Trying to keep up on my daily news feeds for a change, I ran across a link to a new publication being put out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It’s a “Climate Literacy” piece designed to be accessible for a variety of ages and backgrounds.
Word of caution to anyone who feels that climate change is just some sort of liberal-hippie ruse designed to take your 4.0-liter, V-12 trucks off the road: they admit that human activity affects Earth’s climate. But, they do so in a way that is not too heavy-handed– the reader is presented with facts and conclusions drawn through research, and is given a sort of personal measuring device to assess one’s own climate literacy. Hence, the approach in presenting scientific findings is very… scientific.
I guess I like the fact that this publication doesn’t offer any judgment of the reader (as opposed to mass media outlets, who have a clearer position on everything). It seems to be less about positing an opinion regarding climate, and more how to MAKE a sensible and informed assessment; nearly the entire first half of the book talks about how conclusions are reached via research, and what the process of peer review is all about. For someone who knows about science, it’s pretty basic stuff, but for a person that has long since forgotten (or maybe never knew) what research processes are, it offers a firm foundation on which debate and explanation can be built.
The thing that has really bothered me on the climate issue is an attitude I’ve seen from some people: that we should change NOTHING without absolute, certain proof that human activities are affecting the planet. The truth is, our species has been on Earth for such a brief part of its history, we can’t be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure of anything; it’s no excuse for inaction. Taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect the water supply from pollution, and preserve our forests, jungles, and other ecosystems is not going to HURT anything, so let’s do it.
Anyway, I read the pamphlet, and it’s a worthwhile read. Give it a look if you have a chance, even if you have a well-established attitude about climate change.