So without going into all the ways that data might be skewed, or partial, or incorrectly interpreted, let's just acknowledge that science is constantly having to correct its assumptions because of new discoveries.
This is why I've never gotten adamant about either side of the climate change debate. While the Keeling curve that Al Gore used to demonstrate our impact on the climate shows increasing CO2 since 1958, charts like this one show the rise and fall of CO2 and temperatures over the last 800,000 years. While the two look like they're correlated to me (at least in that chart), this seems to suggest that this has been going on long before modern technology, unless Atlantis, Lemuria, and plenty of other lost civilizations were the causes of past rises in CO2.
And all of this assumes we're measuring the past correctly, doesn't it?
So for Earth Day 2014, I talked about it from a different angle: we don't need to prove whether pollution is or isn't creating climate change to show that it's a bad idea. Because either way, it's just a bad idea to live in one's own filth. I used a hot tub as an analogy, pointing out that no one would sit in a hot tub with someone else debating whether the temperature had just raised a degree, or whose fault it was, if one of the people had just gone to the bathroom in the tub. They'd just be scrambling to get out.
Only when Earth is our hot tub, we don't have an easy way to get out of the tub!
So I thought it was interesting when I ran across an article the other day showing how a top physicist, Freeman Dyson -- who's a Democrat and likes Obama -- is just in awe of how scientists have ignored data to embrace the popularity of human influence on climate change. Yet he acknowledges a different problem, and the obvious one: pollution. He rightly says:
Part of the problem is the Democrats’ conflation of “pollution” (a genuine problem) with “climate change” (a natural phenomenon quite beyond mankind’s ability to control).
So I wonder what would happen with the environmental movement if the message changed. Right now it's saying, "Hey, something bad is going to happen in the future" (something people never seem to act on) "if you keep polluting your world. Water levels will rise and such." What if the message became, "Eww, dudes ... you're swimming in your own filth. No wonder you're suffering from so much disease!"
What do you think? Would it matter? Would we care enough to invest more in a clean world? Or are we already investing quickly enough?