Cross-posted from Biodiversivist

You know who I’m talking about, that stereotype who inevitably appears in the comment field armed with irrefutable evidence that climate change is a giant conspiracy theory. He dares other commenters to engage him in nuanced debate so he can bury them with the (erroneous) data he’s gleaned off the internet.

As with the debate over dark matter, or string theory, or any number of other science topics, the debate over the “science” of climate change is between climate scientists using the scientific method. Real climatologists engage in debate in peer reviewed science journals.

There’s a lot of room for debate over what should be done and we should all participate in those debates but the science is not ours to debate. The science is settled. Human activity has increased the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by burning forests and grasslands and by releasing hundreds of millions of years of stored fossil fuel carbon into the atmosphere. That fact is utterly irrefutable. End of story. What remains to debate (among scientists) are the ramifications of that fact–the magnitude and timing of climate changes to come.

Don’t encourage the armchair climatologist. Unless you happen to be a published, recognized expert in the field of climatology, you are no more qualified to debate the science than the armchair versions are, the only  difference being, you should know that and they don’t. Feel free to post links to peer reviewed science or you can just post the following link in response to their spittle-flecked diatribes, which will point them to the peer reviewed science for you: A Few Things Ill Considered.

Here (in response to the recent lay press feeding frenzy claiming that the earth is actually cooling) is a taste of what can be found there:

Why waste your time playing armchair climatologist Whac-A-Mole when there are websites that do it for you?

It can be hard to resist sometimes.

Against my own advice, I was recently drawn into a short debate with a couple of armchair climatologists in a comment field over the latest incarnation of the global warming hoax hoax involving the illegal hack into a university server.

And again later in the thread, here, and at Grist here.

[Update 11/28/2009]

Thought this comment on the DOT EARTH blog is worth linking to as is this post at Stoat: Talking to the layfolk.

Foil hat image from Wikipedia Commons.