No one believes in gravity.
I don’t believe in the law of conservation of energy.
There is no such thing as belief in evolution.
And I do not believe in climate change.
Whether you, or I, or the national Republican Party, believes in the principles of science is meaningless. Science studies and interprets our physical universe. Science does not require any individual person to believe its precepts in order for those precepts to accurately describe, define, or interpret the physical world. I’m not a scientist, but even if I was, I would not determine the soundness of science based on what I believe.
Just as the apocryphal Deathbed Conversion of Charles Darwin, who it was said (spuriously) rejected evolution at the end, would have no bearing on evolutionary biology, so too does an individual rejection of climate change, by say, John Boehner, have no bearing climate science.*
In reality: the international community of physicists, climatologists, and many other fields has come together in near unanimous consensus and determined that the release of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels is altering the physical chemistry of our planet’s atmosphere, resulting in an increase in global temperatures that threatens the countless millions of humans and other species, as well as an ecological balance found over eons of natural change. No individual’s lack of belief in that consensus has weight. None.
What can alter that science is a change in the scientific consensus. That happens, and has countless times in the past. This possibility is what makes science wonderful. It has not, however, occurred on climate change. There is no scientific dissent that presents a challenge to the consensus. The science of climate change is sound; the climate is warming; rejection of this has no impact on these realities.
So when I see a video like this one, that Phil Plait discusses this morning at Bad Astronomy, I want to remind those who play politics with science: your belief is irrelevant, stop endangering the world.
The only group of people in the entire world that uniformly rejects climate science is the Republican Party of the United States. I presume this rejection must be political because there is no other way to understand it. Either way, this rejection is dangerous.
*Know that I shudder to compare the false claim of Darwin’s rejection of evolution to the real and dangerous rejection of climate change by John Boehner. But no one individual’s belief makes the matter, be it Darwin or anyone else.