World leaders are meeting for the next week or so in Paris to discuss ways in which the major countries around the globe can reduce carbon emissions in hopes of warding off catastrophic effects from global warming. How serious this problem is has become a topic of “heated” debate in this country, just like almost everything else, from Starbucks holiday coffee cups to Syrian refugees coming to America. A handful of scientists (about 3% worldwide) are not convinced that the current climate changes we are experiencing are caused by human activity, which is all the evidence needed to call the whole idea a scam by a growing minority of people in this country who completely distrust any message coming from the federal government or the research of individuals, institutions, agencies, and organizations funded by federal tax dollars. They are convinced that restrictions imposed by governments due to climate change will result in onerous taxes, economic ruin, burdensome regulations, dictatorial bureaucrats, and higher energy costs.
It would appear that the denial of climate change issues has moved into the realm of conspiracy theory. Some of my friends argue that scientists are lying and falsifying data to appeal to liberal policy makers who pay them and who seek even further control over our lives and property. They point to the changes in terminology — moving away from phrases like global warming and toward phrases like climate change — as an indication that the science is not solid and that climatologists are not to be trusted. Here’s a flash. What we are seeing around the planet IS global warming, but we have folks who can’t understand that global warming is NOT a term to describe weather. There is a difference between climate and weather, so the vocabulary was modified in an attempt to increase understanding about the problem, which obviously failed.
Frankly, I don’t feel qualified to speak too much about climate change from a scientific standpoint, so I have to trust the consensus of opinion of the majority of climatologists around the world, just like I feel compelled to trust the vast majority of doctors who believe immunization is more helpful than harmful. I could list many other examples. I can remember a time when conservatives thought that recycling was a trick on dumb liberals, that is, until they discovered there is plenty of money to be made in the recycling business. Then it became desirable. I suspect we will eventually see this same pattern evolve with the reduction of carbon emissions, sustainable energy sources, and other similar initiatives. I believe in being skeptical, but skepticism on the level of global scientific opinion of such a large majority seems unreasonable.