A Climate Flowchart To De-Confuse The Confused — And To Defuse The Confusers

Those who accept the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists have a simple-yet-scary argument to make:

Humans are changing the climate and making it warmer because we are burning massive amounts of stuff that used to be underground and took millions of years to form.

It is internally and externally consistent and backed up by science. It would be nice if none of those things were true, but unfortunately no one has yet come up with something more compelling that survives anything resembling scrutiny.

Those who argue against climate science consensus (for whatever reason) often trip themselves up with inconsistent statements:

Climate change is not happening. Scientists are lying about the data (for whatever reason). Climate change is a good thing. Climate change is happening but is not our fault.

All of those things cannot be true at the same time. Hearing one, two, or all of those arguments from someone when talk turns to climate change can be exhausting. But instead of getting exhausted, give this flowchart a try, created as a collaboration between the folks at Grist and the folks at Climate Desk.

It’s a good bet that the follow-up flowchart on “so what do we do then” is going to have a few more boxes and arrows.

If you need more granular detail of specific climate myths, give the Climate Reality Project’s Reality Drop, or Skeptical Science’s site a try.

22 Responses to A Climate Flowchart To De-Confuse The Confused — And To Defuse The Confusers

  1. jyyh says:

    Thanks for the reminder, :-) I should also update my climate flowchart, make it a bit more realistic.

  2. Mark Haag says:

    It seems appropriate that the flow chart ends there. Those of us who believe in climate change keep rehashing the evidence to ourselves as if the only goal was to remind ourselves that we are right.

    We get no cookie for being right!

    Its the next flowchart, the flowchart for believers, we need to be working on. And that flowchart doesn’t end in “rehash the reasons we are right” it ends in “get out in the streets in force”

    When are we going out in the streets?

  3. Camburn says:

    I am laughing. That flowchart is a good example of not understanding the science at all.

    Thanks for the laugh. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

  4. nubwaxer says:

    in reality there is no equal point of view and open discussion necessary between climate change deniers and creationists against the opposing facts presented by deniers.
    what needs to be made clear repeatedly is that science welcomes, even demands challenges to the facts as we know them. people who believe in myths that are considered unerring and immutable cannot accept that science claims neither. science is indeed quite humble in a way such that it presents facts with the implied reservation that it’s the best they can do and we would like to see you do better for the benefit of everyone, not an illogical affirmation of your fairy tales to support you cult.
    from that comes the question as to who will benefit from government policies, the rich and the religious or everyone equally.

  5. Since you are in such a good mood, you can continue to laugh, while watching the press-conference of the American Geophysical Union, 2011 – „Paleoclimate record points toward potential rapid climate changes“.

    It will be very amusing, when the global sea level rise with 6 meters in under 20-years period, and 400~600 millions climate refugees from the coastal areas start migrating to higher ground…

  6. Chris Wichmann says:

    I agree brother! Need some street action!

  7. Chris Wichmann says:

    There is a lot of science to go through. Have you read IPCC reports!? lol Be hard to put it all in a small flow chart.

  8. Dmitriy says:

    Mark, what is it that you plan to do once you “get out in the streets in force”? Lets assume for the moment, that climate change exists (I do believe it does), that it is caused by greenhouse effect (most likely) and it is caused by humans burning too much shit (maybe, I am not entirely sure). What is it, exactly, that you propose to do about it? It is a fascinating notion that “we just need to yell at the government and they will come up with something”, but it is not very realistic.

  9. Chris Wichmann says:

    Which part is wrong?

  10. BBHY says:

    It is illogical to attempt to use facts, logic and reason to convince people who believe in clockwork elves.

  11. Vincent G Dabissi says:

    On the ‘humans’ side the chart should have been included the destruction of rainforests around the planet, slash and burn agriculture.

    Related; temperate zone forest fires ‘allowed’ to burn increasing acreage because of lackadaisical forest management (allowing excess fuel – underbrush & dead trees to accumulate, thus insuring fires so hot and fast that every living thing is destroyed.

    Both of the above clearly contribute to the fourth phase argument as well (chlorophyll+solarE+CO2->O2) Why almost never any mention of these factors?
    One likely answer; bias in favor of such things as Carbon Tax and – some good some visionary to point of impracticality.

  12. Camburn says:

    Yep, the paleo record even during the early Holocene shows wild temperature swings. 5.0C in a decade… that was a real doozy.

    In each and EVERY MIS period prior to now, sea levels rose to 15-26 meters higher than present.

    There is NO way that man can stop that, unless he figures out some way to screw up the sun.

  13. prokaryotes says:

    “There is NO way that man can stop that…”

    Reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, this will make a difference which will substantially impact the outcome. Which means that we can prevent a worst case scenario, where the ocean literally boils over and a runaway climate state starts.

    Or it could mean to sustain, stabilize or extend habitable zones and farm land, which would otherwise disappear earlier.

  14. MatthewT says:

    I appreciate the intent of the flowchart, but we need to stop asking the question in a way that implies that climate change is a belief system ones buys into or not. It should be phrased along the lines of: “Do you accept the fact that climate change is occurring and is primarily caused by human activities, as supported by overwhelming scientific evidence from a range of disciplines?”

    We won’t convince those who don’t believe in science, but let’s not contribute to the confusion of those who aren’t sure by reinforcing the notion that this is a matter that one takes on faith or not.

    Looking forward to the “What Do we Do?” chart.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yawnnnn!!!! Haven’t you got some carrots that need wrangling, or some cows that need planting, ’cause you’re soooo close to the earth?

  16. Sasparilla says:

    I love the flow chart.

    The KISS principle is often the best – I love the basic question…will a greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere behave like a greenhouse gas?

    The answer is of course it will and it cuts through all the cherrypicked stuff the deniers try to pull on (like the we never walked on the moon folks).

  17. Earthling says:

    Yep, let’s all go back to live off the land or become hunter gatherers if that’s the only way to save mankind.
    The alternative is to carry on doing what we’ve always done, continue progressing and hope the human race can hang on for a while longer, but always remembering that nothing is forever.

  18. kermit says:

    I’ll go on the assumption that you’re half serious here. Going back to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle would not save us. If we had all the resources our ancestors had, we’d still have to see a 99% die-off of humanity in order to live off the land. But we have so damaged the land that this may no longer be possible. And asking 99% of us to jump in the compost pile has logistical problems of its own…

    Also, if we went back to the stone age, we would lose, I think, any chance for the survivors to understand what happened. Eventually, in 200 or 20,000 years, we would do it all again.

    Our best chance of avoiding a repeat is to maintain civilization (at least iron-age tech with printing presses and libraries) and start rebuilding after the chaos settles down.

    Our best chance of all of course is in preventing the worst of it by cleaning up our act now. I’ll be over here gardening if anybody needs me.

  19. kermit says:

    Since we’re causing it, we can stop it. Technically, it’s easy, but socially difficult. Sadly, there are too many people like you laughing at science.

    Natural processes right now would be taking us into the next ice age at a stately pace, except anthropogenic global warming processes are swamping those effects.

  20. kermit says:

    Just curious – which other scientific fields do you understand better than the experts – physical chemistry, genetics, stellar physics?

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mr ‘Incorrect, non-factual and unsupported’ is back!

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Pathopsycholgy and moral ponerology leap to mind.