Why man-made global warming is still debated

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Panic and scandal sell. They sell advertising. They sell policies. They prompt knee-jerk reactions. They prompt the voicing of opposing points of view. They prompt arguments on social media by people who fully buy into one side or the other, often without being open-minded enough to actually listen to the side they disagree with. Yesterday, a new report sounded the alarm again about man-made global warming. It also prompted reactive posts from the scientists who question the data used in it.

But only one side really made the headlines in the local and national news.

CO2 ppm

From Climate.gov:
The bright red line (source data) shows monthly average carbon dioxide at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawai’i in parts per million (ppm): the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million molecules of dry air. Over the course of the year, values are higher in Northern Hemisphere winter and lower in summer. The dark red line shows the annual trend, calculated as a 12-month rolling average.

I’ve written before about the need for scientists (and the general public) to weigh all the evidence, even the evidence that doesn’t necessarily support their personal viewpoints. I learned in tenth grade debate class the best way to understand a topic is to be able to argue both sides. Once you do, you realize just how complex most topics are and that the truth is often found somewhere in the middle.

The stark news was everywhere yesterday.

From CNN:
Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn

From The Guardian:
We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN

From BBC:
Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’


What most people won’t see or take the time to read is the news from the other side of the debate:

From climate scientist Judith Curry:
1.5 degrees

From science presenter JoNova:
#DataGate! First ever audit of global temperature data finds freezing tropical islands, boiling towns, boats on land

From meteorologist Anthony Watts:
The ever receding climate goalpost: IPCC and Al Gore “12 years to save the planet” (again)

At this point some of you might be saying, “Oh, Judith Curry. She’s a luke-warmer,” or “Anthony Watts – he’s famous for being a climate skeptic.” Well, that’s my point. I read both sides, and I challenge my readers to do the same. Why? Because I miss the days of presenting both sides of a story and allowing people to think for themselves.

Where do I stand? You could say I’m the old soul on the sidelines watching things play out and hoping for smart decisions to be made for everyone involved. I’m wondering why it took so long to answer the questions I’ve had for years about the quality of the data from the early decades included in all of these climate reports. I’m also recycling, using LED light bulbs, driving a little economy car, and watering my garden with rainwater from two rain barrels. I’m not condemning those people around the world who can only afford cheap and easily accessible energy sources. I’m not panicking.