Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why the heck am I wasting time trying to make sense of the Global Warming debate when I can just lie on the couch and watch Ben-Hur for the 21st time?

Why the primer?

The global warming debate often takes a sense of some great metaphysical struggle, as if it were a cosmic war of two world-views instead of quibbles over measurements and evidence. But this is only for those who are familiar with the debate at all. For the average person(is there actually such a thing?), the debate hardly exists. It is almost completely missing from the pages of the print media, and as for the TV networks, they thrive on announcing one doomsday prediction after the other without nary a skeptical intervention.

But a curious, relatively intelligent layperson might have a sense of something not being complete, something missing from the media-consciousness. The missing 'thing', of course, is the other side of a debate that does not exist, at least in the mainstream media(MSM).

This curious layperson might follow a lead, click on a link and suddenly find himself immersed in the whirlwind of ferocious argumentation, charge and counter-charge that would spin his head.In this tizzy of arguments, where facts, factoids, numbers and moral accusations are used as weapons, our reasonably intelligent layperson would find himself completely lost, like civilian caught between two armies, defenseless, weaponless, and no shelter in sight.

I am such a layperson and I have had deeply frustrating time trying to make sense of this debate(frustration which, I must say, is still continuing), this debate that does not exist in the media or the popular consciousness, but which on the net is more like a war.

Hence this primer. It is meant for a reasoning layperson, who might or might not have a background in science but is willing to put in just that little extra mental effort that leads to comprehension as against complete bafflement.I am trying to lay down some fundamentals, like the first few steps of a long staircase. To get to the top, the most important thing to take that first step.

A natural curiosity -am I qualified to write this primer?
Answer -I am not a climatologist(don't be stupid!). I am not a scientist(of course not!). In fact, I do have a long forgotten background in science but that was long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away and thus is not even worth mentioning. So, is the answer 'no'?

No, the answer is 'yes'! I am a curious layperson as mentioned earlier and I would like to make some sense of this debate since, as we are are incessantly told, the future of the world (and thus of my progeny) depends on it. It is personal. We are told to do this or not to do that to 'save' the planet but I should like to understand before I believe. This primer is a layperson's understanding of the issue for other laypersons. I am sure there will be many mistakes, errors and bloopers. I shall endeavor to correct them when I find them. I am sure that a a truly qualified person would do a much better job if he ever deigned to do it. I dearly wish he would. Clarity is sorely lacking from the public domain on this issue. Daylight badly missed.

About the primer

The primer is divided into parts themewise and I shall be posting the parts in sequence as and when they are finished, starting with Part 1 - Gathering data, measuring temperatures. The sections and paragraphs/sub-sections are numbered in the following format for easy reference-
(1.3.2) which means- Part 1, section 3, subsection 2(of section 3)

I shall be updating the primer when new and more accurate information is available(to me!) , if I notice any error(there could be many) or if some change will make it better. However I do not believe in stealth editing, so all major and minor updates will be added to the end of the primer(except semantic changes like punctuation, spellings, grammar etc. and some changes like correcting broken links).

Since this post will disappear from the main page after a while, the primer shall remain easily accessible through links from the sidebar at the right.

Also, need I say it -suggestions, critiques and help are most welcome!

So now you know-Why the heck am I wasting time trying to make sense of the Global Warming debate when I can lie on the couch and watch Ben-Hur for the 21st time?