Overall consensus is that global warming is real
This letter is in response to the Aug. 9 letter, "People have the choice to believe or not to believe," by Delores Almendinger.
The passion and concern voiced is worthy of respect. However, I'd like to address a few concerns, one being Ms. Almendinger's question, "Since the majority of people believe in a religion ... why can't they state it is also a theory ...?"
This is a very good question, considering the massive misunderstanding of what scientific theory entails. Popularly a theory is thought to be a conjecture or a guess. By this definition, all religions should be taught in the classroom.
However, a scientific theory is considerably different; it is a formulation from various observations that has been verified many times over that can be used to make predictions about the natural world.
This is not to say religion shouldn't be discussed in school, but perhaps a philosophy of religion class would be a better place to let individuals educate themselves on theological issues.
Another point needing clarification is the statement, "Scientists are not always in agreement ... over 700 scientists say (global warming) isn't happening ... (and) in northern Minnesota, winters have been colder lately and we could use some global warming." To begin, it is important to understand that scientists are people too, and individuals can disagree on specific points. However, the overall scientific consensus, as demonstrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and, in fact, every national science academy that has issued a statement, all agree that the overall global climate is warming and that it is likely attributable to human influence.
Also, when Ms. Almendinger says "we could use some global warming" she might mean regional warming, keeping in mind that northern Minnesota is not representative of the entire planet. It is also important to understand that the concern over climate change is not just that everything will get hotter, but that weather as a whole (globally) will become more extreme and unpredictable.
Even if the consensus was weak on this issue (and it isn't), the consequence of acting and being wrong would be cleaner air and less dependence on foreign oil, the consequence of not acting and being right would be a very awkward conversation with your grandchildren.