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This is my first diary, so be gentle with me. It is short and to the point. I hope some will agree with me and help me to inform. I apologize for cross posting it but I wrote it as a comment before I realized that I should try creating a short diary.

This term 'believe in global warming' requires some discussion. The implication that there is a belief, as in a religious belief is misleading and incorrect.

The evidence for climate changing is very persusasive. Oceans are warming up and the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is very high. These are scientific facts, reliably measurable and verifyable. There is no belief system associated with this condition. Scientific inquiry does not involve faith, dieties, word-of-mouth assertion, idolatry, assotred zealots, or any other thiestic characteristics.

It's just measurement, inductive and deductive reasoning, hypothesis testing, and the applied human intellect.

Let's stop calling the science of climate change...a 'belief'.

Originally posted to DaveS002 on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:02 AM PST.

Also republished by Headwaters.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good luck on your first diary and you (6+ / 0-)

    are correct.  The data is in so therefore it is not theory.
    Al Gore is a Kossack here and we are delighted to look for his diaries.

    We will look forward to yours as well.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:08:39 AM PST

    •  Actually, if the "data is in" that means (4+ / 0-)

      that it likely is a theory, which is based on data and conclusions drawn therefrom.

      In science, a theory implies support from the very highest level of evidence.

      •  Precisely so. (5+ / 0-)

        E.g. "The theory of relativity". Both the special and general theories are well-established.

        I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. -- S.I. Hayakawa

        by tapu dali on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:30:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, here's more detail from Wikipedia (3+ / 0-)

          Definitions from scientific organizations

          The United States National Academy of Sciences defines scientific theories as follows:

          The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics)...One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed.[13]

          From the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

          A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.[12]

      •  Ok I mean it is a science and not a religion (0+ / 0-)

        i worded that poorly.

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:16:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  T&R and thanks (3+ / 0-)

    That has been a pet peeve of mine too.

  •  "Acceptance" Is Probably a Better Word (4+ / 0-)

    since it lacks the strength of the religious sense of the word "belief."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:26:02 AM PST

    •  Sometimes it is important to review (2+ / 0-)

      some of our "older" thought forming concepts such as that of the "true believer" put forth in:

      "The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements is a 1951 social psychology book by Eric Hoffer that discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism." Wikipedia.

      I think that the false beliefs of the climate change denier in fact emulate the false beliefs of most religions.  Whether it lacks the strength or not remains to be seen.

      "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please" Mark Twain

      by andersr on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:37:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The danger of confusing opinion with fact, (3+ / 0-)

    or belief with fact, is rampant it the US.  How does a policy issue like global climate change, which has such disastrous consequences in store for us, get moved to the science realm and out of the belief realm?

    I am not sure that it can.  But as a (social) scientist, I may be condemned (like Sisyphus) to just watch it happen knowing what the end result will be.


    ps -- sometimes the more simple statements are the most powerful,  Good post.

    "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please" Mark Twain

    by andersr on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:29:46 AM PST

  •  It always bothered me too. (4+ / 0-)

    Not sure how else to put it simply, though.

    "agree with" maybe?

    And it should be "climate change" not "global warming," which the Fox News goofs have been able to ridicule every time it gets cold.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:35:12 AM PST

  •  The issue that I see (5+ / 0-)

    is not so much a belief that there is global climate change but rather whether it's anthropogenic, caused by human action and activity, or part of a normal, natural cycle.  The right certainly embraces the latter when they acknowledge the pattern everyone else sees.    

    Is it caused by carbon emissions and if so is it something we must take action to reverse?  Obviously the science backs this but the right denies this aspect of it.  So it's more a matter of "what is the cause of climate change" as opposed to whether it occurs.

    Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

    by KibbutzAmiad on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:39:22 AM PST

  •  I totally agree (4+ / 0-)

    It is something I comment on often; meaning in conversation or talking back at the TV, not quite so often here online.  I wonder about saying "I believe in science", too, though I'm not sure quite how else one could put it.

    I trust evidence, facts &c.  We're dealing with people who decidedly do NOT.  It's hard to know how to debate that.  I suppose the answer is similar to engaging with someone you don't agree with within the confines of Daily Kos:  Think about the audience, people who read what's written.  Work on convincing them, rather than changing the mind of the person you're arguing with.

    Sometimes it matters who says something, too.  The Pentagon and the insurance industry are both on board with climate change.  Citing them can be useful.

    Another factual area:  Gradually, a few at a time, low-lying islands, especially out in the Pacific, are being abandoned to the sea.  It's also affecting parts of Britain, where a triage approach has led to letting some areas become salt marsh, while others get the Netherlands treatment.  And Bangladesh!  What a world of hurt there!!

