Stop willful ignorance of climate change science
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Michael McGrady recently wrote a piece in The Hill entitled “NASA’s study on Antarctica’s ice: It’s growing,” attempting to show that climate change is a debauchery of political influence and not dedicated to the facts. It’s simply not true.

Let’s begin with simple science: weather is our day-to-day experience of the atmosphere while climate (as measured by the scientific community) is a period of at least 30 years that averages these weather patterns. Essentially, weather is what we get and climate is what we expect. For instance, we expect it to be pretty rainy throughout the tropical regions even if we get a couple of days of pure sunshine and no rain (climate vs. weather).

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McGrady is convinced that the scientific community is fabricating claims of global climate change due to funding conflicts. Authoritative climate change reports are issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), an intergovernmental panel that researches, analyzes, and reports on climate change. To get the 2,000+ member scientists from 195 countries to conspire to fabricate weather data and analysis for over 30 years would be the greatest corruptive event ever to grace human history, let alone escaping unscathed from a rigorous peer review process. Russian or Iranian scientists are not going to be operating as the political arm of Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreAl Gore warns of 'ominous' record-breaking heat Colbert to Kennedy on retirement: Don't tell me your mind's going because 'you never had one!' Budowsky: Obama remains AWOL for Dems MORE or any other liberal politician.

McGrady is further convinced that, if the “debate is over” on climate change, we should not be investing more money into studying it and the potential consequences. Investing in science is a bit like building a fire: to keep it going, it needs fuel. The original models used in climate science in the 1970s included three variables: the sun, CO2 emissions, and rain. We’ve come a long way: the most recent used by the IPCC accounts for the sun, CO2 emissions, rain, aerosols, oceans, land masses, land-water heating differences, clouds, interactive vegetation, the carbon cycle, rivers, sulphates, volcanic activity, ocean circulation, and a whole host of other chemistry and atmospheric science. There’s a reason our climate models have become more and more accurate (and truly less alarmist) since the 1980s: we’ve invested in science to make our predictions better.

Investing in science makes us better at predicting what will happen. This doesn’t mean that we know exactly everything about how the climate will adapt; there is still much about Earth’s natural systems and feedback loops we have yet to fully understand. If McGrady is so concerned that “the research…is often miscalculated,” then we need to invest in making sure the research is accurate.

To borrow McGrady’s phrasing, there are just as many “foolhardy, unsupported claims made by scientists with financial ties to pro-global warming funding sources” as there are scientists with financial ties to pro-oil funding sources. Even our friends at the Heartland Institute who deny climate change (a source in McGrady’s piece) have received over $700,000 from Exxon Mobil, with $15,000 being solely donated for “Climate Change Efforts.” While these influences may exist in the non-profit world, there isn’t enough money or political influence to woo over 2,000 scientists from 195 countries in the world to fabricate claims.

A one-year or ten-year trend of growing ice in Antarctica has no relevance to the climate debate (let me repeat: climate is about a 30-year trend). McGrady attempts to use The National Snow & Ice Data Center’s sea ice index as a way to show growing Antarctica’s ice and the illegitimacy of climate change; he must have forgotten to click the “Arctic” tab and view the huge decline in our northern ice cap’s size due to rising global temperatures. The reason temperature increases are seen more in the Northern than the Southern Hemisphere is because it has more land mass and land heats/cools faster than oceans.

Let us accept one final fact (after all, McGrady said “rely on the facts”): one study proves basically nothing. On the other hand, the 24,205 studies that show the climate change we are experiencing is caused mainly by humans does prove something: it proves that we need to take action, right now, to mitigate the future problems.

Structuring effective policy requires us to stop willfully ignoring the facts. This does not mean we cannot be cautious about environmental policy choices, but it does mean we have to stop believing that the 2,000+ scientists from 195 countries who work on the IPCC are underneath the mind-control of Al Gore and liberal politicians (or their money).

Smith is the president of Roosevelt @ the University of Denver, a non-partisan undergraduate think tank committed to reimagining the rules of our social and economic realities.