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A Climate of Trust

Is global warming a serious threat? According to a recent ACNielsen survey, only 42 percent of U.S. citizens think so. What's more, Americans are hesitant to believe that human activities cause climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wants to convince us otherwise.

On February 2, the IPCC will release its latest assessment on global climate conditions. This year's report will contain some strong evidence that global warming is real -- and that humans are to blame. IPCC chairperson Rajendra Pachauri said, "I hope this report will shock people."

The report will try to "shock" us with predictions of higher temperatures that will melt Artic glaciers and of rising seas that will engulf entire Pacific islands. One included prophecy: average global temperatures will rise by 2° to 4.5° Celsius over "pre-industrial levels" by the year 2100. According to Pachauri, the numbers speak for themselves. "You really can’t get a more authentic and a more credible piece of scientific work," he says.

Well, let's take a closer look at those numbers. To be sure, a 2-4.5°C rise in global temperatures gets our attention. But the shock subsides when you consider that the projected increase will have occurred since "pre-industrial" times. In case you have forgotten, the industrial era started around 1750. That means the projected temperature rise will have occurred over a span of 350 years. With these types of fear-mongering warnings, it's no wonder most Americans fail to take global warming seriously.

The IPCC approach reminds me of a non-profit agency in San Diego County currently making the following claim: "Every one second, a public high school student is suspended in America." I did the math. That works out to sixty suspended students every minute, 3,600 every hour, 86,400 every day, and 31.5 million every year. Yikes! But wait. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, that's twice the number of public high school students in America. As it turns out, the agency only counts the seconds in school days -- 180 days of seven hours each -- and that number just doesn't have the same shock value.

Attempts to manipulate people with sensationalized statistics usually fall short, causing skeptics to distrust even the most compelling scientific evidence. If you want to persuade others, you first have to earn their trust. Only then will people warm up to your ideas.

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sooner or later they will have to find a solution for this.I hope they really do

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