I very much enjoyed the two articles dealing with climate change, one by Steve Sherwood and the other by Richard Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol. Being an experimentalist, I follow what the data tell me; in the face of the overwhelming evidence, I have no doubt that humans are affecting global climates.

Sherwood raised three critical points: inconvenient notions that disrupt our view of the world, logical fallacy, and Western lifestyles. Perhaps the most important is logical fallacy, in which people are often inconsistent. On the one hand, we “believe” we are capable of shaping the world around us, as with using gene splicing to create new organisms. Yet nearly in the same breath, many people say it’s not possible for us to affect global climates. Situations like that are prime examples of logical disconnect.

Without consistent logic, it’s easy for new evidence to shatter “notions that make us feel safe,” as Sherwood states. When we don’t feel safe, we often fight back to preserve our sense of safety. To that concern, add the consumerism common to many Western lifestyles. Flawed logic makes it easy to justify choices that involve, for example, the use of more and more energy, even when the evidence says such a choice is causing harm. Asking Westerners to change their lifestyle puts them in an uncomfortable place. Yet that is where we need to be if we are to make the necessary changes to limit future human-caused climate change.

The entire article by Somerville and Hassol discusses the important issue of communication. Without efficient and effective communication, the connections between human-caused climate change, logic, notions of safety, and lifestyles will be lost. As the authors state, 97% of those most actively publishing in the field of climate change agree that it’s human caused (from their reference 4). That is no doubt a consensus, yet the public thinks otherwise. Imagine if the US Congress voted with a combined 97% agreement on an issue! No one would claim a lack of consensus. Yet why do people consider there is no consensus in the scientific community regarding climate change? Poor communication and information manipulation lead to the logic fallacies that allow people to continue to make lifestyle choices with negative consequences simply because they need to feel safe.

To approach this whole topic from a different perspective, what harm would it do to reduce our consumption of natural resources and production of carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases, and harmful airborne particulates? Choices that preserve the diversity of plants, animals, cultures, and habitats are much more beneficial than harmful. The core question we need to ask ourselves is whether we want our choices, and hence our actions, to enhance or harm the world. Do we or don’t we take action? I choose to take action.