January 26, 2012
When I was visiting my friends in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago, we had dinner at a local mall just before I headed to the airport for my flight home to South Africa. As we were leaving the mall, I bought myself a few children’s books in Arabic. After I finish up my PhD in April, I’m hoping to work through these Arabic children’s books as a way to help me dust off and improve my Arabic. As I was selecting books in Arabic, my eye caught this very scary book on global warming. I think this book will give children– and possibly also adults– nightmares. But maybe that’s a good thing considering that climate change denialism is rampant throughout the world, especially the United States. Coming from the US, I was actually very impressed that South Africa has frequent government-sponsored ads (billboards, radio ads, TV ads) that try to educate people about climate change, probably largely because of the recent climate change talks in Durban.
Climate change is scary, just like the cover of the above children’s book. Having 7 billion humans on the planet emitting tons of CO2 and using up all kinds of other natural resources is scary. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are affecting Earth’s climate and this is a cause for concern. Period. People are welcome to argue about the details, such as just how much sea level might rise and how badly different cities will be affected. People are welcome to argue about the best ways to combat climate change. People are welcome, even, to argue about if we should do anything at all to combat anthropogenic climate change. I have no problem with productive, intelligent discussions on the matter, and I respect people’s opinions on how much– or little– action we should take to combat anthropogenic climate change. However, I do have a problem if you say anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist. Anthropogenic climate change is a reality, and denying that anthropogenic climate change exists is just as bad (scientifically) as denying that evolution exists. However, an alarmingly high number of people deny that anthropogenic climate change is real. In fact, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an organization that for years has advocated and fought to have the scientific theory of evolution taught in schools in the United States, is now tackling the issue of teaching climate science in schools as well. Bravo, NCSE. I wish you well in your endeavors to educate people about climate science. If you run into trouble making people understand why teaching climate science is important, maybe you can scare them by buying a few million copies of the scary global warming book above. Although perhaps there’s some junk science in there (as far as I know, the Earth isn’t going to catch on fire as a result of climate change…), so maybe it would be best to stick with the excellent material already on your website.