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Greenland is melting the west is on fire
But don't ever stop praying for rain
It's a curious place between hope and desire
Different gods, but the prayer is the same
Mary Chapin Carpenter


We are all guilty of subjectivity, or bias, even the "cold-blooded" scientist. It's only human. The difference is that scientific data are subjected to peer review and confirmation before acceptance as "truth." The lay opinion, often based on an internet search of "junk science," is not subjected to review. We can believe what we want. So scientific dogma is always wilting under the glare of intense scrutiny, a source of constant criticism. Yet there is no shame in changing one's mind if new data demand it. Uncertainty is inevitable on the front lines of any search for truth, but science will ultimately triumph.

Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, consisting of hundreds of climate scientists from around the world, released a fifth report in 25 years. In it they proclaimed, more loudly than ever, that global warming is a fact, and that man has contributed substantially to it in the last half of the 20th century by burning fossil fuels. And yet, despite many years of mounting evidence, half of all Americans refuse to accept either premise. This is significantly more than in other developed countries.

Much research has been done in the past 25 years, most recently out of Yale University, to explain why Americans are so good at "burying their heads in the sand." Simplistically we fall into one of two tribes. The first believes that industry often behaves badly and must be regulated by government. The second believes that government is the problem and should stop meddling in private affairs. Whichever tribe we belong to we want very badly to be accepted.

So it would seem that peer pressure does not fade with high school graduation at all. It is alive and well at the club, at church, in local bars, and on the golf course. To remain in the graces of our group we will turn a blind eye to science if necessary, especially when it doesn't appear to cause any immediate harm. So we say no to climate change because the urgency is hard to grasp, the effects nebulous for the moment. And we can even change our minds later if we need to.

Yet being right does matter, and science will ultimately get it right. Climate change is real, and so is evolution. Vaccines are a good thing and the moon rocks are not fake. The evidence for all of this is overwhelming and accepting it is the right thing to do. This will allow us to maintain our role as the dominant species and continue to adapt to an ever changing earth. This volume presents a viewpoint based on the current best scientific evidence, and is always subject to change with further research.



© Danny Kimberlin 2015