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What’s up with climate change? Ask the climatologists

big-blue-marbleEveryone seems to talk about climate change, to paraphrase part of a line attributed to Mark Twain, but not everyone knows as much about climate change as, say, climatologists.

Which leads us to suggest that you might want to take “insights” on the validity, causes and possible fixes to climate change with a large grain of salt if they’re coming from otherwise very smart people who aren’t climatologists. To not do so is like visiting an IT technician to find out what’s causing the chronic pain in your elbow — the IT guy might well be brilliant, but he’s probably not trained in the workings of the human nervous system.

With that in mind, we’ve identified five smart people who’ve had plenty to say on the subject of global warming, but aren’t in fact climate scientists:

  • Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, authors of Freakonomics and the new followup book, SuperFreakonomics. We thought the first book was brilliant, but are less than thrilled with comments like this from their latest work: “Any religion, meanwhile, has its heretics, and global warming is no exception.” They also question whether reducing carbon emissions is the way to go in battling climate change, yet advocate untested geoengineering schemes as a solution.
  • Bjørn Lomborg, the self-proclaimed “Skeptical Environmentalist.” Having long argued it’s a waste of money to fight climate change, he’s now promoting a strategy involving a fleet of ships shooting seawater into the clouds to boost reflectivity and lower global temperatures — another untested (at that scale) form of geoengineering. Lomborg’s ideas are taken to task by Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
  • Freeman Dyson. Yes, he is, as The New York Times described him, an “eminent physicist.” But physics is not climatology. Yet Dyson asserts that the concern over climate change has become an “obsession,” “The polar bears will be fine” and “The climate is actually improving rather than getting worse.”
  • George Will, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post, whose climate viewpoints are regularly debunked — even on the pages of his own newspaper. Strange, isn’t it, that so many so-called “conservatives” show no interest in conserving a liveable climate?

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