Dr. Stephen Schneider, one of the giants of climate science, passed away last year to the day. Over at Dot Earth, Andy Revkin celebrates his life's work by featuring this truly remarkable video, in which Schneider single-handedly takes on a room full of climate skeptics in a round of civil, moderated debate. The skeptics (or 'sceptics' in silly Australian English) take turns throwing every well-polished talking point in the book at him, and for the most part, the man responds civilly, and with aplomb -- this despite the fact that his failing health would claim his life merely weeks later.
Anyhow, I'd also like to note the manner this conference is held in -- it probably has to be the worst possible way to 'convert' climate skeptics there is. The teeming crowd merely reinforce one another's skepticism -- you can watch the sea of disapproving eyes and 'take-that' nods throughout, and realize that nobody's changing their minds here, no matter how intelligent Schneider's answers may be.
More than anything, the video is a good exercise in understanding the nature of skepticism, and its base in ideology. Many of these people are eager to agree with anything that 'disproves' climate science, no matter if it contradicts the last thing that someone said that 'disproves' it too. And notice how it's all about 'belief': the skeptics have located a position that they 'believe in', and it's exceedingly difficult to get them to absorb anything that would challenge that set of beliefs (this goes for all of us, of course).
So it may have been an exercise in futility, but kudos to the man for taking the challenge -- it's also well worth watching to brush up on the basics of climate science in an entertaining format, too.
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