Science, Tech & Environment

A gathering of global warming skeptics

Scientists first speculated about 110 years ago about the greenhouse gas effect. As technology advanced, the technology advanced and last year scientists left little room for doubt about climate change when they released the equivalent of a scientific slam dunk with a report from 600 authors from 40 countries linking human activity to global warming. The group that produced the report, the IPCC was then awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The skeptics were not convinced and they gathered in New York this week. Many of the speakers weren't scientists, the opening speaker was a comedian. Serious science was discussed with about four-dozen scientists presenting reports. But the majority offered little original research, rather many said the existing work is inconclusive. Many speakers said global warming is due to natural changes in the atmosphere, blaming the liberal media, scientists and politicians for hyping the issue. Everyone made Al Gore jokes. The conference was organized by the Heartland Institute who's funded by groups like Exxon Mobile, General Motors and conservative organizations and individuals. The message resonates with many Americans though: roughly three out of four believe there's solid evidence that the earth is warming, but less than half believe it's due to human activity, a divide when compared to the rest of the world that is stark. Americans are the least concerned about global warming. This professor says there are groups like Heartland that adopt a playbook similar to the one that challenges teaching evolution in schools and are creating the illusion that there's a scientific debate when in fact there is none. Climate change is also highly politicized in America and in Europe that is not the case. Perhaps many Americans find it hard to accept that humans are the cause of global warming. Another reason for skepticism is that Americans are immune to the effects of a warming planet, which is a different reality from say, countries like Papua New Guinea, and seeing means believing. In the US what we're seeing are politicians and candidates taking the issues seriously. But while the scientific debate over climate change is on its last legs, the debate over what to do over climate change is just beginning. And that's another debate the skeptics are itching to join.

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