2011-04-26 11:11:39Treehugger transcript #4: Understanding Climate Denial: Cherry Picking
John Cook

There's a scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. This is because there's a consensus of evidence, with many observations pointing to a single, coherent conclusion. To deny the consensus, you have to deny the evidence. This is most often done by cherry picking - rummaging through the full body of evidence, carefully selecting those pieces of data that give a desired impression and sweeping the rest of the evidence off the table.

Let's look at a few examples. We all know glaciers are retreating, right? Not according to climate deniers. They'll point out a growing glacier in New Zealand or South America. But at the same time, they ignore the vast number of glaciers that are shrinking. This tactic of cherry picking isolated glaciers is not so amusing when you consider the hundreds of millions of people who rely on glaciers for drinking water.

Another example is recent cold winters. Climate deniers, including prominent politicians, have used recent cold winters to argue global warming isn't happening. But people need to realise it's not called "my backyard warming". It's global warming. In 2010, while some regions saw unusually cool temperatures, the globe as a whole experienced record warming.

The most common way that climate deniers mislead is by cherry picking, by giving up only small pieces of the puzzle. To properly understand whats happening to our climate, we need to consider the whole picture - the full body of evidence.

2011-04-26 12:07:02Comments
Dana Nuccitelli
I'd change sweeping off the table to 'under the rug', and 'the vast number of glaciers' to 'most of the glaciers around the world.'