[Adapted and updated from a post I wrote about this five years ago.]

Whenever I write about climate change, I always feel obligated to mention that I’m not a climate scientist, and thus my opinion doesn’t count for much.

But then, climate scientists are automatically dismissed by surprisingly large segments of the population as part of a massive liberal conspiracy. This has the effect of making scientists’ opinions not count for much, either.

So, I like to take a different approach–forget using data or climate models, and use common sense instead.

The world’s human population is around 7.5 billion–meaning there are more humans on the planet then ever before. The planet has not grown to accommodate them.

Now, the typical human body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That means the planet now has more 98.6 degree furnaces on it than ever before. If you add furnaces to a room, does the room become hotter?

Obviously, it’s a big planet. It can take quite a bit, so maybe this isn’t going to have major repercussions. Maybe it doesn’t even register. Or maybe it will eventually destroy the world. Beats me. I don’t know the first thing about biology, chemistry or physics. But still, I assume it has some effect. It would be kind of weird if it didn’t, right?

When you add in the fact that humans have started engaging in activities over the last century that had never occurred previously in the history of the planet, you again have to suspect that this has some effect on the atmosphere. Again, if it’s not, that would be kind of bizarre.

For this reason, I’ve always thought the burden of proof is on those who claim it has no effect.

ThinkProgress has a good article about how global warming is causing the recent outbreaks of extreme weather. The article is worth reading in full,  and also includes this video, which does a pretty good job explaining things:

You know, my Republican friends often say: “What global warming? It’s nice and cool outside right now.” That’s why the term “climate change” was introduced; because “climate” is basically an averaging of what the weather is doing. So, global warming does not mean it will henceforth be warmer than previously all day, every day, but rather that the average trend is towards warming.

And moreover, slight changes in averages can have a major ripple effect throughout the whole system.

Well, I’m not a scientist, but the video features people who are. They explain everything pretty well.

(Hat Tip to Private Buffoon.)

I like a good espionage story, full of suspicion and plot twists and, of course, morally ambiguous characters. It’s even better if you throw in some charged political issues. And here we are, lucky enough to have one in the real world. I, for one, am thrilled.

A scientist named Peter Gleick used a false name to obtain documents from an outfit called “The Heartland Institute” that purportedly shows that institute’s “donors, fundraising efforts and plans to spread doubt about climate change.” Heartland says that these documents have been faked.

Gleick now says that what he did was wrong. Personally, lying to obtain documents like this doesn’t bother me that much, because it’s a fairly minor lie being told to learn a much bigger truth, but if it turns out he forged them, that’s a very serious matter indeed. In fact, if that’s the case, he’s actually “spread doubt about climate change” himself. But if the documents are proven to be genuine, then I think it’s justifiable.

Fox News, of course, is quite eager to say he has already done this. Apparently, for them, the mere fact that someone would lie about their name to obtain information automatically renders the information they have obtained meaningless.

But enough about the players; we want the MacGuffin! You can read the documents here, so make of them what you will.

UPDATE: I guess I should clarify that I don’t condone lying like Gleick did, even if it really is to obtain legitimate information for a good cause. However, I still can see how it might be necessary to do this kind of thing to expose corruption sometimes. I mean, if Gleick were an investigative journalist and not a scientist, would that make this different? What if he were a detective? Like I said, it seems “morally ambiguous” as of right now.