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In science there is no room for balancing opinions, part XNUMX - how to cover up global warming

Man-made global warming - an example of a place where a wrong balance occurs, according to a report that examined the science broadcasts on the BBC, prepared by Prof. Steve Jones from Imperial College London at the request of the British Broadcasting Authority.

The first part of the article

State of the Atmosphere and Climate Report 2010. From the NOAA website
State of the Atmosphere and Climate Report 2010. From the NOAA website

Belief in alternative medicine or astrology and fear of vaccines or genetically modified food are symptoms of a lack of trust in conventional wisdom. This skepticism should nest in the mind of every scientist, every journalist and politician. However, distrust can harden and turn into denial. This puts the media in a quandary, in their desire to provide objective information about what appears to be a developing controversy, they face falling into the trap of false balance, giving equal coverage to strongly held but marginal views compared to those that are less strongly held, but held by the majority of scientists. Nowhere is this struggle as strong as in the case of global warming.

The subject highlights the weaknesses and strengths of the BBC. The news that the board of directors is going to examine the issue aroused among the opponents of warming as a message from the network to harm them.
Programs that dealt with warming from the scientific point of view received dozens of written complaints. Criticism of the BBC was also written in several newspapers, most of them by journalists who took it upon themselves to maintain the false belief. But there have also been complaints from those who believe the warming is man-made for giving naysayers too much time. The analysis of the reports on the subject shows how difficult it is to maintain the principle of impartiality

One of Prof. Jones' interviewees said that the BBC left a scar following these debates. I didn't see it as justified, but the network invested a lot of effort to maintain impartiality. Seminars were held with the participation of experts and the environmental expert also gave his opinion and explained how difficult it is for people to understand what risk assessment is (on which the debate revolves). Global warming raises questions about science, policy and scandal reporting and deserves close scrutiny.

Before discussing the subject in detail, it is useful to put in proportion the tactics of some (though not all) of those who support the idea that global warming is a myth.

Among other things, they use familiar tactics of denial: they use rhetoric to give the appearance of discussion. This is nothing like skepticism. A skeptic is willing to change his or her opinions if he or she is proven wrong. A denier does not change his mind. Many of them see themselves as intellectual martyrs in the war against political correctness and successors of Galileo. Whatever the claim that AIDS has nothing to do with viruses, that the triple vaccine is unsafe, that complex organs can never develop or even that the 11/XNUMX attacks were a plot by the US government - the symptoms contain a description of a huge conspiracy to hide the truth and silence by secret forces. People with strong opinions should in their opinion be given equal weight to that of experts. Any evidence that contradicts their ideas must be ignored and any message that doubts the conventional wisdom is shouted down.

The requirements for proof should be high so that they cannot be achieved. Personal attacks (Hitler opposed smoking) are accepted as absolute truth and a useful tool (one example of a 90-year-old smoker refutes the claim that cigarettes are dangerous). The doubt overshadows the sure: a scientist will never be sure that a vaccine is always safe - meaning that it is always unsafe. Often the supporters of these theories unite in a movement that can, in these electronic days, bombard its enemies and give the impression that it is bigger than it is in reality.
And most importantly, in the context of this report, any admission by the establishment that it is less sure of the accuracy of its claims or leaves room for discussion becomes a document of surrender. Because most science involves uncertainty, it is always attacked by those who have never experienced the thrill.

Clarity of belief makes it easier for deniers to get the attention of news organizations but makes it harder for them to balance their idea with those of the majority. This may lead to the unfair publication of opinions that are not supported by any facts.

In the early days of research in the field, about two decades ago, there was considerable debate about the reality of climate change (although this debate received very little attention). Today there is general agreement that warming is a fact, although uncertainty remains as to how quickly and to what extent temperatures will actually rise. As of today, the pessimists have the upper hand and the increase in the amount of precipitation and floods predicted from a warmer atmosphere that can absorb more water along with them. The debate exists, and it is entitled to reporting in the objective way in which any non-exempt issue is handled.

The evidence is overwhelming. Starting in 1959, measurements in Hawaii clearly showed that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was increasing. Ice cores showed that for half a million years before the industrial revolution, the concentration of DTP ranged from 180 to 300 parts per million. Since around 1800 it has risen from 280 to 390 parts per million - an increase of 40%. Basic physics shows that carbon dioxide gas is a greenhouse gas. Many computer models have shown what might happen in the future even if they disagree on the question of how much feedback - between the melting ice, the rising sea levels, the death of plants will double the direct effect of the gas, and almost all climatologists predict a period of rising temperatures.

