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Sunday, September 24, 2023
Denial of climate change reveals ignorance

Anthony Cefali

Denial of climate change reveals ignorance

Editor's Note: The original story was posted Wednesday night, this version has since been changed.

Earlier this week, Badger Herald opinion columnist Andrew Carpenter wrote about the reality of climate change. Carpenter takes an esoteric, if self-indulgent stance on the issue; he doesn't really see climate change as a threat to the planet. Normally, I would say he has the right to think what he wants and then proceed to ignore the piece, but Carpenter thought it was appropriate to reference me in his argument. While I am by no means immune from criticism, I don't take kindly to people misunderstanding my words and then using them to buoy their own baseless ruminations.

The first thing to address is the science behind my arguments as well as Carpenter's (this was not my first piece on global warming, and it won't be my last). I am a biology major and good, elegant, empirical science matters to me. After using a quote from this article, Carpenter writes, ""While I am not in a position to discuss the scientific accuracy of this statement, I want to address the attitude."" Though this all but disqualifies him from a climate discussion, he continues:

This quote admits some temperatures have fallen, climate models are inaccurate, and we cannot predict what will happen to the environment. These are perfect grounds for throwing out the assumptions and conclusions of global warming theory or at least holding off on serious action. But because of blind acceptance and fear, Cefali concludes things must be so bad we can't even understand!

These claims do not, in fact, allow us to throw out any assumptions. First, all assumptions are wrong. Assumptions require us to neglect reality. They imply there is a truth out there and that we will find that truth through the building of models. I never mentioned assumptions, but I did mention predictions. Our predictions will change because the constraints on the system are changing.

In a previous article about global warming I wrote that we are seeing a dynamic system response. This means constraints will shift to account for new levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and so our old data and predictions will no longer be useful in this new system. The planet's atmosphere is reinventing itself, so to speak, and we must recognize this in order to build a useful model.

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Now, Al Gore does not really do a great job addressing system dynamics, but that was not the focus of ""An Inconvenient Truth."" The predictions in the film are based on older data, so a lot of this is outside of his scope. Again, the dynamic response of the Earth will significantly alter these predictions. Perhaps even more dynamic than the science behind climate change is science itself. Carpenter displays no knowledge of the scientific process, adhering to the old standard of ""if it was wrong before, it will always be wrong."" Freud was wrong. He was really wrong. But that does not make any of his contributions to psychology irrelevant. It's our responsibility to change with the times and to build upon old knowledge. To think that science isn't going to stumble along the way is rather naïve.

The problem is, because Carpenter's piece is largely speculative, which is a very generous term, he doesn't feel the need to use facts. But global warming is a scientific debate. Without facts, there is no argument. Looking at this study recently published by NASA, we can see that there is an overall trend of global warming. Things were a little cooler than we thought in the 1930's and we do see the data bounce around a little, but the overall trend persists. The data indicates almost exponential global temperature warming that coincides with the Industrial Revolution and our subsequent population growth. This is good science, something we've come to expect from NASA.

To Carpenter though, this evidence doesn't matter. He goes on to question the authority of science. He brings a British court into the mess because the court apparently ruled ""An Inconvenient Truth"" to be propaganda. Is this really an argument? We're all being brainwashed and it's okay to use up our finite resources to prove a point? I really don't believe Carpenter is that brainwashed himself to believe that. After all, it's not like the totally impartial judges took the time to read all the peer-reviewed literature available on global warming and formulated reasoned opinions based on the empirical evidence. This attitude is the real problem.

As for myself being brainwashed by the climate change culture, I take that as an insult to my education and even more to myself. I've studied science with a natural curiosity for almost four years now and these are the things I see. I'm not a propagandist; I'm a scientist. Andrew Carpenter would do himself well to learn the difference between the two.

Anthony Cefali is a senior majoring in biology and English. Please send responses to


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