This is part I of a guest post by Greg Laden.
We know that “global warming denialism” is a political gambit, and it does not need to be excused. But there is a phenomenon that helps engender denialism, giving it apparent credibility as its proponents try continuously to spread it among regular people. This, of course, is the natural variation in climate, including the simple seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation that makes people say, during a winter cold snap “Huh. I thought we were having Global Warming … I guess not,” and to say during a summer heat wave “Man, this global warming is a drag!” and so on.
Diurnal denialism doesn’t happen. People don’t think global warming is not real when night falls and the air cools, and then think it is real again the next day when the sun comes up and the part of the Earth they are on warms. Well, probably. Seasonal denialism is usually not too serious, or at least, it is rarely more serious than casual weather-talk ever is. But the longer term variations in climate may have had, in my opinion, a more significant effect on the public view of climate change, and has even influence some of the science (though not recently).
Here, I’d like to talk about an observation I made while writing for a now defunct monthly rag about global warming back in the early 1990s, and have always wanted to pursue formally, as a research project. Since I’ve not gotten to it yet, I thought it might be fun to outline the idea more informally, to give you, literally, a sketch or two that makes the point.
The bottom line is this: Our ability to see climate change has increased over time due to several different factors: Better instrumentation for observing the climate now (including satellites), proxies for looking at past climate, and simple time … we know much more about the late 20th century now than we did in 1965 because, well, it hadn’t happened yet in 1965!
More coming soon..
Greg Laden is an anthropologist and science communicator who can never decide which is more important: nuance or context. He writes at Scienceblogs.com and Freethoughtblogs.com