    Sad truth is that we're better at reacting to emergencies, rather than being proactive about preventing them.  Kind of like "hitting a bottom" to get serious about AA.  In aggregate, we humans aren't there yet.  Too bad there wasn't even half the concern there is for the largely ginned-up problem of budget deficits.

    What do we make of the contrast between heroic teachers who stand up to a gunman and craven, feckless politicians who won’t stand up to the N.R.A.? -- Nicholas Kristof, NYT --

    by Land of Enchantment on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:57:17 AM PST

  •  In defense of "belief" (5+ / 0-)

    The expression “believe in” is often used in a religious sense.  To avoid that connotation, one should say “believe that,” as in “I believe that there is global warming.”

    In any debate where some proposition P is under dispute, it begs the question to say “P is a fact,” or “I know that P.”  A more reasonable approach is to assert, “I believe that P,” and then given reasons for holding that belief.  It shows respect for the other person’s point of view, which is important, if we wish to persuade him to our own.  Dogmatic assertions like “it is a fact” or “I know” will only make the person with whom you are debating more obstinate, and less amenable to reason.

    Of course, that presupposes that one wishes to persuade, and not merely express contempt for those who think otherwise.

    •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

      To move to words with even fewer connotations, might I suggest

      I think that...

      rather than

      I believe that...

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:27:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, the same thing applies to evolution (3+ / 0-)

    where no "belief" is required (i.e., believing implies taking something on faith rather than evidence . . . . in neither case is that the situation).

    Although it might apply to gravity!  

  •  Agreed. Words are important. (3+ / 0-)

    I've made this point in various places since that phrase became more heavily used, most often in polls.

    It's a side effect of our language, yes, but you either accept AGW theory or you reject it.

    I think  accepting it means you have to get involved in trying to change things or get prepared (assuming the later is possible).

    Rejecting it, I assume, means the person also rejects other science based on his or her bias.

  •  It's like saying "belief in" photosynthesis (5+ / 0-)

    "Do you believe photosynthesis is real?"

    "No! God reaches down and fills every little leaf with ATP. The Calvin cycle is a liberal hoax!"

    Of course, if the oil, coal, and nuclear companies felt that photosynthesis was cutting into their profit margins this is exactly what we'd be hearing from them and their hired stooges.

  •  a fine framing effort (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eowyn9, Land of Enchantment

    Welcome to the wonderful world of writing diaries.

    I appreciate your intent (as I perceive it). I've been interested for years in environmental issues and in the ways we use our language for social influence. So, thanks for contributing your thoughts on this.

    I think it's useful to think about the ways we try to distinguish and apply concepts of facts, opinions, and beliefs, as this diary does.

    I've come to value a different approach, a different frame from a different mental model about belief. I find it helps to get past some limitations I've encountered when trying to maintain distinctions between those concepts.

    Rather than try to distinguish the concept of "belief" from those other terms, I use it as a super-category to encompass them all. I've come think of most of the thoughts that go through our heads as beliefs. It's just that some beliefs match up better with the external universe than others. The belief that 2+2=4 seems to be very consistent with the external universe, for example.

    We're accustomed to witnessing arguments about beliefs, it seems. Even "facts", however, seem to be subject to dispute more often than we seem to think they should. I've found that the often-quoted statement about not being entitled to one's own facts does a poor job of describing, explaining, and predicting the behaviors associated with our concept of "fact". Regardless what we're entitled to, it seems to me we all carry in our heads own mental models and beliefs. We just do. (In other words, that's a belief of mine that I think has pretty good, consistent evidence to support.)

    Seeing our attempts at communication, and our attempts at social influence, with "beliefs" as an encompassing concept helps me to make better sense of various arguments. Often it also opens up new options for re-framing or developing alternate approaches to influence others.

    I noticed another new diarist recently who seems interested in language frames and George Lakoff's work in that line. You might want to keep an eye out for that. You might find it relevant and useful.

    Thanks again for contributing your perspective.


    Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

    by etbnc on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 06:57:55 AM PST

  •  Google "latest reports on global warming" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    and look at at results. The second and third results say global warming stopped 16 years ago. Now of course, everyone here would challenge, laugh or investigate this. The average joe, not so much. The people who DO NOT want to believe humans caused AGW are not going to believe it. The first cold day to them is irrefutable proof that it is not occurring. On the other hand, there are more people coming to the realization that something is terribly wrong. The skiers who have to go further away for their sport, the farmer who wonders if this year will be floods or drought, the hunter who sees the decline of trees in the forest, the people who have lost power repeatedly due to freak storms and this year the Hurricane Sandy victims. We just need to be as forceful as we can on this problem to mitigate the damage that will occur in the future. People took to the streets to protest the bankers, but not our own home, the planet Earth. Earth day will be here before we know it, let's make this one memorable and news worthy. Our future generations very lives depend on us at least trying to do more.

