Global Warming: Man or Myth?

Scientists can also wear their citizen hats

Stephen Schneider in Attack of the Climate Zombies

with 10 comments

Stephen Schneider Engages Climate Skeptics

Click Image to Watch the Movie

The late Stephen Schneider was a hero to many of us because he believed it was the duty of scientists to engage the public on their terms and he was brilliant in doing so.  The video above was taped a few weeks before he died this summer.  Dr. Schneider appeared on stage in front of 57 self-described climate skeptics with the hope that he might change some minds.  The video is an excellent example of just how good he was at communicating climate science and just how poorly informed the general public is on this critical issue.  


The skeptics in the room appeared very sure of their positions despite the fact that every issue they raised is a climate science zombie.  That is, these issues have been debunked over and over and over again, yet they keep rising from the dead.  Dr. Schneider answered with patience and with as much simplicity as one can expect without completely leaving the science.  The zombies raised that night included, among others:  

  1. Scientists are getting rich from grant money.
  2. Temperatures in the past were much colder than today even with higher CO2 levels than today.
  3. Nature emits much more CO2 than man so manmade CO2 cannot be driving climate warming.
  4. Bad siting of the US temperature recording stations is causing apparent warming.
  5. Some glaciers are advancing so how can there be warming?

Some members of the audience thought that Dr. Schneider used too much science jargon and could have simplified the science more.  After watching the show I do not think Dr. Schneider could possibly have simplified the science any better than he did.  In the words of Barry Bickmore, geochemistry professor at Brigham Young University,  

It struck me again how some of these people complained at the end that Schneider’s arguments had gone right over their heads.  If they can’t understand what anyone is saying, how can they think they have anything approaching an informed opinion?  

Apparently, as with human zombies, climate zombies are good at eating brains……


Written by Scott Mandia

September 13, 2010 at 6:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Responses

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  1. Yeah, Schneider’s arguments had gone right over their heads. Having an “informed opinion” often includes the totally unjustified view that any reasonably cluey person can understand anything at first reading.

    It’s true a clever person can understand lots of things – after they’ve put in a reasonable amount of work. In the case of physics, reasonable suddenly adds up to unreasonable for anyone who has a life and hasn’t previously learnt the material. I’m sure that I could understand the history and complexity of wood carving in the New Guinea highlands if I put in enough work. But I haven’t so I have to accept the views of respected people who tell me the results of their studies.

    For all that these folks wanted to appear knowledgeable, it all falls rather flat when they confuse latitude and altitude. Schneider being gracious allowed as how his accent might have confused the words – I didn’t hear him say altitude.

    Doubly sad. The feeble and futile blatherings from the assembled nay-sayers added to the knowledge that this wonderful, patient, suffering man had died before we got to see him in this particular outing.


    September 13, 2010 at 7:27 am

  2. How was the audience selected?

    Mandia: The program did not specify how people were selected other than that they were self-described skeptics.


    September 13, 2010 at 9:09 am

  3. This is off-topic but, as usual, I don’t know where to post it.

    If anyone might interested in reading a few pages of elementary information about sea level rise and New Orleans, please contact me off-list at

    Hunt Janin

    September 13, 2010 at 11:55 am

  4. This is a good example of the point that I was attempting at in my last post. This “climate debate” is no more a scientific debate than the evolution/creation debate is.
    Here Schneider makes it clear that it’s not a case of education – for the information is out there and in vast quantities. By diverting scepticism from an informed scientific basis and fostering a public/political debate, the situation has become a stale-mate where the “two camps” are arguing over their beliefs – one that is built on the scientific evidence and the other on a whole range of pseudo-science and political nonsense.
    The problem, therefore, must be deeper rooted in the general public’s ability to critically evaluate ideas and evidence rather than being informed.


    September 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm

  5. Another off-topic question, if I may (again, I don’t know where else to post it):

    Where can I learn what, if anything, Miami plans to do to deal with the likelihood of 1 meter of sea level rise by 2100?

    Hunt Janin

    September 15, 2010 at 9:57 am

  6. Thanks for the above, Scott.

    For all other readers: should you wish to read and comment critically a few pages I’ve drafted on Miami and sea level rise, please contact me at

    Hunt Janin

    September 18, 2010 at 8:56 am

  7. Off-topic yet again, I fear.

    If anyone has any insights into how future sea level rise will affect New York City, please share them with me off-line at

    Hunt Janin

    September 21, 2010 at 5:17 am

  8. Thanks very much, Scott, for the above.


    Hunt Janin

    September 21, 2010 at 7:26 am

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