Special Earth Day Issue April 22, 2009
Depending on how you phrase the questions, approximately the same percentage of the public believes in global warming as believe in alien visitors. Polls vary widely depending on when the poll is taken, who is asking the questions and how the questions are asked
A 2002 Roper poll showed that 55% of responders didn't think the government was telling the public everything it knew about UFOs and 48% believed the Earth was being visited by aliens. Compare these results to an April 2008 Pew poll that showed that 47% of responders believe that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing catastrophic global warming.
In the case of the UFO believers, most do not believe the government is telling them everything. In the case of AGW believers one must conclude that most believe everything the government and MSM are telling them. I'd really love to know the extent of overlap in these two groups but that's not my point.
The whole global warming, "the end is near" issue is near and dear to me. I am not a climatologist or a meteorologist, but I have a very thorough background in science, statistics and critical thinking. In fact, almost 20 years ago I was initially a believer in anthropogenic global warming. The concept fascinated me so I decided to do some reading and educate myself. We all know what happens when you read the "real" science on the subject. You become a skeptic. I'm skeptical about a lot of things.
I believe that if we continue to enrich our atmosphere's CO2 concentration to twice that of pre-industrial times we may see an average increase of global temperature of about 1.2º C by the end of this century. I also believe this would be a net benefit to mankind by encouraging plant growth and producing more arable land. I don't believe in the artificial climate sensitivities used in the IPCC computer models. I really don't believe we know enough about climate to predict anything other than climate will change (warmer or cooler) as it always does irrespective of CO2.
I don't believe in "tipping points" and for that matter I don't really believe in net positive feedbacks in the climate system. I don't believe there is anything (rational) that mankind can do about climate except to adapt to it when it changes...and it will. I came by my beliefs by reading scientific works by experts who study the subject, evaluate the empirical data and know a lot more about the science than I do. But to be fair, I don't believe that aliens are visiting the Earth simply for lack of empirical evidence.
I am encouraged by the trend of more people expressing skepticism about dangerous AGW. We now have a reasonably good set of empirical data to cast serious doubt on the theory of catastrophic AGW. Empirical data = real science. The warming alarmists have only tweaked GCM models upon which to base their dubious claims. Yet why do so many people still remain convinced that we're killing the planet? I think it is because they want to believe in it so badly, they become blind to the cold, hard facts.
My (now very elderly) father used to tell me about a business associate of his who used to stay in touch with him via ham radio after their retirement. He was a devout UFO/alien believer. My Dad used to tell me that this guy wanted to believe in aliens so badly he absolutely refused to consider any other option. I think that's where we are as a nation. So many want to believe that we are not only causing a future crisis, but we possess the ability to avert it. Empirical science demonstrates that this is NOT the case...but so many still refuse to accept the truth.
I will say this for the UFO crowd: to date they still have better photographic evidence to support their claims than the catastrophic AGW alarmists have to support theirs.