Today I started the day by watching some Swedish telly, Gomorron Sverige I think the show was called. Three guests got to comment on the news year that just passed. They were asked for their nominations in categories such as Most Over-Reported News Story, Most Important Public Figure and the like. One of them nominated climate change for the category Most Under-Reported News Story. Immediately one of the others blurted out that he thinks that climate change is exaggerated and has received too much attention in media. He was told that there now is proof that large portions of the polar ice has melted (25% was mentioned, though I didn’t catch whether it was an increase of 25% or if 25% was gone, anyway, it doesn’t really matter here) and that therefore this is a very real problem. In answer to this the climate-change doubter mentioned that he has been keeping an eye on the water level at the pier near his summer place and there has been no change over the years. So, if climate change is real and the polar ice is melting, where does the water go? My initial reaction against this line of ressoning seems to have been shared by the person who initially brought up the subject, “How could he argue against climate change? And with such a simplistic argument as well?” Then I was disappointed to hear that the only counter argument basically boiled down to “But, it doesn’t work that way” and “How can you argue against all the scientists?” First I was disappointed in her for not providing any answers, then I grew more disappointed in myself as I realised that had I been sitting next to this climate-change doubter myself at a dinner I wouldn’t hve been able to provide a stronger argument myself.
How should a counter-argument be constructed? What scientific ideas and proofs should be used to point out the fallacy of the “pier argument”?
I can think of these:
- There is evidence of climate change on a macro level, his argument doesn’t explain those away. All he’s really saying is that on a micro level, and in a very specific geographical location, measuring only the water level, he can’t find any evidence for climate change.
- It’s probably also simple to point out the lack of scientific rigor in his methods. Somehow though, I feel this is a bad way to try to convince anyone.