Thursday, November 26, 2015

Discussing Climate Change Over the Thanksgiving Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, along with Christmas, are a time for families and good cheer. And football. But they can also be a time of stress, especially if members of your family arriving from out of town hold divergent beliefs on politics, or religion, or climate change.

Unlike politics and religion, where differing opinions can each have validity, one can't have different opinions on the science of climate change. The science is based on, well, scientific study, published research that must go through peer-review to ensure basic validity and long-term scrutiny and testing by other scientists. Only the sum total of all of the scientific study defines the science. In many cases there isn't a clear-cut conclusion that can be drawn, which is why scientists are always doing more research and trying to identify yet another piece of the puzzle.

So when scientists finally do reach a consensus such as they have on climate change, that means the scientific data so overwhelmingly demonstrate "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and humans are "the dominant cause of that warming" that the picture on the puzzle becomes undeniably clear, even if there are a still a few tiny pieces to put together.

There aren't two sides of this. There is the science, and there is the denial of the science.

Of course, people do choose to believe one thing or another, claiming that their lack of understanding, or something they read on a blog, is somehow equivalent to the entire body of science published by climate scientists. So how do you have that "science" conversation with a climate denier?

In short, I recommend you don't.

There is no value in a group of people who aren't scientists "discussing" science when understanding of the science is dwarfed by predefined conclusions and misinformation. It just isn't worth it.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other family get-together, should be about family. The time should be focused on catching up on the distant lives of visiting relatives, playing with the niece or nephew or grandchild you haven't seen before (or since last Thanksgiving).

That is what Thanksgiving is for. Be there for your family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. For those who desperately feel the need to ignore this advice, check out this article.

[Reposted from 2014 so we can enjoy the holiday with our families.]