My Comment On “A Closer Look At Why The Climate Change Debate Is So Polarized” By Keith L. Seitter

There is an interesting write-up in the September 2012 issue of BAMS titled

A Closer Look at Why the Climate Change Debate Is So Polarized [unfortunately, there is no url for it except for AMS members, but I have reproduced below].

This article by Keith L. Seitter, Executive Director of the AMS, is an important reaching out to the climate science community. His statement that [highlight added]

“It is not uncommon for those who are convinced that human activities are significantly influencing the climate to suggest that anyone who is unconvinced simply does not understand the science or is incapable of following the logical sequence provided by the evidence. Yet there are a number of distinguished scientists who are quite outspoken in their dismissal of anthropogenic influences being among the major causes for the Earth’s recent warming and/or projections of future warming.”

This reaching out to those who do not accept statements such as recently promulgated by the AMS; i.e.

Climate Change

is a refreshing recognition of the actual diversity of viewpoints in this professional society.

While I accept that human activity has played a significant role in altering the Earth’s climate system (including its heating), I welcome the recognition that those who do not agree with some or all of this statement are still respected. We need more such reaching out by all viewpoints in the climate issue.

In terms of the context of the “cultural issues” that Keith discusses, I recommend they also be considered in the context of Graves Value Theory. This concept categorizes individuals into what someone finds important; e. g. see

Graves’ value theory

In this theory, as discussed in the above link

Graves theorized that there are eight value systems which evolved over the course of the past 100,000 years of human history. This evolutionary process has affected us biologically, psychologically and culturally.

Graves formulated the following starting points for his value system:

  • Each fundamental value system is the result, on the one hand, of someone’s circumstances and the problems that come with it (life conditions), and on the other hand of the way he deals with it based on his neurological ‘wiring’ (mind conditions).
  • Every adult contains all value systems within himself.
  • A person’s value system changes depending on the circumstances he finds himself in.
  • The development of value systems is like a pendulum, moving back and forth between value systems focused on the individual and those focused on the collective.
  • The more complex people’s circumstances, the more complex the value systems which are required.
  • Value systems depend on the context. In different contexts (family, work, etc.) people may experience their immediate environment in a different way. This means that different value systems may predominate in these different contexts.

I am certainly not an expert on this topic, but recommend those who are to pursue this line of research in the context, as Keith presents of

cultural cognition and the role it plays in polarizing the our community – and our nation –  on the subject of climate change.”

Thanks to Keith Seitter for seeking to broaden the climate discussion!

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