Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Global Warming/Climate Change: Objective or Subjective?

Is your current understanding of global warming and climate change subjective or objective? Let's first look at the meanings of those words. I would argue that the belief that man is causing global warming and supposedly associated climate change, is based primarily on subjective reasoning. That is certainly how it comes across in the mainstream media, and in presentations like Al Gore's film and book "An Inconvenient Truth". Their science is inaccurate, sensationalized, and their presentations play on our emotions. These stories fit perfectly the definition of being subjective.

On the other hand, scientists and others who are skeptical or completely in disagreement with the concept of man-caused global warming, are being objective in their analysis. They look at past climate history which clearly shows multiple, cyclical, warming and cooling periods. They show that past changes in climate correlate with changes in energy received by the sun and not with increases in carbon dioxide or other "greenhouse gases". In other words, they are basing their conclusions on measurable facts and observations.

Surely I have over-simplified this issue, but in general I trust my conclusion. The next question is do we, mankind, trust our feelings and intuition about something as important as global warming, or do we lean toward the facts and reason? Do you trust your intuition (or someone else's), or do you trust what can actually be measured and seen?

the following definitions are from: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/objective

objective (comparative more objective, superlative most objective)
Of or relating to a material object, actual existence or reality.
Not influenced by the emotions or prejudices.
Based on observed facts.

and from: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/subjective

subjective Formed, as in opinions, based upon subjective feelings or intuition, not upon observation or reasoning, which can be influenced by preconception; coming more from within the observer rather than from observations of the external environment.

Resulting from or pertaining to personal mindsets or experience, arising from perceptive mental conditions within the brain and not necessarily from external stimuli.
Lacking in reality or substance.
As used by Carl Jung the innate worldview orientation of the introverted personality types.
(philosophy) and (psychology) Experienced by a person mentally and not directly verifiable by others


Anonymous said...

Firstly, the science of climate change is never objective. There is always political, social or economic interest. Certainly "An Inconvenient Truth" is a sensationalized and dramatised account of the future implications of climate change.

But have a read of the Summary for Policy Makers published by the IPCC in 2007. This is the collaborative work of over 2500 scientists from over 130 countries, and this is based entirely on "measurable facts and observations" of increasing and unprecedented greenhouse gase emmisions and increasing and unprecedented temperature increases. That's about the most objective account of the "measurable" climate change you talk about.

As well, I suggest you have a look at some of the support climate 'sceptics' receive from “entities explicitly opposed to measures proposed to counter climate change" (Oberthür & Ott 1999, pp.10.) For example, Professor Richard Lindzen, scientist and leading scpetic of cliamte change, receives support from Western Fuels Association

Anonymous said...

sorry i forgot to add that the IPCC summary was based on observations of greenhouse gas emmissions and temperature increases from pre-industrial times up to 2005

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