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Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),


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Has the global warming debate been settled?

It is clear that the issue of anthropogenic global warming is still not fully accepted by a wide part of the general public and a select few academics. In light of the available data on global warming, is it safe to declare the debate settled or are there reasons to be intelligently sceptical?

The question is not so much whether we should be having a debate about specific aspects of global warming, that much is obvious, but whether we can factually speak of anthropogenic global warming.


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    Feb 17 2011: by definition a debate is on going. besides no it has not.
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      Feb 17 2011: please elaborate...
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        Feb 18 2011: as you said, "In light of the available data on global warming, is it safe to declare the debate settled or are there reasons to be intelligently skeptical?" so by settled you mean, the data is certain right?

        Seeing as how there are so many people on both sides I take that as a good indication that the data isn't certain, thus the debate continues. however, I may err in drawing such a conclusion.

        So it comes down to examining the data it's self. and from what I've seen it's all very very uncertain - some data points too it some data doesn't.

        So the debate is not settle and the data isn't certain. thats what I meant.
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          Feb 19 2011: Your position assumes that all people's opinions on matters of scientific evidence are equally valid, that they have looked up all the available data and have the means to understand this data. It's a dangerous assumption to make. To use one example, science has settled the issue of how species arise and change over time; the theory of evolution, but at the same time, there still is a large amount of people in the US who reject evolution and embrace creationism instead.
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          Feb 19 2011: Matthiew's point is well taken here, and I think addresses Jordan's statement that a debate is ongoing.

          However, I think the real issue that Jordan may be alluding to, is whether a "debate" is the proper mechanism to determine if global warming is anthropogenic or not. Debates are fundamentally subjective -- they are designed for questions to which quantitative data cannot be obtained. This is why they are done in front of audiences, who act as detectors of the direction in which the debate is swinging.

          Science, unfortunately, is also incapable of definitively proving hypotheses -- only disproving alternative hypotheses. Disprove enough alternatives, and you can assume the plausible remaining option is correct.

          Evolution is a great example. Yes, it cannot be demonstrated definitively that every orderly transition between species which we observe within the fossil record is the result of arbitrary accumulation of genetic traits over massive spans of time, and millions of generations of selection and re-selection. But this is the most compelling hypothesis which is not disproved by all available hard data. So we hold it as correct.

          Luckily, we may not need the debate "settled" to pursue prudent, reasonable action -- see a more thorough explanation above.

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