I was driving to work this morning with Cindy in the passenger seat next to me. I don’t know who she was referring to when she said, “it annoys me that he doesn’t believe in climate change.”
I found myself responding, “I don’t believe in climate change either.” Then I stopped to consider whether that’s really true.
Yeah, I just don’t believe in it. How could anyone believe in it. It’s not something that warrants belief. The human-caused climate change hypothesis simply reflects a scientific consensus. The balance of evidence, as judged by the significant majority of experts in the field, seems to be that human activity has been causing climate change and, unchecked, that it will cause further climate change. That continued climate change will be catastrophic for life on Earth. Where is the need for any kind of belief in that?
It’s not a black-and-white thing. It’s not true or false. It’s an issue with a large amount of data that has been parsed and statistically analyzed producing a complex, nuanced, and constantly shifting set of conclusions and recommendations. There’s no room anywhere in that for black-and-white beliefs.
This hypothesis, the evidence gathered in relation to it, and the consensus opinion of the wisest next-steps given our best guesses of statistical probabilities is simply what is. On balance, I trust the scientific endeavor and the conscientiousness of the scientific community. If the recommended action is to reduce carbon emissions, for example, then as a trusted servant-leader, I would take that advice and simply execute on it effectively and quickly. And this is what pretty much all leaders worldwide have been doing and are doing; of course they are.
I think that framing the climate change issue as one of belief plays a game that is degrading to science; science is not a religion. When the religious right claims that it doesn’t believe in climate change, the adult response is simply, “it’s your right to believe anything you choose but we don’t set policy based on beliefs; we set policy based on the balance of evidence.”
The religious left is what elevates the discussion into an argument about beliefs. Those who worship at the altar of Scientism say, “you must believe in this!” and allow the conversation to be transformed into an argument about beliefs. When two religions with opposing beliefs enter into a battle to determine what is the “right” belief, the battle can never end. All we get is a never-ending gridlock of two opposing religions.
Climate change is simply a scientific policy matter. It has nothing to do with religion.
Update: “They said confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a ‘five-sigma’ level.”