Words and Pictures

In a recent speech, Noam Chomsky addressed the “controversy” about global warming.

There is indeed a controversy: on one side, the overwhelming majority of  scientists, all of the world’s major National Academies of Science, the professional  science journals, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) : all agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human  component, and that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon,  maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process  will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with very severe effects on the   possibility of decent human survival.

It is rare to find such consensus on complex  scientific issues.

A couple of weeks ago, a reader of this blog sent me an “info graphic” she had discovered that illustrates the matter. It’s well worth clicking through and viewing.

The question, of course, is: why is there so much resistance to settled science? I understand opposition by the self-interested, the industries dependent upon fossil fuels. But the anti-science cohort is far larger than the special interest groups, and it extends well beyond denial of global warming. It’s larger than the religious fundamentalists who are still arguing about evolution.

There are some kinds of ignorance–willful or not–that are harmless. Rejection of a reality that can literally destroy us is not one of them.



  1. Denial is powerful. Sometimes, it takes you through Hell. Sometimes it leads you there.

  2. indeed, sometimes denial takes you to hell, and sometimes it takes you to forbes.com, where paul ogden seems to believe he’s found a bombshell that disproves this post:

    unfortunately, it seems paul didn’t bother to scroll down and read the comments on that forbes page, where the commenters handily point out all the misrepresentations that paul uncritically parrots:

  3. Don’t petroleum geologists and climatologists have different competencies? Maybe that’s why climatologists have a different consensus about climate change than petroleum geologists. Of course, we could always ask climatologists what they think about the future of petroleum drilling just to see how that would work out.

  4. The folks at the Pentagon think it is real. The international insurance companies think it is real. I think “the jury is still out” folks have had it drummed into their heads for so long that there is not changing their minds. They are the same people still smoking. If you listen to Rush and Hannity and O’Riely etc (the dumb folks) for 30 years or so, your mind set is just warped. I think those folks are just going to have to die off. In the mean time, the rest of us need to get to work doing what we can. We need to move on without them as best we can. God help us all. Now lets get to work.

  5. Of course, if you want a real expert, there is Rush, Hannity and O’Reilly who will give you an opinion about the implications of quantum theory on dark matter if you want it. And a scientist is a scientist is a scientist. Aren’t they all the same? Physiologist, psychologist, political scientist all start with “p”.

  6. Thank you Sheila. While the info graphic is a bit over the top and exaggerates a bit (not every weather phenomenon is related to global warming), it is basically correct.

    Paul Ogden and I have argued this one before – see his site and

    It is a shame that he reaches for a peer reviewed “management” journal instead of a scientific one — especially one that surveys petroleum engineers in Canada’s oil producing province, Alberta.

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science, America’s largest scientific organization and publisher of Science, states that there is little controversy. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) agrees. I should point out that the NAS is an body of the nation’s top scientists elected by their peers. I am a member of the former with no illusions I will ever be in the latter.

    I also mentioned how a true global warming denier, Dr. Richard A. Muller did what real scientists do. He reviewed the data himself — and came away believing that global warming is even worse than previously reported.

    I don’t think Paul will ever agree with us, but I appreciate your bringing up this important topic, Sheila.

  7. Geologists are more of a “natural” scientist than Mr. Chomsky. Plus, they have competency in how matters effect the whole earth. Whatever you think of this study, Paul’s overall point is correct: that it is irresponsible for ANY scientist to say case closed, you’re wrong, I won’t listen to any arguments to the contrary. I learned that in like a fifth grade science class.

  8. Sophistry is a great trick to get people to believe in the de jour apocalyptic sign holders.

  9. Unquestionably, global warming has failed to meet it’s own benchmark predictions. Many EXTREMELY high-profile scientists have scaled back their predictions and/or had their predictions proven wrong.

    Again, let’s not throw more money down the toilet and gamble away my children’s future on all these campaign-contribution-motivated “green” investments.

    At this point I have to call out the message distortion at work here, is global warming the same as climate change? If the science was setttled why was it, ahem, “unsettled?” Why has climate science and global warming, again, failed to meet their own predictions? Why do global warming and/or climate science proponents attack critics instead of their science? Why do they point to all their funding and ignore their own? Until these questions are settled, color me skeptical. STOP.

  10. Why is it when 99% of the scientists believe that there is, in fact, global warming, the conservatives only listen to the 1% that disagree with them? Are they just being contrary?

  11. Consensus happens when I agree with the 99%, not when the ones who know the most about the topic agree.

  12. Chomsky is literally, non-ironically, not-making-this-up, a Stalinist. To him the State is the end-all and be-all. So excuse we mortals for not bowing and scraping at such a citation.

    “Global Warming” is a racket with one purpose – to enable the State to control all aspects of industry through regulation, and carbon credits.

    Even if Global Warming is real, the solutions offered by the Statists will barely make a dent in the warming trend…at a cost of trillions of dollars.

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