A Primer on Global Warming and Climate Change

Chances are you’ve heard some men­tion in the media or among gov­ern­ment in recent years about the top­ics of glob­al warm­ing, extreme weath­er, or cli­mate change. I won’t do sci­en­tists the indig­ni­ty of con­sid­er­ing the mat­ter a ‘debate’ much less use this word, because it would imply we’re still at the stage of try­ing to see if the meter swings one way or the oth­er on this impor­tant issue. No, much to the sur­prise of many, sci­ence has devel­oped itself exten­sive­ly and spo­ken in great cer­tain­ty: there is no longer any debate, and glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate change are both real and caused by humans.

So if there’s one post you peek at on the sub­ject today, let it be this one.

I’m going to high­light two major areas rel­e­vant to our cur­rent types of media expo­sure: the first will show you, via inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fi­able evi­dence, why any notion of the media hav­ing a ‘debate’ over glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate change is kind of sil­ly, and the sec­ond will link you direct­ly to the world­wide resource we’ve been using to dis­sem­i­nate the data and results of evi­dence-based stud­ies on such top­ics as well as help form gov­ern­men­tal atti­tudes and pol­i­cy making.

The thin wedge of denial — in 2012, a review of all peer-reviewed schol­ar­ly arti­cles yield­ed 13,950 sci­en­tif­ic papers on glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate change, of which only 24 sup­port­ed denial. The oth­er 13,926 sup­port world­wide agree­ment that glob­al warm­ing and cli­mate change exist and are demon­stra­bly caused by human activity.

Any mate­ri­als we dis­sem­i­nate using major cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions tools such as radio and TV lever­ages a strong force that shapes pub­lic opin­ion. This has long been a known phe­nom­e­non and forms the back­bone of the rea­son why it’s a poor choice to give air­time or spend print space on non-ratio­nal skep­ti­cism. It’s lit­er­al­ly try­ing to reopen debate on some­thing that’s long since been settled.

There’s a siz­able gap between the lev­el of agree­ment in the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty ver­sus the gen­er­al pub­lic when it comes to under­stand­ing the key issues, which is why it’s all the more impor­tant to con­tin­ue to raise aware­ness on the seri­ous­ness of glob­al warm­ing and its effects. We must not only have a con­ver­sa­tion about the risks they bring but also be mind­ful to share the sci­ence behind how we’ve arrived at this con­clu­sion, and in par­tic­u­lar, we must make its resul­tant body of knowl­edge more read­i­ly acces­si­ble to all, par­tic­u­lar­ly for those of us who don’t come from a tech­ni­cal back­ground or a high­ly spe­cial­ized indus­tri­al trade or sci­en­tif­ic profession.

This stuff can prove an extra­or­di­nar­i­ly dif­fi­cult read for most peo­ple, and key to the need to fix sci­ence’s PR prob­lem is to speak the lan­guage of under­stand­ing. Artis­tic inter­pre­ta­tion, info­graph­ics, con­densed fact sheets, arti­cle briefs, pub­lic ser­vice ads, Youtube videos, and oth­er such tools go a long way toward appeal­ing to peo­ples’ diverse atten­tion spans, espe­cial­ly in the media heavy and infor­ma­tion dri­ven cul­ture of today in which we’re utter­ly immersed.

Web­site of IPCC — a world­wide body through which cli­mate sci­ence is being advanced, infor­ma­tion is being shared between gov­ern­ments, and new advice and solu­tions on envi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy are brought forward.

This site is pret­ty much the gold stan­dard for the state of cli­mate research and gov­ern­men­tal direc­tion. Reports are bro­ken down in sev­er­al ways, with direct access to doc­u­ments, graph­ics, and oth­er materials.

So that’s it for now, in a fair­ly large nutshell.

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