Satellite view of earth

It wasn’t so many years ago that political elections consultant James Carville made famous the phrase “It’s the economy, Stupid.”

When it comes to climate change science, “it’s the data!” The data, that is, being far more than the models that those contesting the science often seek to characterize as the be-all and end-all of climate science understanding.

Ice has 'no political baggage .... it just melts.' Click To Tweet

Which is not to diminish or side-step the value and importance of climate models in understanding Earth’s planetary system and its reactions to climate-forcing additives. It’s just to keep models in their right place relative to empirical data and evidence.

That’s the basic message of this month’s new “This is Not Cool” video for Yale Climate Connections.

Scientists interviewed in the video point to thousands of varied data sets – including everything from increased water vapor to increasing sea levels, from moisture and rainfall to measurements of the cryosphere, of snow ice, and of the heat content of the planet’s oceans.

All are providing “an internally and physically consistent story that the planet is warming,” says climate scientist Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. And “despite our best efforts,” he continues, scientists are unable to find that natural causes can explain that observed warming.

“The people who know the least about climate science are the ones who are most fixated on climate models,” says Texas A&M climatologist Andrew Dessler. “Models are the most visible part for people who don’t know much about climate science,” he says.

University of Washington scientist Sara Myhre adds that “across these broad fields, there is so much coherency and agreement.” She adds that “there is incredible agreement about the drivers of climate science.” She points to tree rings and ice cores and sediment cores. These are the actual things that recorded Earth’s changes in the past. They were there! They have embedded information that is so useful …. They’re irrefutable evidence that there are major consequences of climate warming.”

“Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It’s not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage, says University of Michigan emeritus professor Henry Pollack. “As it passes the threshold from solid to liquid, it just melts.”

Myhre view of the “incredible agreement” among climate scientists based on evidence is shared by A&M’s Dessler.

“It’s inarguable,” Dessler agrees, adding with a chuckle “although some people still argue it.”

Topics: Climate Science