Three different series of data about the Earth's surface temperature agree that 2010 was one of the three warmest years since temperature measurement began, and nine of the ten warmest years have occurred since 2000.

The month of April of 2011 was the warmest in Britain for 350 years. A 2008 survey answered by thousands of earth science scientists found that 90% of them agree that temperatures have risen since 1800 and 82% of them said that human activity has a significant part in this. 96% of atmospheric physics experts agreed with the first statement and 97% with the second.

Truth is not defined in public opinion polls, but it is very difficult to deny the consensus. In a certain sense it is clear from an open letter in the journal Science signed by 250 members of the American National Academy of Sciences):
"There is complete, comprehensive and consistent evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our society and the ecosystems on which we depend. The recent attacks on climate science and especially on climate scientists by climate change deniers are motivated by special interests or dogma, not by a fair attempt to provide an alternative theory that reliably fits the evidence."

On the other hand, a public opinion poll conducted by Cardiff University in early 2010 showed that one in seven Britons believes that God does not change and one in five said that the climate is changing but this is not due to human activity. Less than half of the respondents agreed with the statement that scientists are certain that humans are causing climate change

The difference between the opinion of the professionals and the opinion of the public indicates a failure of the media to balance the opinions between things that have a huge difference in credibility.

13 תגובות

  1. Even if the earth is warming! Humans need a temperature above 24 degrees to function well!
    You have probably forgotten what it is below 0 and what life is like in such areas

  2. I'm actually of the opinion that the warming is contributed by the work of man, but this article, which at least in the first part wavers in unbiasedness, tends to be completely biased in reference to anyone who is not ready to accept the prevailing scientific opinion or the opinion of the *majority* of scientists.

    It is clear that there is a lot of chatter on the net and a lot of jipa of various kinds presented as consolidated opinions by different people, but to say in such a certain way that it is all concentrated on one side as shown here - contradicts the author's own statement: "...most science involves uncertainties..." The truth lies Out there she's just wrapped up in a lot of…

    And since we are dealing with opinions, the dirty Harry already said: Opinions are like as*s holes - everybody's got one and with the Jews - probably more than one 🙂

  3. Shlomi, global warming denier sites are just like anti-war sites to me. The pans also take something they don't understand and make a stew out of it. And besides that, let's assume that this is true and there is a connection between cosmic radiation and clouds, has there been a significant increase in cosmic radiation in the last decade that justifies warming on such a scale that we are experiencing?
    I happened to see in the media of the American right wing twists and turns around the topic of warming and in the end it comes down to one thing - those who support warming (and science) are against business, as if business must be done at the expense of the environment.

    In the meantime I read the The CERN press release. There is not a single word there about the warming or in general about heat measurements that the clouds affect, but only about the process of creating the clouds, nor is it written there that the clouds are created because of cosmic radiation, but that they are looking for other man-made substances that cause this.
    There is no news here when it comes to global warming, neither good nor bad. If I have patience, even though this is technical and boring material, I will translate it.
    my father

  4. I am fascinated by the fact that there is never unanimity in any situation, especially regarding causality and the future.
    First of all, a person who believes in supernatural powers, gods, prophets of fortune and more, is different in the basic concept
    his from the one who doesn't believe. For example, the believer trusts in his God that he will never destroy what he created.
    And another thing, even if the terrible predictions come true, a large part of the public of believers in the entire world
    will interpret it as a punishment for humanity or as a warning or the beginning of redemption and much more.

    If those who, by their very faith, oppose the predictions of science and do not hide it, will be part of the struggle
    To save the earth, the chances of its success will increase.

  5. In my understanding, it is desirable to make a clear separation between the discussions regarding the expected warming of the climate in the coming years, and between the claims that the warming is man-made.
    The reason for this is simple: money and interests.

    The fierce opposition to man-made warming claims is fueled by industry-backed conservative groups for obvious vested reasons.
    No campaign will succeed in reducing the resistance. Most attempts at such campaigns have done more harm than good.
    If economic considerations cause industrial entities to poison large populated areas, not only in China but also in the USA, no reasonable campaign will be of any use.
    As stated in the article above, the proponents of man-made warming are seen as being in the same boat as many of the proponents of delusional conspiracy theories and other types of blatant New Age nonsense.

