A reader writes:
Having just finished my PhD coursework in environmental science and policy, I can speak to this morning's dissenter's many misunderstandings about how "climate change science" works. Like creationists, the writer seems to be under the illusion that scientific debates are pretty much the same things as political debates, and "climate change scientists" is just another political camp, which includes everyone from Al Gore to the IPCC.
NONE of the research presented in any of my readings, lectures or seminars claims that "the world will end" or that "winter will be something only old people remember". Even media figures like Al Gore and scientists who've tried to wear the hat of media figures haven't made such claims, though they both often simplify or overstate the certainties in scientific work.
What we do know is that climate change will have different effects in different places and at different times. More extreme seasonal fluctuations, both hot and cold, have been discussed for decades. Certain places will probably get drier, others wetter. Climate science often focuses on particular problems in particular places; coral reefs will almost certainly disappear as ocean acidification increases. It will be harder to grow grapes in California. Monsoon rains will probably lessen in India.
Like you, Andrew, the horse I have in this race is called "not everything is he-said, she-said politics". One of the few things we humans can be proud of is that we've set up an industry of knowledge-production that has consistently led us to robust truths. In scientific discussion, I have to be careful about my arguments - I can't make outrageous claims like calling end-of-life planning "death panels" and keep my credibility. Moreover, I don't have the luxury of pointing to some snow and claiming that's satisfactory evidence climate change isn't happening, or is happening, or anything.