The Sciences

What is Basic Climate Science Literacy?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyDec 22, 2009 1:30 PM

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In the last post, I asked whether we should go back to basics on climate science. I also wondered how to do so in a way that wouldn't be a waste of time and energy, by requiring me to re-write things that have been written a hundred times. But I may have found a solution: NOAA's Climate Program Office has done a nice brochure about the basics of climate science literacy, which are enumerated as the following:

CLIMATE LITERACY: The Essential Principles of Climate Science

  1. The Sun is the primary source of energy for Earths climate system.

  2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.

  3. Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate.

  4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes.

  5. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling.

  6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.

  7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.

Anyone who wants can read the brochure

for further explanation of each point. I actually am surprised that the greenhouse effect is not one of these 7 major points, but is subsumed under 1. But anyway, it is interesting to contemplate whether climate "skeptics" take issue with any of these basics, or whether they are indeed "climate science literate" by this standard. For after all, the complicated data and "hockey stick" type issues that "skeptics" seem to seize upon don't appear to have much to do with these basics; and yet these basics are all you need to know that global warming is a serious concern and that we stand to get fried. So perhaps finding clarity about who accepts the basics can provide a firm foundation for further discussion. So let's hear it, "skeptics": Has NOAA gotten anything wrong in its attempt to spread climate science literacy on a pretty rudimentary level?

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