Writing at Big Think, David Berreby laments the simple fact that people who are more knowledgeable about science are more likely to be climate change skeptics than they are to be global warming believers. Berreby takes as an article of faith that rising sea levels are a real-time threat to coastal dwellers the world over. Um, no they’re not.
I note that Berreby’s entire article, which posits a relationship between how people respond to climate change and their political philosophy, contains not a single scientific fact. I was a lifelong confirmed lefty when I became a climate change skeptic, and it is my new understanding of the science that has produced a political change in me (toward the right) rather than the other way around. The moral high ground presumed by Mr. Berreby is imaginary, by the way, as I write about here.
Getting back to that paucity of facts, does Berreby know that this moment in Earth’s climate history is not particularly warm? Does he know that the current interglacial is the coolest of the last four? Does he know that sea level was 15 feet higher during the interglacial immediately prior to this one? Does he know that forest rose all the way to the Arctic coastline in northern Siberia 7,000 years ago? Does he know that temperature on Earth routinely undergoes fluctuations of the same magnitude that we’ve seen in the last 150 years? Does he know that Antarctic sea ice has risen during the entire period of satellite measurement that began in 1979? Does he know that the South Pole temperature recording station has shown cooling for the same time period? Does he know that the Little Ice Age, from which the planet has been rebounding temperature-wise since about 1850 was no picnic for humankind? Does he know that historically warm periods are benevolent and cold periods not?
If he reads my book, he’ll know all of these things.
Berreby makes a big point of discussing how important it is not to turn one’s intellectual opponents into strawmen, and then proceeds to strive to turn climate skeptics into strawmen himself. Another fruit of reading my book: he’ll be in a position to know what climate skeptics, as real as he is, actually know.