The discussion on Global Warming is full of rhetoric. It is a complex scientific issue, yet the facts aren’t conclusive and the economic and social stakes are high. What examples of rhetoric language can we find and how do we respond to them? We take examples from both sides. The website www.conserve-energy-future.com sums it up nicely, in the left corner:
Global Warming is Real
Scientists who argue for global warming being real base most of their evidence on the interpretation of the change in the levels of gases in the atmosphere and the ocean. The actual warming of temperature is something they say they can document, but the primary evidence is drawn from detecting what precedes a temperature rise – the change, and effect of atmospheric gases on the Earth’s environment.
and in the right corner we have those who argue that global warming isn’t real:
Global Warming isn’t Real
Many scientists make a strong case against global warming being real. They often look towards the same evidence as those in favor of proving its existence, but draw different conclusions. They also look at some evidence not considered in other arguments. These scientists hold to a strict definition of global warming as being defined as a rise in atmospheric temperature, they do not consider the atmospheric precursors as valid evidence.
We have the same evidence, but a different conclusion. This sounds like rhetorical technique number 33. Logically, based on the same evidence, we have to draw the same conclusion. If not, the theory must be wrong, or we are missing something. The opponents of Global Warming look at “some evidence not considered in other arguments” and have a different definition of Global Warming.The opponents of Global Warming use a narrower definition and thus make a subtle distinction, number 17.
Is Global Warming real or not? My answer would be to do a bit of risk management: impact times probability of the event gives the risk. On as scale of 1 to 10, impact: 12; probability: between 1 and 10, risk: between 12 and 120, with 100 the maximum score. Whatever way you look at it, you can’t ignore it.
Answer in favour: “You do have a fire insurance for your house, don’t you? Why not get an insurance for the earth we’re living on?” The rhetorical example used here is to use a metaphor to support your own position, number 12.
Answer against: “It’s all very well in theory but there’s just no evidence of it.”, number 33. Just keep saying it until someone comes up with conclusive evidence, until then, you’ve won.