After staggering back from the Newsagents yesterday, carrying the vast bulk of the Sunday Times under my arm and idly wondering whether anybody had ever managed to read a whole one; an article caught my eye about global warming. (I thought it was now called 'climate change'- why are things always being renamed? Did it offend someone?)
As I read the text and looked at the pictures, it dawned on me that maybe the reason many people are a bit sceptical about this topic is that those who write about it often don't make their case very clear. (I'm no expert myself)
For example the article claimed that rising levels of atmospheric Carbon dioxide causes global warming. There was no discussion of the possibility that it could be the other way round. (Maybe it can't be, but it would be worth knowing). Also, why did the accompanying temperature graph show drops from 1900 to 1910 and from 1940 to 1950, but the CO2 graph next to it showed rises during those periods? I'm not saying that there aren't simple explanation for these things, but if the Times can't be bothered to tell us what they are, then you can hardly blame readers for being a bit doubtful.
We are told that half a trillion tonnes of CO2 have been added to the atmosphere which sounds like an awful lot, until you realise that we haven't been told how much the atmosphere weighs. We then learn that temperatures have actually gone down between 1998 and 2007- and then that they haven't. I'm sure this must be important, but then there is no mention either of how the average temperature of the Earth is actually measured or how accurate it is (I haven't a clue)
I can't help but think that if I'm asking question like this whilst stuffing my face with toast and regretting my previous nights intake of real ale, then lots of other people must be asking more probing ones. Surely if we are faced with the possibility of mass human extinction then we deserve science articles in our papers that actually make sense.