9 Responses to “Do I “believe” in climate change?”

  1. Rachel Henderson Says:

    I recently had a heated discussion with a climate sceptic friend. In the course of this, I said that I believe climate change is man-made. I was then challenged for using the term belief. On reflection, as I’m a non-scientist I can’t claim to understand the science but I do believe those scientists who say that the evidence indicates to them it is man-made. My friend on the other hand believes there is a conspiracy and that there is not a true consensus of opinion among scientists. We’re not going to discuss this any more 😉

    • andyrussell Says:


      Good point. I realised that this post was going a bit far in the direction of semantics so didn’t mention non-experts discussing their beliefs about science, which is strictly what the ClimateSafety post was about. But then you made the point I would have: that you believe the scientists, not the science. Is the problem that everyone is supposed to have an opinion about stuff despite the fact that they haven’t looked at the evidence in any great depth? In this situation, any media debate between climate scientists and climate change “sceptics” comes down to little more than a popularity contest…

  2. Andy Says:

    I’m a believer in climate change, due to the info I have learnt from and since reading your blogs.

    Just a question though. In the past scientists thought they were right based on the evidence they had, but in so many cases they drew different conclusions from scientists who today have more info. Where in the timeline of fully understanding climate do you think we are?

    • andyrussell Says:

      Wow, great question!

      Well, the first thing that springs to mind is that a lot of people look back to the 1970s and say that climate scientists thought that a new ice age was imminent. This would be a nice example of your progression of scientific understanding except that this is a bit of a myth. I think that there were a couple of press articles and a BBC documentary at the time and that was it. William Connolley, formerly of the British Antarctic Survey, is very interested in this idea and he’s co-written a nice piece for the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society examining the origin of that particular myth.

      Perhaps the next point to make is that climate science is a relatively new discipline and there is still a lot to find out. In the “belief” post I linked to a feature in Nature that discusses the current big gaps in climate science but I think it is behind a paywall, which is a shame because it’s a good piece. Here’s a very quick summary.

      The major areas that are picked out are:

      Regional climate prediction

      We still don’t have sufficient computing power to run models at high enough resolution to make projections on the scale that would be useful to policy makers


      Projections of precipitation patterns are really hard to make as they depend on temperature changes, circulation changes, radiative balance changes and pollution (and, therefore, cloud condensation nuclei) changes. Yet precipitation changes will have the biggest impact on society.


      The effect of aerosols (i.e. small solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in the atmosphere) is a big unknown. Different types do different things and its not really certain whether they have a generally cooling effect – by reflecting away solar radiation – or a warming effect – by promoting more cloud growth and trapping more terrestrial heat.

      The tree-ring controversy

      This relates mostly to the “hockey stick” graph and the reliability of the palaeoclimate data we use to put our current climate into perspective. It’s important that we learn from past climate changes as we only have one atmosphere and can’t do experiments with it but it is not easy to get palaeoclimate data (tree rings, ice cores, sediment cores) or to interpret them.

      But the really important science on the greenhouse effect and our impact on it are well established. So, overall, my view is that we have a lot to learn but we know more than enough to make big and necessary policy decisions.

  3. moriahbethany Says:

    There is certainly a lot of misinformation laying around. It doesn’t help that we have incidences like the “leaked” emails from scientists who were apparently trying to tweak reports in favor of global warming. Climate change is under the microscope right now. I personally have done my research and fully believe that while some warming is due to the natural cycle of the earth, we are accelerating the process. As for a solution to the problem, I believe that there is a lot of ignorance on this subject. Part of what we can do in addition to recycling and being conservative is to have this conversation with people who might not be as informed..respectfully of course.

  4. Benno Hansen Says:

    Fully agree. Which is why I wrote Don’t believe the truth back in Sep 09 😉

  5. On “the real holes in climate science” « Andy Russell's Blog Says:

    […] By andyrussell [This post is based on a question I got in response to a previous post but thought it deserved a short post on its own as there's a few interesting […]

  6. Solar Spotlight Says:

    Thanks for the interesting post, I will return to read your blog soon.

  7. Flailing my arms wildly « David Robertson Says:

    […] to important issues by people from all walks of life. One example is Andy Russell’s quick dissection of the word ‘belief’ in relation to climate change. Personally, I’d say I’m […]

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