The Real Parameters Of The Global Warming Debate

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 15 2013 @ 10:42am

One way to think about climate change:

Elsewhere, Mark Boslough pushes back on the idea that "the science is settled" on the question of climate change, citing the need to "recognize the difference between a scientific debate and other forms of disagreement":

The calculation of the mass of CO2 produced from burning a gallon of gasoline was the subject of a vigorous debate on the Albuquerque Journal letters page a couple years ago. This is a question that a decent high school chemistry student should be able to answer, but the highly-opinionated letter writers were not able to resolve their differences–despite the fact that reaction stoichiometry is indeed settled science. Likewise, a competent high school physics student understands how the greenhouse effect works, which is based on the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy). This is also settled science.

He continues:

What is not settled is the degree of climate change.

In the peer-reviewed scientific literature there is a healthy, open, honest, and vigorous scientific debate. The best scientific estimate of the amount of warming (when CO2 levels double, which is likely to happen this century) is about 6 ºF. There are those who disagree, and have published the basis for their disagreement. The most useful assessments are not limited to the best estimate, but include quantification of the uncertainty, which is one of the hallmarks of honesty in science. There is a broad range of possibility, from below 4 ºF to greater than 11 ºF.