Arguably, human-induced global climate change is the most contentious environmental issue in public conversation today. There is, however, a discrepancy about where this contention exists. While there is extensive agreement among environmental scientists that human activities are the primary driver behind the current spike in average global temperatures, there is much confusion about the subject by a large swath of the public who are not scientists, especially within the United States. This confusion comes from sources outside of environmental science, and includes media groups, politicians, economists, and even some scientists who lack any climate expertise. Together, these voices spin an opposing view of human-induced global climate change, claiming that the science presented by environmental scientists (specifically, climate researchers) is either faulty, incomplete, or just simply wrong. While these claims have not passed muster under the scientific method discussed in Module 1, they continue to persist in public conversation, often eclipsing the legitimate conclusions of nearly all active climate researchers.
Watch the 1-hour video, FRONTLINE: Climate of Doubt (PBS). This program provides insight into a the opinions of those who oppose the prevailing scientific view that human activity is altering the global climate. As you watch the program, utilize your critical thinking habits of mind to objectively look at these alternative opinions about climate change, and determine for yourself whether or not they have validity in the scientific context. Consider the effect that public opinion has on political efforts to combat environmental problems, and postulate on if there is a way to bridge the discrepancy between the public understanding of climate change and the scientific understanding. Post a minimum of a 250-word summary and personal review, and make any connections with the readings.