I was reading somebody talk about the distribution of people who "agree global warming is an issue" and how it has changed over time, and it made me wonder where I would fit in.
- I agree that the evidence is that the global average temperature is rising.
- I agree that there are certain economic issues this causes, and recall that when I use the word "economic" I automatically mean "potentially costing lives" (as opportunity costs come home to roost).
- I do not agree that it is proven that human influence has had an impact. I agree that this is a plausible hypothesis, but I think that it is far from proven. Evidence that the Sun has heated up a little strikes me as far more likely to account for it; at the very least this demands a factors analysis and I pretty much a priori discard any claimed analysis that says humans are 100% responsible, on the grounds that climate change has happened in the past, indeed, climate stasis never has. (No reasonable environmentalist claims 100%, of course, but unreasonable ones are talking, too.)
- I do not agree that warming is automatically a disaster. I think it is plausible that it may even be a net gain (more useful land), but there's only one real way to find out and that is to see it happen. Analysis that we loose X feet of coastland invariably fail to take into account other lands we gain; Siberia could become more hospitable, for instance, and that's a huge chunk of land.
- I don't agree that we should drastically cut back on pollution for global warming's sake. In fact, this argument really boggles my mind when there are invariably better arguments for reducing pollution. We could reduce the emissions of our coal plants to reduce global warming... which many people still do not accept and no one is qualified to say whether the coal emissions are affecting it, or in which direction... or we can reduce coal plant emissions because people die (sooner) when they breathe them. Pollution should be rationally minimized for many reasons, and global warming, even if we grant the most catastrophic versions, is still rather far down on the list of reasons, swamped by many other more immediate and pressing ones like killing people, animals, or plants for no good reason.
So, do I "believe in global warming"? Beats me. I guess you could say I "agree global warming is an issue", but that phrase often is used to mean "agree human caused global warming" is an issue. And of course, "agreeing it is an issue" is often taken to mean "a pressing issue", and I'm not convinced of that, either.
Binary questions about such things are so useless.