My objective for the class is get you to look at issues like global warming critically, not just as a knee-jerk conservative or liberal response to the politics. That pretty much all the scientists who are expert in the that area of science believe in it is worth serious consideration. That the opponents are generally (not all, but most) flat-earthers in many other ways is also important to think about.
On the other hand, there are examples of politicized science – mostly medical science – where the leading scientists were wrong. Not because they were corrupt or even making money on the issue, but because they all shared the same biases from their training. One example that I worked on was the failure of the public health community to accept standard disease control measures for HIV/AIDS. We went 20 years before we corrected that mistake. (Background) As for long term policy failures, just look at the ineffectiveness and unintended consequences of the war on drugs.
Whether you believe in global warming is not important, it is whether you really make up your own mind based on the best evidence that is out there. The issue is keeping your mind open – the answer to this is not yes or no, but what are the odds? It is certainly true that the earth is warming – how bad will it be without regard to whether man is responsible? If you run an insurance company or are planning to locate a major business in a coastal area, you would be a fool to just assume there is no chance of global warming. You would want to hedge your bets in underwriting decisions or where you put your business. You might build near the coast, but you would want to think about insurance options.
LA coastal subsidence is as controversial in south LA as global warming, but it is absolutely true. Not only based on Prof. Dokka’s data but on common sense if you really think about what you are seeing at the edge of the coast. For us, that is the issue we need to convince people about. If LA realistically confronts subsidence by accepting that it needs a soft coast, retreating coast, it will also be prepared to respond to global warming. All global warming will do is speed up the timeframe for coastal retreat. What we will not be ready for is the climate change, which will make sugar growing much more difficult, but that will happen slowly and we can adapt.