What do Hurricane Sandy and the election have in common?
Our need to understand the difference between opinions and facts, and what are reliable sources of the latter.
Although no single storm is evidence for climate change, the recent storms and our ongoing drought (and more importantly, mountains of data on temperatures, glaciers, sea levels), make it hard for any rational, informed person to continue denying climate change.
What about politicians and armchair experts that insisted climate change was a hoax? Just a con to keep grant money flowing? Those claims are simply false. Some were lying to us; some were just choosing what they wanted to believe.
Why are we so easily misinformed? News programs now routinely have a right or left spin and hosts compete for viewers by telling them what they want to hear, rather than reporting reality with minimal bias.
But the larger problem is we prefer to be told what we want to hear. We have become people that expect to be able to choose our own reality, and who believe that insisting something is true makes it true.
The election showed that insisting the polls were wrong didn't make them wrong, and reality eventually even caught up with Karl Rove. It showed that reality is independent of what we want to believe.
We need to evaluate our preference for biased information. Why in the world should we trust "FOX & Friends" on climate change over an international community of professional climate researchers? We shouldn't.
This is also true for controversial issues like social and economic policies, science education, and medical practices. TV pundits and radio loudmouths are not experts, and neither they nor we get to choose our own reality.
Hurricane Sandy did not spare those who insisted that climate change isn't real.