Understanding climate change: There's an app for that

Skeptical Science has an iPhone app that allows you to browse common critiques of climate science and arguments against climate change, and read expert responses. Perfect for both the curious, and the argumentative-on-the-go.(Thanks to Steve Easterbrook for the tip!)


  1. I personally prefer to just use the half dozen words I have written on my hand to remind me the major talking points whenever I have to talk to anyone.
    I do think this is a pretty cool tool, though.

    1. I personally prefer to just use the half dozen words I have written on my hand to remind me the major talking points…

      Haven’t you heard? The Palm is a dead platform.

  2. Randall- I mean, Maggie, get out of my head.

    I just read a letter to the editor in the local newspaper from someone who made the same old dumb argument “we just had a blizzard therefore global warming is a LIE!”

    There are lots of things that can be used against it, and this would help.

  3. Not that I don’t appreciate this app but I question the app’s intended audience.

    Global warming critics don’t seem to be swayed by the preponderance of evidence. It’s an ideological argument for them and their fail-safe attack is questioning the motives behind the scientific concensus.

    My tact is to usually say, earnestly, that, “The notion that this is a global leftest conspiracy is far fetched and maybe you should re-assess whether you’re ideologically motivated to reject the science behind global warming.”

    Maybe this sort of constructive peer pressure works and maybe it doesn’t but I think it’s likely more effective than a list of talking points… whether written on you hand or not.

    1. The thing is, there are a LOT of people out there who are just confused and want to know more and don’t realize that the common critiques have been addressed by scientists…they’re just not experts, or even wanna-be experts and they’re a bit lost on things. This could help them

      And I’ve gotten the impression that there are far more of those people than there are ideologues who think climate change is a librul plot.

    2. Personally, I’d say the intended audience is people like me.

      I want to answer the canned arguments: I trust the science, and have even pretty regularly looked into most of the details, but I can’t always summon a quick explanation of a specific point at any given time. And if I can, it might be wrong, which would be a lot worse than just being ignorant. One guy who says you’re wrong and cites bad reasons for that to be the case, when you’re up against 98% of the scientific community… it doesn’t take a lot of encouragement, and that’s big.

  4. I just ask religious deniers to let go and let god help the rennaisance along. That whole faith argument can be used to justify anything, so why not try to use it to legitimize scientific reseearch?

    (yeah yeah yeah, I am not religious myself, but I do like to play pretend with that particular worldview to see if there is any there there.)

  5. I don’t think it’s a liberal plot, I am just stunned at how so many are ignoring the fact that we are in an interglacial period of an ice age, as if this temperate climate will last forever. It won’t. Any artificial global warming is a good thing, since it will serve to keep the ice at bay.

    1. Hmm..to play devil’s advocate here for a moment, doesn’t the graph in their answer to #9 seem to indicate that the most stable future course is that with a high CO2 level?


      Just asking.

      I mean, if you look at a long term temperature graph, the whole of human civilization has happened in a very short warming period, which we can expect to drop off dramatically into another ice age.


      Wouldn’t high CO2 help to prevent that?

      Between the choice of global warming or 100,000 year ice age, I don’t know what I would choose. It’s not cut and dry.

      One thing that has always bothered be about global warming alarmism is the implicit claim that global warming would be “the end of the Earth.” You frequently read this sort of language in book blurbs about global warming, or in the video of the recent climate conference in Copenhagen – a girl waking up to find the world has turned into a lifeless desert.

      Now, there are certainly many anthropogenic threats to the very fabric of life on Earth – nuclear war, for instance; non-degrading toxic chemicals, death of honey bees or sea life, etc. etc. One could probably name a thousand credible threats.

      But I don’t see how global warming is one of them. As with any disruptive change, there would be winners and losers – many humans, for instance, might be worse off, especially those in weather volatile regions or living near the ocean. But plants, on the other hand, would have a net gain from increased food (remember, they pump CO2 into greenhouses to increase yields).

      Not that we shouldn’t do anything about it or just ignore it. It is worth protecting communities of people who are unfortunate enough to live near the ocean. But we should weigh to costs and benefits. The proposals most often discussed, global cap and trade, would economically block millions or billions around the world from using technology that we in the west take for granted, and slow their escape from grinding poverty. It would be a highly regressive tax that would hit the working class hard, making gasoline and heating fuel dramatically more expensive. It would exorbitantly benefit some pretty unsavory characters, such as corrupt governments and corrupt wall street firms (I’m looking at you, GS).

      It’s worth noting that after a country reaches a certain level of economic well being, “going green” is much easier. Your stove may pollute every time you turn it on – but it pollutes far less than a villager in Africa who must burn dung to heat their food. On the whole, I feel that economic development has a strong net gain for the environment – and we should be wary of environmental measures that stymie it.

