Knowing better than the experts

When an editor promoted my recent post on this blog, “Who doubts global warming?” I was honored but also nervous. I had seen many times what happens when this issue gets the attention of the Internet. Sure enough, on came a wave of comments totally dismissive of what I had to say, and sometimes nastily so.

Here is a sample:

Please. Stop this nonsense. The entire AGW movement has become a dogma that is entirely anti-science in nature.

Did you ever hear the joke [sic] “Eat [feces], 10 trillion flies can’t be wrong?” [sic]

Rafi may have graduated with a degree in the sciences, but I suspect given his inclination to cite the “experts” he has not read or seriously considered any of the original articles.

The eagerness […] to push a political agenda (and yes, before you protest, it is manifestly and almost exclusively political) is what makes those of us in the reality-based community suspicious even of the underlying claims of “facts.”

Global warming is a hoax!

By any and all criteria, global warming IS a religion. It is probably closest to Christianity, I’d say, since its claims are about as scientifically credible as the Resurrection.

What astounds me is the certainty of these people in rejecting global warming. None of them have a background in science. I would be surprised, for example, if any of them have even heard of the term “radiative forcing,” the most fundamental concept in the physics of climate change.

The post that I wrote explored the large gap between public opinion on climate change and scientific understanding of climate change. But these vulgar comments raise another question: Why are so many non-experts so certain in their dismissal of the experts?

I’m not going to speculate about explanations here. I just want to appreciate how shocking and dangerous this dismissal is.

Imagine the following scenario.

A five-year-old girl suffers from severe asthma. Her father takes her to a panel of the top pediatricians in the country. The doctors unanimously agree that the cause of the girl’s suffering is her father’s smoking habit. They tell the father that he must immediately stop smoking inside the house, because every breath of second-hand smoke inhaled by his daughter increases her already-high risk for unspeakable diseases later in life.

Now imagine that the father responds to the doctors, “Please. Stop this nonsense. I can see through your anti-smoking agenda. My daughter takes thousands of breaths of air a day—you think a few puffs of smoke are going to hurt her? Little girls get sick, it’s natural.”

What an outrage that would be!

The outrage here is no different—actually, it’s worse, because so much more is at stake than one little girl.

Every top authority relevant to climate science, including every major scientific organization in the world, warns that human suffering thanks to global warming is already here, and that much greater suffering is already in the pipeline. The longer we delay in taking action, the worse the impacts will be. You can read these warnings on the websites of NASA, NOAA, AMS, NAS, AGU, ACS, APS, and many others.

I think you would be crazy to dismiss the authority of these organizations. The greatness of science is that every claim must be empirically verifiable. The expert consensus is so strong because the results showing anthropogenic global warming have been verified again and again. This consensus formed during the 1990s, and since then the experts’ confidence level has grown from “likely” at that time to “highly likely” in the 2000s to “unequivocal” in the 2010s. You can read about that history here.

Remember, this is the Internet era. The evidence is easily accessible from any computer, whether at a beginner’s level (examples: 1, 2, 3), an intermediate level (examples: 1, 2, 3), or an advanced level (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4). And the debate on websites such as The Times of Israel over whether to accept the science will be saved for posterity. Everything is on record, and history will judge who was right and who was wrong.

I am highly confident that history will vindicate the science. Those who cling to willful ignorance make a grave, costly, irrational mistake.

I hope they open their minds sooner rather than later.

Note: Anyone interested in a rational discussion, please, I am eager to discuss your doubts about climate science. Please ask your questions below or email me at We need to understand what is happening to our planet.

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