Let's have an off-topic post, that still deals with skepticism, but not skepticism of the paranormal. This is about global warming skepticism.
At this point, the debate of whether global warming is happening seems to be mostly replaced by a debate of whether humans are causing it. The earth goes through cyclical warming trends, and it always has. Not much in nature is static. So, who's to say whether the current warming trend was caused by man, or if man is just here to witness it?
Just in front of beavers, human beings affect their environment more than any other animal. If you look at satellite images of big cities (Tokyo is an extreme example) it looks like a very large person just splashed a dallop of gray paint on the globe. So, I don't think anyone is going to argue that humans make a small impact. I'll rephrase that, I don't think anyone should argue that humans make a small impact. We've got our fingers in the cake pretty deep, polluting the oceans, the land, the air, damming off the rivers, and sticking our sheds over rabbit-holes and such.
Now, I'm not an environmentalist. It seems to be a word that implies a bit of activism, and that's not how I spend my time. I think most of us can agree, though, that while we have a big impact, it's not a greatly beneficial one. As a species, our highest priority in most things is our species. One of the byproducts of our comfort, as humans, is CO2. The more comfortable we want to be, it seems (heating, A/C, television, computers, washer/dryer) the more CO2 we give off.
So, what is the effect of emitting unimaginable amounts of CO2 into the air? Cars, and power plants, and factories, and farms, all over the world, twenty-four hours a day, constantly increasing, for about a century? Not to mention that many of the industries that increase the CO2 have also reduced the amount of vegetation and/or plankton that eat the stuff up. I'm no scientist, but I know that putting more of something somewhere increases the amount of it, and I don't think there's any kind of magic that kicks in a large scales that would make that stop applying.
So, when a person states that humanity isn't contributing to global warming, I have to wonder how someone even thought of that in the first place. It's not an intuitive conclusion, by far. That person must be much smarter than me, because I still don't understand it.
People die every day. We're all going to die, because it's natural, and it's the way things have been happening since life began. But, if you hold a pillow over someone's face, and they're dead when you pull the pillow away, only a very smart pillow skeptic will be able to prove that it was from natural causes.
Thanks for reading.
Note: I've changed every instance of "climate change" in this post to "global warming," which, in this context, is more accurate. 3/7/11