    However, the expected consequences of global warming are very serious economic consequences.
    If the discussion focuses on them, the interest of the global economic bodies, such as large banks and large insurance companies and global companies, will be to try and prevent the damage or at least anticipate it, that is, to invest in the subject a great research effort with extensive funding.

  6. Bunch of nonsense. Even if it is something like zero point, there are things that even in low concentration have an effect, for example replace a drop of coke with a drop of poison and you will see the difference (or you won't be able to see it anymore). There are sufficient scientific explanations for why this works.

    Likewise on the subject of cigarettes there are sufficient explanations and not your funny argument. Chemical explanations of the substances in the cigarette and their effect on cells in the body measured in the laboratory.
    Also as in the denial of evolution, no proof that shows helps, the deniers always cover their eyes and don't want to see.

  7. It's a very nice thing and it's well known that the CO2 level has increased several times since the industrial revolution... to say otherwise is complete stupidity.

    Only one interesting thing here.. what is the total percentage of CO2 before and after the crazy increase...
    Well ladies and gentlemen

    It is measured by no less than 0.00X !!! In total all the components of our wonderful atmosphere...

    So it's really time to stop confusing the mind...

    In addition to this, since we have tools today to dig ice cores and analyze what happened in the past already in previous articles I mentioned that they discovered that the increase in CO2 at the level of percents and tens of percents happened approximately 800 years after the activity of the sun increased....note "after" not before...not as a result From... and not plaster.

    Also, as a bunch of climate scientists who can't even explain weather fluctuations with a probability of more than a few tens of percent .. and don't even understand the complete flow of the weather on Earth .. they claim to determine what does cause the greenhouse effect ... yes I will trust them.

    And if we're talking about a person who smokes, it's like saying that because smoke comes out of a cigarette, people die of cancer
    The smoke comes out in any case... and has nothing to do with the forecast.

    If you want to show the connection, you must prove that indeed the levels have a direct and measurable effect..and this is something they have not succeeded in..and of course they will not succeed because it is not the cause.

  8. If they say we caused the warming, then they should ask the public to turn on all the air conditioners and open the windows to let the cold out, that way we can return the Earth's temperature to normal.

    : )

  9. My father - you are right in the principled war against 'democratic' equality between wisdom and folly, between discussion and propaganda, between opinion and knowledge, and between speculation and research.
    But it should be remembered that selfishness and passions influence the judgment of all parties and explicitly also those whose actions were originally out of philanthropy or idealistic concern for the future of the earth, may develop biases.
    Let's take for example the subject of 'renewable energy'. It is true that burning fossil fuels is an injustice to our future. But the need for a subsidized price for the electricity produced by photovoltaic cells may indicate that their production process is actually much more expensive [energetically] than their utility. Well, the real solution should be to reduce human energy consumption, but we choose the path of developing another industry and increasing consumption instead of moderating the utilization of the globe's resources. It is difficult to know and quantify the best route to the goal, but there are already entresants and lobbyists in all directions [led by the people of the solar energy industry] who are committed to opinion and not to consideration, because they only benefit from one side of a solution.
    In short, not every layman is a scientist, but science does not guarantee us knowledge without bias. As the ancients said [and the scholarship and prize givers memorize] 'because in the shadow of wisdom is the shadow of money'.

  10. Two notes on style and substance:
    1. Another judgment tool that I personally tend to use in the evaluation of opinions, is the level of shouting / ranting of the claimant. I admit, this is not a scientific tool, but I believe that many make use of Moshe Sena's recommendation "weak argument, raise your voice".
    Unfortunately, the climate scientists - who operate according to a scientific discipline - are not the only voice heard in the public debate. Many times science is second fiddle to doomsday prophecies, special effects and passionate passions (even on this respected site). I find it difficult for me to take seriously the way in which various bodies (science websites and the media in general) mediate scientific knowledge - because of the way in which the dry and objective discussion is blocked by shouting and hysteria.
    2. In some respects, I feel that the shouting and the hysteria miss their purpose - which is justified in my view. After all, the discussion revolves, in the end, about the quality of life of the human race, today and in future generations. It is clear that "the human race" is not uniform in this respect: not in the intensity of the threats, not in the level of personal sacrifice, not in the political and economic cost, that environmental policies of one kind or another (on the whole spectrum: from a strictly green ideology to a development-at-all-costs policy).
    This is, in my opinion, the reason why the Kyoto Convention and similar ones were doomed to failure.

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