After reading articles about climate change, I think that I can situate most of the information found in my sources into two general categories: addressing the issue from a scientific perspective or from a societal or political perspective. Sources such as NASA and National Geographic evaluate the specific causes of warming global temperatures as well as potential effects on the environment. They present data collected from satellites and other experiments to measure sea level, humidity, and air pollution, while also looking at how specific environments in regions across the globe are changing. Other news sources also reference the purely scientific impact, but they usually present another argument as well that categorizes climate change as a political issue like many others that have to be addressed. These types of articles focus more on potential economic impacts and discuss how best climate research and efforts to stem climate change should be funded. This further highlights the long-term issue associated with climate change: analyzing the problem and then deciding what to do about it.

These two perspectives are not mutually exclusive in any paper; in fact, they should be synthesized to present a holistic view of the topic. One issue I am finding when reading, however, is that some sources tend to favor one of these perspectives over the other. Sometimes, articles focus on the raw economics and costs of the issue without giving credible scientific evidence to support their claims. Other times, a source details the scientific impact of global warming but does not acknowledge the tremendous costs associated with reducing our collective carbon footprint. Many credible journals, especially those published by organizations, of which climate science is a primary focus, give light to both of these angles. Yet this ties into another issue with researching this topic. Like many “hot” political topics (no pun intended), climate change has become a fairly common term in modern language. Many people who at least understand the general concept have an opinion on it, and many of those opinions find their way into search results online, even if they are not credible. It is increasingly difficult to find a qualitative, relatively unbiased source on this issue when it contains several different points of controversy, from reaching a consensus on our role in its exacerbation, to even acknowledging its existence. Therefore, I have additionally been forced to analyze the credibility of specific news sources and have increasingly turned to safer options such as library databases when looking for information.

It has also been necessary to read every source with a critical eye. Because the overall concept of climate change is somewhat abstract, statistics and visuals are sometimes the strongest forms of evidence. But if nothing else, I am learning to be skeptical of those visual aids and numbers because they can often be skewed to present a one-sided piece argument. At this stage in the research process, I am not yet attempting to argue one point or answer a specific question. The problem is that many sources and articles that are already written are trying to push a point across, forcing me to “unravel” those arguments in order to attain just the facts.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Climate Change: Analyzing the Sources by Paul is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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