Climate change change

Today I reviewed what Mike Mann had said in class about the evidence that climate change is real and mostly due to humans. Then I re-did the poll I took before Mike came to class. Last week, 39% of the students (n= 152 respondents) either didn’t know or disagreed with the statement The earth is warming mostly due to human activity. Today, it was 16% (n=132 respondents). So I guess that’s progress.

But that prompted some scary stuff on the comment wall:

There are bigger issues going on in the world that need our immediate attention. War, violence, the economy.
Climate change isn’t happening because humans are not superior to god’s will.
Climate scientists are going to hell because they are saying humans are superior to god’s will.
Everything that happens with global warming is due to nature and god, not humans. God is superior to us and determines what happens to earth.
I know global warming is fake because my uncle is a republican congressman and says so.

It’s always a little tricky to tell the comedy from the reality.

More constructively, I had a really good idea for a teachable moment. Following Mike Mann’s forceful presentation last class, I polled the class today:

132 respondents

132 respondents

And that gave me the opening to say that among the 100-500 climate or climate-related scientists on campus (a guess, based on estimating the post-docs and grad students as well as faculty), there was not one….NOT ONE… who would disagree with Mike’s summary of the evidence that climate change is happening and largely man made. That’s the extent of consensus on this. If I wanted to find a climate denier, I’d have to hunt among the non-scientists on campus, and even then probably only among the politically motivated. I pointed out that when TV news does balance, it’s not balance in any real sense. Just a scientist and some talking head. It looks 50:50 but that’s an incorrect impression.

I also used it as a moment to to say that if any of those 100-500 Penn State scientists could convincingly show that climate change was not happening or not man made (or a Chinese invention), that scientist would be famous. That’s why we can be pretty confident when they all agree. Everyone is trying to take down everyone else’s science.  When it stays standing, we have to start to think it might be right.

Well I thought it was a good teachable moment….

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