The global warming freight train

The LA Times editorializes:

recent figures released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that global land and ocean surface temperatures in June were the highest since record-keeping began in 1880. What’s more, the first half of 2010 was the hottest such period ever recorded, and Arctic sea ice melted at a record-setting pace in June.

The heat can probably be attributed at least in part to periodic and entirely natural changes in ocean temperatures and surface air pressure — the El Niño/La Niña phenomena most likely played a role. But the fact that peak years are getting hotter while even relatively “cool” years now tend to remain above historical averages (the 10 warmest years on record all occurred within the last 15 years, according to the NOAA) shows that something else is at work….

For us, it’s not a difficult decision which side to believe: scientists who directly observe and measure climate changes and whose accuracy is rigorously tested by their peers, or pundits with little knowledge of climate science whose views are informed by a long-held resentment of environmentalists and government regulation. Yet the latter group, working hand in hand with big energy companies that profit from the filthy status quo, have injected enough doubt into the national debate to paralyze Congress… and confuse the public, who in recent polls are increasingly inclined to believe that the threat of climate change has been exaggerated.

Though scientists have warned us for years that the train is coming at us fast — accelerating, even — many non-scientists say they can’t see the train or that the tiny speck on the horizon can’t possibly hurt us. And they reject science in favor of their untrained intuition.

How (bitterly) ironic it will be if humanity’s scientific creations destroy our environment even as humans fail — for decades — to trust scientific findings telling us our creations are destroying our planet. Perhaps some alien will discover our dead little planet some day and write a dissertation on our species' inability to stop polluting, despite knowing we were killing ourselves.

We believe in science when we want to heal our sick baby or know whether it will rain today. But when scientists tell us how to save (from ourselves) the Earth that sustains us: they’re witch doctors practicing voodoo.

Posted by James on Thursday, July 22, 2010