  •  When I hear that someone "doesn't believe" in... (0+ / 0-)

    global warming (or whatever), my response is: "Fine. Global warming doesn't believe in you. What else don't you believe in? Gravity? Go jump off a cliff and see how that works for you."

    What was is that Senator Moynihan said? "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts."

    Climate change is real. Deal with it.

  •  This seems a little disengenuous. You ascribe the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    disinterested spectator

    "belief" you find distasteful to those who do not believe in climate change.

    Let's stop calling the science of climate change...a 'belief'.
    Leaving aside that many reputable people often have divergent beliefs as to this or that theory of causation, I have read or heard literally no one who disputes that global climate changes, or that, indeed, it is changing now. The geologic record alone suggests that it has been changing forever. I was born in Arizona over a half century ago, and a little study of the Grand Canyon since I was in grade school convinced me.

    The beliefs that are at odds relate to what do do about it, which in turn relate back to causation. Some believe humans are the culprit, others the verities of the cosmos by way of our sun.

    As far as I'm concerned, the only belief that should be dismissed out of hand is that we know what the hell is going on with enough certainty to immediately reorient world-wide human endeavors and behaviors via who-knows-what political mechanism. Reasonable anticipation and mitigation are never out of place. It is the beliefs of what these should be that is contentious.

    •  Disagree, and you motivated me to Rec the diary (0+ / 0-)

      Your comment is science-denial. You agree that climate changes, but not, i take it, that we know the causes.

      We know. [please don't waste time telling me I can't use the word "know". (maybe we live inside the Matrix etc etc). We both know the everyday meaning of words well enough].

      It's physics. Planetary physics, physics applied to planet earth. There is a vast scientific literature on the subject, and vast quantities of data. I take it you choose to not agree with (or believe) physics in this case.

      I take it that you say we don't know enough to have good reason to change how we get energy. Yes we do.

      Check it all for yourself, starting at

  •  There may be some misunderstanding -- (0+ / 0-)

    some commenters think ( I think) that you are not denying science if you agree that climate is not constant, but consider it up in the air as to whether whatever amount of change you acknowledge is or is not just natural.

    Planet earth is about 30 degrees C warmer on average than a bare rock planet (or a planet with an atmosphere that does not intercept radiation, but is transparent to all wave lengths) at our distance from the sun would be.

    There is something in the air that impedes the escape of heat. We know what it is and how it works. It is called greenhouse gases. We have increased these gases a lot. CO2 is the driver. When it increases, the planet warms. This leads to faster evaporation of water, hence more water vapor in the air on average. this vapor is another greenhouse gas. There are other factors too, but I am not trying to write a book.

    When certain changes are made to our atmosphere, physics tells us to expect certain results. Data say yes, physics works.

    What then of natural variations? The best way to understand their part is: the observed directional change in climate is due to human-caused climate drivers plus or minus natural variations. - reasonably plus or minus 20 percent - search for "between 80 to 120%" here

    Natural variations have been slightly on the cooling side in recent years, due to a preponderance of La Niña over El Niño. (actually this puts a little more of the warming into the oceans and a little less into the surface environment that we live in). Surface warming continues all the same.
    See here
    and here
    for details.

  •  Denialism - a quick review (0+ / 0-)

    Denialism is explained and explored here:

    Although climate change starts scientifically as planetary physics, few people want to talk about physics. Environmental consequences are interesting to most of us though.

    Denialism is largely a business practice to delay (or avoid entirely if possible) ceasing to harm the environment. (also know to kossacks as externalizing costs).

    Without going through the whole deck of cards, the three main steps (often done all at once, contradictions notwithstanding) are:

    A. It's not happening
    B. It's not our fault
    C. Changing our ways would cost us money, an outrage.

    all really aimed at the big D
    D. Delay

    If after all these years you still think "in so far as climate change is happening, it may be just natural. We don't know enough to justify changing how we get energy" then industrial strength smoke screens have gotten to you.

  •  "global warming" (0+ / 0-)

    is actually code for "anthropogenic global warming"

    the fossil fuel lobby has a game plan:

    1.  Anthropogenic global warming is NOT happening!

    --until evidence proves that warming is happening

    2.  Global warming IS happening but it ISN't caused by people.

    --Continue this for as long as absolutely possible, find other crackpot theories that place the blame on other normal activities, show how similar temperatures have been seen at least once in the last 10,000 years-- so it must be "normal".

    3.  Ok, Global warming IS happening and we can now prove that it is caused by greenhouse gasses.

    --advocate for adaption and the continued use of fossil fuels to forward the benefit of society and to prevent undue suffering in the developing world.  Any effect produced by mitigation activity (getting off fossil fuels) will be harmful to humanity


    --it is too late to do anything about it now.

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