My story from believer to skeptic – part 1
Only about four years ago I was a believer in anthropogenic carbon dioxide as the driver of catastrophic global warming. I heard the carbon dioxide story all over the media and most people around me had the same belief. But on the other hand, I always had the impression the claims were probably exaggerated – it most likely was less worse than the media/scientists said it was. But in general, I did believe it.
For example, the winters of 2004 and 2005 were very soft and there was a heatwave in 2006. The media was full of it. They said that this was a clear sign of global warming, that hot summers with heat waves were more common than in the past and soft winters were the new normal (by the way, they now say snowy winters are a sign of global warming too, but that’s another story).
I heard this all around me and I had no doubt that, maybe somewhat exaggerated, in essence it was true.
Looking for answers
Fast forward to 2008 when we had a lousy summer and a cool autumn. I had some time on my hand and I had the question if something was changed in the global warming story. I wondered if the last warmer winters were from anthropogenic origin, maybe this cool summer and colder (normal) autumn reflected some improvement. Maybe even because of less emissions, who knows we learned something from our mistakes…
Okay, I admit it, I was really naive at that time.
I started googling and very soon came across a site called RealClimate. I found a similar question and most importantly, it was answered. I found the answer a bit harsh, something in the line of: global warming is still here, everything was still in line with global warming and it was not really smart to think otherwise. So, here I found my answer, global warming was still here, nothing changed and heat would soon resurface. That was it. I ended my search because the answer fitted my belief perfectly.
But not for long. In a way, I was not satisfied with this answer. I had a problems with the tone in which the answer was given. I was very surprised that a scientist would need to give a sneer to anyone who has a different opinion. At that time I believed there was a overwhelming consensus among scientists and only a few Big Oil-ers denied the truth. But if that was true, there was no reason why anyone from the “proper” side of the debate had to defend himself against someone with an honest question!?!?
Back to square one
Normally I would have stopped there, but I had some time and I really wanted to know. In no time I found myself googling on my question again. At first it was hard, I still believed in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and without even thinking I categorized everyone who doubted global warming as chills of Big Oil or at least people with an hidden agenda. Needless to say I got nowhere, I only looked at one side of the story and ignored the other side completely, this because my belief that “non-believers” couldn’t be right didn’t allow for considering their views or arguments.
Then I had an idea. I knew that the movie An The Inconvenient Truth of Al Gore was about global warming. I didn’t see this movie in 2006, but I knew it had quite some impact on people around me. I wanted to know the real story of global warming and the science behind it, so I assumed this would be a good start for my search. Picture my surprise when I found more sites handling the mistakes of the film than the merits! Bit by bit I saw most of the movie online. I was prepared that there would be some exaggerations in the film to give it more impact, but it was more than I could handle.
This made me more determined to dig even deeper. Slowly I started to look at skeptical sites. The more I did, the more I really got confused. Skeptical sites said temperatures are cyclical in nature and they had proof of this. But pro global warming sites said it was warming at an unprecedented rate because of us humans and they also had proof of it. It seemed both reasonable and I didn’t know what to believe.