Guy named Jonathan Overpeck who makes a living ensuring people are nervous about global warming conducted a survey of Arizona residents and discovered three-fourths of them are nervous about global warming. Job well done?
Quote: “A large majority of Arizona residents believe that the world’s temperature has been rising (74%)”.
Now this is false, as in it isn’t true, as in it isn’t so, by which I mean that the proposition that “the world’s temperatures has been rising” when compared against reality produces a glaring mismatch. The proposition is not only false, but easily discovered to be false. And it is so easily discovered to be false that we must seek an explanation why so many people’s thoughts have gone awry.
According to Overpeck, “The survey findings show that the people of Arizona are aware of and interested in climate change and that they understand there are policy decisions that can be made to address it”. Well, he claims they are interested, but that’s not clear. All we know is that 800 people were called and made to answer questions on a subject about which they were largely uninformed. Whether they were interested before that call is anybody’s guess.
Here’s what’s odd: “According to the poll, more than half of Arizonans believe global warming has caused more droughts and storms around the world, and more forest fires and heatwaves in the state.” And this is verified by examining the survey results (pdf). I mean, some 60% of Arizonans do believe global warming has caused more droughts etc.
That’s also false. As in none of it is true, as in…but you get the idea.
We’re now at the main point of this post: people’s opinions about subjects in which they are demonstrably ignorant (and I mean this word politely, in its technical sense) and what this means in a democracy.
One Gregg Garfin, deputy director for science translation and outreach at Overpeck’s institute, thought it important to say, “This survey shows the majority of Arizonans seem to be concerned about climate change, which is pretty much in line with the majority of U.S. residents.”
We can guess Garfin would have been saddened had his fellow residents believed less strongly (in falsities) than the rest of the country. Does it then follow that in a democracy it is important that consensus is reached, even when the consensus is wrong, even whoppingly wrong?
The answer, I think, is yes. This is proved in the words of fellow survey author professor Jon Krosnick: “The University of Arizona has done a great service by using the science of survey research to give state residents an opportunity to express their beliefs about what has been happening to the Earth and what they want government to do and not do on this issue”.
What a strange thing to say! Were Arizona residents really burning with desire to tell academics their (false) beliefs about global warming, a stress only relieved by Krosnick’s call? If that’s true, there are still some 6.7 million unsurveyed people suffering. Krosnick ought to get them on the phone as soon as possible and put them out of their misery.
Now, either Krosnick is more concerned with consensus than with correcting error, or he himself is just as ignorant as the majority of his respondents. And if he is just as ignorant, and because finding the truth about weather records is easy, what does this say about the state of science?
The obvious: consensus is more important than truth.
All this is confirmed by none other than Bill “The Science Guy” Nye, who made a point of telling Rutgers graduates to “challenge those who dismiss” global warming. Nye actually said “climate change”, the preferred euphemism for global warming, a linguistic trick, incidentally, which also proves the desire for consensus. Nye said, “So, hey deniers—cut it out, and let’s get to work.”
Get to work? On what? Well, on the object of the consensus, a point so obvious that neither Nye nor the Arizona survey team felt they had to say it. And what is that object?
Hispanics are more concerned about the impact of global warming, and they more heavily favor policies such as cap and trade and government action to limit emissions. More women than men support government action to prepare for the effects of global warming, and 97 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 35) support government laws or tax incentives to reduce power-plant emissions.
What’s wrong with white men? Don’t they want consensus?
News You Can Use: I’ll be speaking at the Heartland Conference June 12th in DC. Autograph hounds are cautioned to bring their own pens.