An opinion leader’s global warming epiphany

One of the most popular bloggers in my part of the software industry, Electronic Design Automation (EDA), is Karen Bartleson. In an entry about the annual and influential EDP Workshop, she mentioned

A special part of EDP is the beach walks. There’s nothing like a refreshing walk with stimulating conversations among friends. It was during one of these walks that a colleague convinced me that global warming is real.

In a comment, I asked her to tell more about that experience, and she was kind enough to respond here that

My coworker and I took the beach walk during a break, and I think the venue was important. It brought to mind the environment (perhaps we saw trash on the beach) in a way that sitting inside a building couldn’t. My coworker spoke about global warming, and I spoke about the garbage island that floats in the Pacific and is larger than the size of Texas and growing. I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if global warming was caused by humans or if it was a natural change phenomenon. I hadn’t seen evidence first-hand of global warming caused by people. He asked me if I’d seen the garbage island first hand. I said “no”. He then countered with “if you believe in the garbage island that you’ve never seen, why don’t you believe in manmade global warming?”

Not exactly a mathematical proof, but it was enough for me.

Implicitly, I had asked Karen how she came to accept a scientific reality that her mind would rather have denied, and she didn’t flinch. I think her open, honest introspection was very gracious. We’re playing for big stakes on this issue, and there’s no time for vanity.

I owe her some honest introspection. In my case, I’ve never felt the urge to deny the reality of global warming, so for the reasons here, I conclude that I must have some motives to want to believe it. I’ll think more about what they might be.

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1 Comment

  1. According to Mick Richfield, “Make sure you don’t *want* to believe anything. Make all your beliefs prove themselves to you.”

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