Further Reading:
Check the sad, pathetic little test out for yourself.
How to talk to a global warming “skeptic”: the best source in one place from our friends at Grist.