Monday, May 29, 2006

Michael Shermer: No Longer a Skeptic on Global Warming

Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, described himself as a doubter when it comes to global warming. But in his column in Scientific American, he describes how he reached his "flipping point" on the topic:
Nevertheless, data trump politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming. My attention was piqued on February 8 when 86 leading evangelical Christians--the last cohort I expected to get on the environmental bandwagon--issued the Evangelical Climate Initiative calling for "national legislation requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions" in carbon emissions.
Then I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where former vice president Al Gore delivered the single finest summation of the evidence for global warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.
Shermer evidently enjoys a good controversy over science and public policy. He has organized a conference this coming weekend at CalTech called The Environmental Wars: the Science Behind the Politics, and it should be a barn burner. He's invited novelist (and clandestine environmental advisor to President Bush) Michael Crichton and ABC reporter and self-described "scourge of the liberal media" John Stossel to address the gathering. Don't worry, Shermer will have some real scientists, including CalTech president David Baltimore, involved in the proceedings.
Shermer is the author of several books including Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design and Why People Believe Weird Things. He will kick off the conference with a talk entitled, “The Flipping Point. The Conversion of an Environmental Skeptic.”


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