The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science. The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”
In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,”There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”
Does this mean anthropogenic global warming is a fraud? Of course not. It just means that those who tell you with supreme confidence that there is only one side to the issue are wrong.
I stand by my usual position that, while we shouldn’t crater our economy to respond to the possibility that we are causing global warming, we should treat the possibility seriously. First, pollution is ugly anyway; look at L.A.’s atmosphere. Second, if the danger is real, it’s a very significant danger.
I think there is an interesting parallel here with terrorism.
We don’t really know how likely it is that a group of terrorists are going to obtain and set off a nuclear bomb. People on either side like to pretend that they can tell you, but they really can’t. But if it happened, it would be catastrophic, so we should do everything within our power, within reason, to prevent it. Most conservatives agree, while most liberals tend to shrug off the issue as fearmongering by Republicans.
I feel the same about global warming.
We don’t really know how likely it is that we are throwing off the balance on our planet and causing it to become overheated. People on either side like to pretend that they can tell you, but they really can’t. But if it happens, it will be catastrophic, so we should do everything within our power, within reason, to prevent it. Most liberals agree, while most conservatives tend to shrug off the issue as fearmongering by Democrats.
Each of you is completely right. Your pet issue is the real danger, while the other side’s pet issue is a joke. Discuss.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey says only a subgroup has changed its mind. That sounds at odds with the DailyTech.com quote, but maybe I’m missing something. I’m off to work; you guys sort it out.
UPDATE x2: My apologies for having a day job! It’s taken me some time to get back to this. Further perusal seems to reveal that the DailyTech.com piece was just flatly wrong in its central assertion: that the group itself has reversed its stance. The piece now ends with this update:
After publication of this story, the APS responded with a statement that its Physics and Society Forum is merely one unit within the APS, and its views do not reflect those of the Society at large.
I wonder how they got this so wrong. It appears they found the posting but didn’t realize that the group that made the posting was merely a subgroup of the main group. But I don’t think even that explains it.
Meanwhile, my initial update (popped up before I walked out the door) is, I think, also wrong, as the subgroup doesn’t seem to have changed its mind. It just differs from the conclusions of the main group — at least in the sense of recognizing that there is a debate out there. (That doesn’t mean it recognizes one side as credible, however.)
My bottom line remains the same: those who tell you with supreme confidence that there is only one side to the issue are wrong. Then again, supreme confidence is often a bad idea with science; the whole idea is to keep an open mind (but not so open that you’re ignoring the evidence).
I still think that the evidence is strong enough that we may as well take the threat seriously.