      We need to sit down and calculate a reasonable cost/benefit analysis for this whole thing. There is so much money at stake that both sides have skewed the science. There have been, for instance, anti-AGW scientists whose names were put on the IPCC findings, and were not removed until they threatened to sue. And these recent emails were really not good, not the least in showing a great deal more uncertainty within the climate scientists than they let on. I was dismayed by the pro-AGW blogosphere’s coverage of them, in that as far as I could tell they simply ignored the more damning emails.

      The oil and coal industries have also, of course, bought their own scientists – but it is unfair to assume that every anti-AGW scientist is in the pocket of a corporation

      All of that is not to say that AGW is not in fact a reality, and a danger to millions of people around the world. But people have been given a fair reason to be suspicious about it, to doubt the integrity of a peer approval process that has become too insular.

      We should step back, weigh the risks of AGW versus other man made environmental and social problems, quantify exactly how much gain would be made by specific measures at what exact cost, and take this case to the people of the world, hopefully in a way that does not enrich any corrupt actors.

      I ask this earnestly, not rhetorically – After years and billions of dollars spent studying GW, can anyone say within a reasonably limited range how much carbon dioxide reduction would be required to lower global temperatures by 1 degree celsius, and what the economic cost of this might be?

  6. Like many iPhone apps, the medium chosen for this is just really silly.

    Seems very pointless to stuff it all onto the iPhone.

  7. I subscribe to a more ambiguous view of Climate Change (i.e., “Can we predict future Climate?” Not very accurately. “Are we adversely affecting Climate?” Obviously.) My viewpoint will not be assailed by mere facts, but feel free to try and get me to agree with you while I agree with you.

    I recently had a conversation with an actual Denier — he didn’t deny that the climate was changing, but he did deny that humans had anything to do with it.

    I told him that global warming was actually caused by Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. When he torched all of those oil fields, he actually set off a climate cataclysm. In fact, that climate cataclysm was the very WMD that the very canny Bush Administration was so very upset about. They just didn’t want to tell us the REAL reason we went to war in Iraq: To punish Saddam for causing Global Warming.

    I don’t think that my message got through to him. Perhaps it will find fertile ground on the internet.

  8. One thing that has always bothered be about global warming alarmism is the implicit claim that global warming would be “the end of the Earth.”

    You obviously don’t live anywhere close to the ocean, do you..? If the predicted rice in sea levels do happen, the roof of my apartment will be approx. level with the sea level. Not quite the end of the earth, but for me and some of my 640 million closest friends, this would be a pretty big problem. And I don’t even live in the Netherlands.

    1. You obviously didn’t read my whole piece (it was admittedly pretty long). Sure, it would be inconvenient for you and your 640 million closest friends, especially if they live in the Netherlands or Bangladesh (of course, the Netherlands is largely below the sea level anyway, thus the name; I don’t imagine it would be all that hard to raise the levees higher), but “nature,” “the environment,” “mother Earth,” etc. couldn’t care less.

      My argument is that in terms of existential threats to life on Earth, there are much greater threats out there.

      Here’s something to consider. The most talked about solution for GW, cap and trade, would result in a massive influx of money to governments around the world (in a highly regressive manner, of course). These governments, as they are wont to do (particularly America, of course), would spend a large share of this money on nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons, guns, bombs, and general war and mayhem. We should remember that government agencies, such as the US army, are the most environmentally destructive actors in the world. So the solution is to pour more money into their general coffers.

      I’m just saying that that’s pretty damned convenient for the deeply indebted governments of the world..and I wonder if there isn’t a better way to confront this?

    1. Minus two points for posting a link you apparently didn’t read yourself in response to my post that you also apparently didn’t read.

      A corollary to Godwin’s law is that, in an Internet argument, anyone who simply posts a link to an opposing view without adding anything of their own automatically loses the argument (OK, I just made that up – but it sound good to me)

      To sum up:

      1) The worst case scenarios of AGW would be pretty damned bad for humanity, but in not way present an existential threat to the biosphere as a whole – there are many more dangerous threats, such as toxic pollution and nuclear issues, which receive less and less attention as AGW receives more andmore.

      2) Has anyone ever sat down and calculated the social and economic costs of the worst case scenarios of AGW versus the costs and potential benefits of the various solutions put forth to fix it?

      If we have to spend $10Trillion on reduced carbon use to reduce temperatures .1 degree Celsius, we shouldn’t bother and should think of a better solution to the problem. But then, I don’t know the real numbers that fit into that equation, and after billions spent on research I don’t know that anyone has any idea.

      I have put this question forward on a number of different forums, and have never received any sort of answer. I welcome any sort of intelligent response.

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