Our rising oceans: thinking critically about climate change


For  this assignment, you will be learning about how NASA climate scientists  arrive at their conclusions concerning sea level rise and you will have  a chance to consider some consequences of sea level rise. You will also  see how “climate change deniers” generate their claims and learn about  the tactics they use in their attempts to popularize these claims.

These are the topics of the 2015 Vice News Documentary: Our Rising Oceans. Watch the documentary here:

Our Rising Oceans

Read more about climate change here:

NASA: Climate Change

You  have already learned about the nature of inductive reasoning and that  inductive reasoning is the backbone of the scientific method. Some very  savvy thinkers have utilized facts about inductive reasoning to attempt  to sow doubt about scientific claims as they relate to ethical issues.  In the documentary, you hear about the Heritage Foundation and its role  in generating climate change denial. You will also hear that the same  organization helped tobacco companies develop arguments denying that  their products cause cancer. Question 2, below, will address their  tactics. The following two videos will help you to further understand  the “problem of induction” and how it factors into these tactics: 

Skepticism: David Hume

The Problem of Induction

For this assignment, answer the following questions fully:

  1. In  “Our Rising Oceans”, you witnessed a conference of “climate change  deniers” at which scientific claims about climate change are called into  question. What are three things that stood out to you about this  conference? Explain.
  2. At  the conference of “climate change deniers”, you heard a speaker state  that “observation claims are not knowledge: they are not universal,  necessary, and certain.” What this speaker is referencing is called the  “problem of induction,” and this problem is simply a fact of inductive  reasoning. In short, if a conclusion depends on our observations rather  than on necessary logical relationships, those conclusions cannot be  guaranteed. Consider the following:
  • “universal” means true in all cases
  • “necessary” means could not be otherwise 
  • “certain” means cannot be doubted

With  these things in mind, it should be clear that there is nothing that we  know from experience or observation that is “universal, necessary, and  certain.” But does this mean that nothing we “know” from observation or  experience actually counts as “knowledge?” That would imply that you  don’t “know” whether it is day or night, whether the screen you are  reading this on actually exists, or whether you even have a body at all!  I don’t think, for most of us, that our standard of knowledge is quite  that strict.

Your  supplementary materials above include two YouTube videos that offer  short explanations of the problem of induction for your consideration.  Consider what you have read here and what you saw in these videos. Here,  then, is question 2:

Is the problem of induction sufficient to dismiss scientific claims about climate change? Why or why not?

  1.  In  the documentary, you saw some consequences of climate change that are  already occurring in Bangladesh. What are three things that stood out to  you from that section of the video? Explain what you found significant  about these things.


*One  thing I find interesting is that we are seeing the same sorts of  rejections of scientific claims regarding COVID-19 as we see with  climate change. Maybe you have heard these arguments addressing ethical  issues related to the pandemic. We also see them in debates surrounding  vaccinations.

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