Some more thoughts on global warming

Trent Ernst, Editor


Written at minus 20.

A few months back, I wrote about how someone had taken Pascal’s Wager and applied it to Global Warming.

To sum up the argument the debate has been: is global warming happening, or is it not happening, and what influence have people had on in?

People trot out all manner of data to support or refute the theory, and in the meantime, we are left with the issue: what do we do?

The Pascal’s Wager takes and approaches the issue from the other end, and asks: what are the outcomes of our action or inaction?

We can reasonably state that there’s enough people out there with enough questions about the validity of Global Warming that the debate still rages. So, let’s look at the consequences, not of Global Warming/not warming, but of our acting like it is happening, versus us acting like it’s not happening.

If it is happening, and we do nothing, the worst case results are catastrophic to the environment, to society, to industry and to the economy. If it is happening and we act, there’s a chance we can save the environment, society, but we sacrifice industry and the economy.

On the other hand, if it is not happening, and we do nothing, nothing happens outside a few more decades of people arguing. If we do something and it’s not happening, then again, we sacrifice industry and the economy.

From a purely results based standpoint, the worst case outcome of not acting is worse than the worst case outcome of acting. It doesn’t matter whether you believe that the earth is warming or not. It is a results-oriented argument.

(This is a very basic summary; if you want links to the actual video series, email

In my earlier editorial, I made a joke about the weather outside and implied that was somehow proof of global warming, as, at the time, it was an abnormally warm fall. I was thinking someone might call me out on it, but nobody did.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people who don’t believe in Global Warming making similar, single-point-of-data type arguments over on Facebook, and it’s starting to bother me.

It isn’t anything about the position. It’s about the facts that people have been using.

You see, in the last few months I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about “har har, how can global warming be true when we just recorded the coldest day ever?” and “Boy isn’t it ironic that those global warming scientists are stuck in the Antarctic, because there’s too much ice and snow.” While it might seem like good rhetoric, it is bad science.

It might seems like a logical argument to make (I mean, how can we be warming up when we’re so cold…) there are two problems with making the argument. The first is that it’s a single data point. It’s like finding out the age of a single person in a city, and then declaring all the residents of that city are all that age. It is not an argument based on evidence, it is an argument based on experience, and a rather narrow experience at that. I look out the window and I see that it is cloudy. Do I therefore decide that the sun is a myth? (Well, this winter that seems to be the case…)

The second is a bit more problematic, as extreme weather events, even extreme cold events, are considered a marker of Global Warming. So, by making these arguments, you are, in fact, making a valid case for Global Warming, not against.

Now, if you were to start with something like this: “Within error bounds, AGT has not increased since 1995 and has declined since 2002, despite an increase in atmospheric CO2 of 8 percent since 1995.” That would be the start of a legitimate discussion.

“Look at those stupid scientists stuck out on the ice?” is not.