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COLUMN: Stop trying to debunk science

The Book of Paul

staff writer

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 18:01

I realize it's human nature to want a quick and easy answer to important questions — something we can view a few short newscasts on or read a few articles about, quickly digest our short-form analysis and commit the so-called facts to memory. This shouldn't come as a surprise to me; after all, here in the United States, we're faced with simplifying symbols that we connect to everything.

The color red generally means "danger" or "stop." Yellow is often associated with "caution" or advises us to "yield," and green is the color that signals "safety" and tells us to "proceed" — thus the old adage of giving something the green light.

But while it's easy to take something at face value, that approach may not always be the correct one. No, the quick-and-easy examination of complex issues rarely brings about truth and full understanding — if it brings about any intellectual understanding whatsoever.

Take the infamous polar vortex — Mother Nature's answer to the SyFy Channel's notorious B movie "Sharknado" — that brought pandemonium to much of the country last week. Parts of the Northeast and Midwest reached sub-zero temperatures while many locations throughout the West and South reached record lows. Airports were backed up as travelers were left living out much more somber adaptations of Tom Hanks's "The Terminal," taking refuge in dismal surroundings when their flights were canceled.

By historical accounts, we here in Utah have had a fairly mild winter so far this year — when it comes to snow and cold rather than these terrible inversions, a subject for another column entirely. That being said, I'll agree with the majority of the country: It's cold, and it's cold enough. But rest assured my fellow Aggies, there has been an exorbitant amount of hot air coming over the horizon just in time to warm us all up.

These country-wide winter lows have brought about the boisterous oversimplifications of many pundits and talking heads who claim — because cold is the opposite of warm, duh — these chilly conditions clearly disprove and debunk the idea of global warming.

The great pill-popping patriot — a "Triple P," if you will — Rush Limbaugh even went as far as to say the liberal media invented the polar vortex as part of its agenda to cover up the truth that the polar ice caps aren't melting.

Let's go ahead and lay it all on the table: Climate change and global warming are real, and they're now. These aren't things we can ignore anymore, and they certainly aren't things our generation won't have to deal with.

An abundant amount of evidence suggests human actions are contributing to a warming global climate year after year. A report released in September by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society examined a dozen weather events from March through May 2012 that were considered to be out-of-the-ordinary, concluding that nearly 35 percent of extreme temperature highs in the eastern U.S. have been caused by man-made factors.

More than ever, experts are reaching a scientific consensus on contributing factors. A 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found more than 90 percent of the world's scientists — the leading authorities on such matters — determined the human race and its activities to be the dominant cause of these global changes.

So what does all this mean? It's simple: we need to stop trying to debunk scientific evidence that has been proven and studied by the world's best and brightest, and we need to stop trying to explain away the truth just because we've had to wear a few extra layers of clothing recently.

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