Image via the Economist
Obvious sentence alert: the rhetoric around the global warming conversation has gotten pretty heated these days. It's become increasingly difficult to be able to find an even-keeled story on the whole of climate science--pieces on the topic have veered from defensive (I admit to getting fired up here and there) to baseless (ie the silly cold-winter-no-global-warming meme). So lo and behold: an even tempered, conservative-leaning look at the current state of climate science, from the folks at the Economist. The piece isn't perfect, and I certainly have my complaints with it (the heavy referencing to the now-thoroughly debunked work of MIT skeptic Lindzen, for example, and perhaps more glaringly, a failure to note how good huge swaths of the science have been and instead focusing on the errors).
But I still think it's a good read for the skeptical layman who's heard a lot of blustery talk about global warming hoaxes and money-grubbing scientists and the like recently. The piece is cautious (perhaps overly so), and it spends plenty of time going over the skeptics' grievances and frankly and fairly explaining why they don't amount to an excuse for inaction.
In fact, here's the conclusion:
The fact that the uncertainties allow you to construct a relatively benign future does not allow you to ignore futures in which climate change is large, and in some of which it is very dangerous indeed. The doubters are right that uncertainties are rife in climate science. They are wrong when they present that as a reason for inaction.Which I'd more or less agree with--keeping in mind that now many scientists believe the low-ball estimates for global temperature rise are too low, and constructing that benign climate future is going to be a lot tougher on our current emissions path.
But again--read the piece, especially if you're new to the topic, or want a sober, conservative update to climate science.