Skepticism

The infernal rattling of the rain still remains

Last week I was on a sunny beach in Maine, walking barefoot over pointy rocks in the water. Today, I’m huddled in my freezing apartment trying to stay warm while rain floods the sidewalks outside. It’s been raining all week, and apparently it’s only getting worse. I’ll blame global warming, because that appears to be the common complaint every time somebody doesn’t like the weather.

The global warming debate has been a heated (I swear that pun was unavoidable) one for a while now as scientists, politicians, and everybody who has noticed a helluva lot of crappy weather try to figure out 1.) if the temperatures are rising at a dramatic clip, 2.) if people are causing it, and 3.) if we should worry about it. For those of us lacking degrees in meteorology, it can be a tough call but an interesting fight to watch. Each side has its well-reasoned points (for a decent overview, see this site), and each side also has its outspoken wackos. One of my faves is Michael Crichton, an author I used to absolutely love when I was eleven and he was putting out stuff like Sphere and Jurassic Park. Then he started with the crap, like Disclosure, Jurassic Park II: The Thinly Veiled Movie Script, and recently the “eco-thriller” State of Fear.

State of Fear rests on a simple and straightforward plot: environmentalists want to fool the world into believing that global warming exists when it really doesn’t, so they plan massive terrorist attacks designed to look like the result of fluctuating temperatures, like causing tsunamis. Don’t scoff — I know an environmentalist who did nearly that same exact thing last year in Thailand.

For a very funny review of State of Fear, check out Chris Mooney’s article for CSICOP in which he describes the book as “porn for global warming deniers.”

And, to hear Crichton talk about global warming to a house full of scientists and skeptics (!), sign up for The Environmental Wars, Skeptic’s conference at Cal Tech coming up in June. Crichton won’t be the only one there — also lecturing will be people on both sides of the issue who actually know what they’re talking about. But, Crichton is very likely to be the most entertaining as he appears to be holding on to some sort of bitter rage against skeptics. Plus, Chris Mooney will be there, and if you’re lucky, they may just get into a slap fight. How great would that be? Crichton is feisty, but I’m betting on Mooney for sheer power of snark.

Sign up now!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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5 Comments

  1. I've never figured out why people say we have to prove that humans are causing global warming to make cutting down on pollution a good thing. So what if we're not causing global warming. Don't you still want clean air to breath? I just don't get it. Well, I do, it's pure greed. My husband always has to remind me that everything is about money.

  2. I really don't like the way that the website you cited uses "skeptic" to mean people who are in denial of the data. >:(

    but, as a "believer" (also a troubling term….), I am not unbiased. I've seen too much entomology data showing shifts in distribution to not think something's up.

    Try DLESE's pick: http://climatechange.unep.net/index.cfm

    DLESE is a peer reviewed and built site for educators, and is one of the main pieces of the national science digital library. I highly recommend it! :)

  3. "Don’t scoff — I know an environmentalist who did nearly that same exact thing last year in Thailand."

    WTF??? Explain yourself, woman.

  4. You'll notice of course, that despite all the money that the Skeptics Society decided to spend to bring these people together, they didn't manage to get a single climate scientist.

    Oh, and bug_girl, no skeptic would deny data, as long as that data has good provenance. Benveniste produced data, Pons and Fleischmann produced data. Data is not sufficient, in and of itself, to prove anything. That's why experiments should be audited and replicated.

    There is no doubt that the world has warmed since the maximum of the Little Ice Age in the early 17th Century. There is also no doubt that changes in land use, emissions of carbon dioxide and methane which are man-made must have an effect on climate. The questions are how much? how good or bad is it? What can we do about it? Should we do something about it?

    At the moment, even those basic questions cannot be answered with scientific rigor. Instead we have "consensus science" whatever that is, we have expressions of confidence as if that mattered, but we don't have answers, because there is no theory of climate. No wonder its a hothouse of politics, because there aren't enough facts. There are plenty of opinions, but opinions are like assholes….

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