A visual map of the arguments for and against human-caused global climate change. I’m fascinated by climate deniers.
How could anyone deny the climate change is happening? What evidence is there? Surely it’s unambiguous? Curious, I investigated the key statements made by climate denialists and sought out the counter-views, as presented by climate research scientists. The result is this image. (This a new and updated version of the spread on Climate Skepticism from my book The Visual Miscellaneum)
I researched this subject in a very particular way. I deliberately chose not speak directly to any climate experts or leading scientists in the field. I used only publicly available web sources. Why? Because I wanted to simulate what it’s like for people trying to learn about climate change online. My conclusion is “what a nightmare”. I was generally shocked and appalled by how difficult it was to source counter arguments. The data was often tucked away on extremely ancient or byzantine websites. The key counter arguments I often found, 16 scrolls down, on comment 342 on a far flung realclimate.org post from three years ago. And even when I found an answer, the answers were excessively jargonized or technical. Most of the info for this image is sourced from Realclimate.org. It’s an amazing blog staffed tirelessly by some of the world’s leading climatologists. Unfortunately, the majority of the writing on there is so scientific and so technical, it makes the website nigh on useless to the casual, curious reader. This has got to be one of the reasons why scientists and leaders are struggling to convince sections of the populace that the threat of climate change is real. Because they’re doing such a terrible job explaining it. (Saying all that, I would like to express my gratitude to Gavin A Schmidt, one of unsung heroes of the web IMHO. His sterling and patient replies to comments, on RealClimate.org in understandable English, have really helped this process.)
This image was a mammoth undertaking, especially for someone like me, unschooled in climate science. So I appreciate your understanding if any errors have crept into the process. If you spot any, please get in touch and I’ll will correct them on the double. In every case, wherever possible, I went back the original data. (I’ve included a ZIP of all the data I’ve collected plus a spreadsheet of all the sources). And all the graphs in the image are generated from the original temperature records and other data sources. Feel free to rifle through and check everything. RealClimate.org are (now) keeping an archive of all the data – if you want even more! http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/ UPDATE 1 (12th Dec 09): There have been a few complaints about the legibility of the image. So I’ve created a version on white instead of black.