SkS Analogy 8 - I'll take the specialist

Tag Line

I’ll take the specialist, please.

Elevator Statement

Your child has an eye injury and needs a doctor. Who are you going to call?

A Ph.D. in chemistry? No, you need a medical doctor.
A family-practice medical doctor? No, you need an eye doctor.
Any eye doctor? No, you need an eye doctor who does surgery.
Any eye surgeon? No, an experienced eye surgeon.

Because this is your child’s eye, you decide to take your child to two, experienced eye surgeons to make sure they agree on the course of action. You want consensus from at least two recognized experts in their field of specialty before messing with something as precious as the eye of your child. You care about your child and are using common sense.

Climate Science

You’ve heard that there is a global emergency on the planet on which your child is living, which is getting more and more severe, has already reached critical levels for some, and is increasingly threatening the lives of more and more people. You are concerned about the future your child faces, you want to get the facts, want to learn how to respond, and how to prepare. You want to know if this hype surrounding global warming, climate change, and ocean acidification is fact or fiction.

How will you get the facts? A lot of your friends have said they’ve “read this”, “seen that”, or “heard something else.” In the age of the Internet, you can find passionate views on all sides of any topic. Who do you believe?

There is a petition of over 30,000 “scientists” (the requirement is that the signatories have some kind of science-related degree) in the US who say that global warming is not a problem. 30,000 sounds like a lot, but actually this represents only about 0.3% of the people in the US who qualify to sign this petition, and they do not need to be studying climate science.

Would you trust the opinion of any 10 "doctors" to recommend the eye surgery needed for your child if they were a mixture of gynecologists, orthopedic surgeons, general practitioners, and chemical engineers with Ph.D.s? You would probably prefer to rely on the opinion of just 2 or maybe 3 qualified, experienced, eye surgeons.

So if this is how you approach the care of your child’s eye, why not use the same approach for the care of your child’s entire life, and the life of others on Earth you care about. Let’s see what real experts are saying.

We’ve all heard of Albert Einstein. In his day he was a geeky rock star with his theory of relativity, E=MC2, stretchy fabric of space with planets and stars warping here and there. He belonged to an exclusive group of people called the US National Academy of Sciences, which was set up by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to advise the US Congress on matters of science. These are the Top Guns of the scientific community, and include many of the people responsible for the scientific miracles that we take for granted, like cell phones, computers, implantable medical devices, etc. They are the cream of the crop, individuals who think outside the box, challenge traditional thinking, and create scientific miracles that have transformed society. Periodically this group of Top Gun scientists put out publications on matters of interest to let us know what the consensus view is of the top scientists in the US. So let’s see what they say about global warming, climate change, and ocean acidification. The National Academy of Sciences published a book that you can download for free, called “Climate Change, Evidence & Causes.” Here are a couple of excerpts. When reading the following, substitute “over the coming century” with “in the lifetime of your children and grand-children.”

How confident are scientists that Earth will warm further over the coming century?
Very confident. If emissions continue on their present trajectory, without either technological or regulatory abatement, then warming of 2.6 to 4.8 °C (4.7 to 8.6 °F) in addition to that which has already occurred would be expected by the end of the 21st century.

Are climate changes of a few degrees a cause for concern?
Yes. Even though an increase of a few degrees in global average temperature does not sound like much, global average temperature during the last ice age was only about 4 to 5°C (7 to 9°F) colder than now. Global warming of just a few degrees will be associated with widespread changes in regional and local temperature and precipitation as well as with increases in some types of extreme weather events. These and other changes (such as sea level rise and storm surge) will have serious impacts on human societies and the natural world.

So who will you trust? 0.3% of Americans with some kind of science degree, or the Top Guns of the US science community?

Although the US NAS includes both climate and non-climate scientists, a separate study found that over 97% of current, practicing climate scientists endorse the consensus position of the US National Academy of Sciences.

In addition, the science academies from over 80 countries as well as the Vatican (Pontifical Academy of Science) endorse this position.

Humans are causing global warming, the problem is caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, mainly CO2, global warming is creating huge stresses on society that may cause irreversible degradation to our way of life, and the only sure way to stop the damage is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases to near zero.

The scientific evidence for CO2-induced warming dates from the 1800’s, the evidence is monumental, and yet the US Republican party continues to insist their own National Science Foundation is wrong. Perhaps the reason for their resistance to accepting the science can be summed up as follows.

Regarding global warming, a leading US Senator said “Do you realize I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee [Environment and Public Works Committee] and I first heard about this, I thought it [referring to global warming] must be true, until I found out what it cost.” (See the Rachael Maddow show, about 4 minutes into an interview with Senator James Inhofe).

What does the cost of mitigation have to do with the accuracy of the diagnosis by the US National Science Foundation?

Typically a medical doctor will provide a diagnosis followed by multiple options for treatment. We don’t reject the diagnosis if the recommended treatment is expensive, but we might be forced to choose a treatment plan that fits our budget.

Doctors typically provide multiple options for treatment, and with global warming as well, we have multiple mitigation options. But failure to act is not one of the options. Taking action on Global Warming will be painful for us, but will mean a brighter future for our children. Failure to act will simply allow the problem to grow, shifting more of the burden and the pain to our children’s generation.

Acting now will mean a brighter future for our children.

Download the US National Academy of Sciences book called Climate Change, Evidence & Causes.”, read it, and make sure your children read it as well. This is an issue that is just as important as their immediate health ... it is about their future health.

Posted by Evan on Thursday, 15 June, 2017

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