By Adam Frank
26 July 2016
(NPR) – This is a year of politics. That means everyone has opinions about where the world should be headed and how we should get there.
No matter how weird this political season has been, however, there remains a key difference between opinions and facts. That difference comes into the starkest relief when people must face their own inconsistencies in reconciling the two domains.
And nowhere is the gap between opinions and facts more apparent than the subject of climate change. As a recent action by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) demonstrates, for climate deniers there is a chasm between what is said and what is done.
The basic dilemma of climate denial is that, for decades, science has pointed to two very clear conclusions. First is the overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming. Second is the overwhelming evidence that the warming is due to human activity (mostly in the form of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use).
The truth of these claims is getting bolded and underlined as 2016 is on track to be the hottest recorded year ever for the planet. The last hottest year on record was 2015 (you know you're in trouble if the hottest year ever is always this one now). In addition to the temperature records, every climate observatory in the world is now recording CO2 greenhouse gas levels higher than any time in the last 4 million years.
In the face of these facts, climate denialists claim that the science is somehow mistaken or it's a deliberate hoax. So where exactly is their inconsistency? To understand the break between actions and words, consider a June 28 letter to Congress sent by the AAAS and 30 of the nation's scientific organizations urging action on climate change: [more]