In some recently leaked e-mails, scientists studying global warming said they wanted to hide concerns they had about some of their data away from public view. And they discussed ways to stop articles by global warming skeptics from appearing in scientific journals.
The scientists acted like idiots or, probably more accurately, like brilliant-but-immature children. They deserve to be reprimanded or in some cases fired for their stupidity.
But gleeful global warming deniers showed themselves to be at least as childish as the scientists when they pounced on the e-mails as proof that global warming doesn't exist. "See?" they proclaimed. "That proves it. They made it all up!"
There's really only one way to doubt the scientific evidence that global warming is real and much of it is man made. You have to believe the idea of global warming is based on a few cherry-picked morsels of data held together by flimsy theoretical spider threads. If the evidence really was that weak, the leaked e-mails would blow the whole thing to pieces.
The fact is, though, mountains of data support the idea that the planet is warming rapidly. And the vast majority of scientists agree, our dependence on fossil fuels is a major component of the warming.
Unfortunately, though, science is not an exact science. It would be much easier for everyone if the workings of the world could be broken into clear, easy-to-understand nuggets of information, and scientists could give us simple explanations for the way things work. But that's never going to happen. Doubt is a necessary component of scientific understanding and progress. Data and conclusions are forever being disputed, studied and corrected, then disputed, studied and corrected again. That's what scientists do. And that's why we know so much more about the world now than we did 500 years ago, or even 50 years ago.
The study of global warming has to consider billions of bits of data from around the world – and throughout the history of the planet — and bring them all together by interweaving a multitude of scientific disciplines. It's a phenomenally complex endeavor. It would be more convenient if climate studies fit neatly into straight line graphs. Unfortunately, they don't.
That's why it's easy for global warming deniers to harp on inconsistencies in the data and jump to the conclusion that scientists are conspiring to mislead us. And what a nice thing that would be. Then we wouldn't have to worry about all those pesky problems like melting glaciers, rising ocean levels and climactic shifts that could create catastrophes on an almost unimaginable scale by the end of the century.
Unfortunately, shutting our eyes and plugging our ears won't make this thing go away.
So let me give the deniers a different scientific theory to attack so others can focus on slowing down the ravages of global warming. Here's a theory for them to dismiss, one that has confounded our greatest minds and still is only partially understood. Gravity. If the deniers want to revel in inconsistencies and convoluted explanations, there's no better place to go.
Newton tried to make sense of gravity back in the 17th century, and it looked like he had done a pretty good job of it, for awhile anyway. But as our scientific understanding increased, gaping holes appeared in his logic. It took Einstein to come up with something that worked better. Of course, Einstein's theory is so complex and convoluted, it makes the mind reel. Scientists continue to look for better ways to explain this elusive phenomenon.
So I say to global warming deniers, focus your energies on attacking the very questionable theory that what goes up must come down. Don't let the overwhelming scientific agreement or the physical evidence distract you from your mission of exposing the Vast Pro-Gravity Conspiracy.
You'll have just as much fun, and you'll do much less harm.