The Grand Portage Reservation is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. The Air Quality Program has many ongoing projects in order to maintain healthy indoor and outdoor air. These projects include monitoring for regional haze and particulate matter, indoor air quality, invasive plant removal, public outreach, environmental education, alternative energy, and climate change.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Climate Science And Honest Debate

The late spring we are having here in northern Minnesota is giving some of the local climate change skeptics more hope than ever that global warming is just some socialist plot to try and take away their pickup trucks and SUVs. Unfortunately for them local weather is not the same as global climate (as I tried to point out in this post). The skeptics are becoming more and more shrill in their arguments as the science that refutes them becomes more solid every day, and most of the arguments they make are full of holes and cherry-picked data that makes attempting to engage them in honest debate an exercise in futility. Coby Beck has gathered together a very nice page of links called "How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic" which has categorized the most commonly encountered denialist arguments.

What is interesting is that many of the same debate techniques used to deny climate change are the same as those used by those who denied a link between smoking and cancer, or used by creationists to discredit evolution. One of the things they all have in common is the attempt to put "reasonable doubt" in the mind of the public that there is scientific agreement on these subjects. Mainstream journalists follow along by framing the subject as a two-sided debate with merit on both sides. The problem with this is that the general public does not see the peer-reviewed scientific journals where actual scientific debate takes place, and they don't realize that it is a small but vocal minority creating most of the controversey.

Please click on the links provided and the links under Climate Change in my list on the left. Often Google Scholar can provide abstracts to peer-reviewed science on climate change that you can find at a university library. Reading science is not easy, but it is nessecary if you want to know the real data and not just spin driven by ideology.


Gail said...

Hi, I read your comment over at and I wonder if you could do a little scouting for me in your neck of the woods.

I did correspond with a professor at Michigan U who said that the trees there are in bad shape.

Any observations would be welcome.

Gail at or

Stuart said...

Thanks Gail,
I read your comments there as well, and realize that you are as alarmed as I am about the wholesale ecological changes happening around us. There are many standing dead aspens up here along with birches that are bare near the top. The U of MN is currently studying the birch die-back phenomenon, as well as species change in the area of the 1999 blowdown (over 17 million trees snapped like twigs). I tried to comment on your blog but blogger ate my comment - I will try again. Thanks again for the comment and I will try to pass along more info from "up north"

Gail said...

Stuart, I just read your response at my gmail account, I keep forgetting to check it because I only set it up so I could blog!

If you come across any more information and remember to share it with me that would be great.

Things around here are just terrifying, not least because hardly anyone seems to notice. The leaves are wilted, hanging straight down, and they are abnormally thin and small.

I just came across this yesterday:

I do not know exactly what is affecting the trees, or what combination of things. There really seems to be so little comprehensive scientific inquiry on this subject.

All I can say is, if people in other places are anywhere near as oblivious to the very real empirical changes in their ecosystem as they are here, then the world is going to hell in a handbasket!


ps I wonder if there is a problem on my blog with comments?