I have two sets of beliefs about global warming. The first set I infer from the observed "scientific consensus," but applying my "sociology of science" adjustments to the filters of mainstream media, intelligent blogs, reports of peer-reviewed journals, popular science books, and so on. That means somewhat more skepticism than the postulated consensus, but mostly I buy into the consensus account as our best available estimate. Procedurally speaking, I am not sure how I could make these beliefs more rational.
The second segment of my beliefs is less rationally grounded. I believe, for instance, that ocean acidification will, in the long run, be the most dangerous consequence of carbon emissions. (And by saying that I don’t mean to downgrade the other worries.)
I am aware that this belief isn’t necessarily justified. It is shared by some scientists as a speculation, and it could turn out to be true, but it is hardly well-grounded as our major worry even though it does seem to be a real worry.
Still, for whatever reason, I cannot help but believe it, or at least believe it with some excess degree of credence. Is this because I visited the ocean as a child, and received some mysterious emotional sense of its powers, a sense which I can no longer eradicate from my subconscious? Or am I more generally attracted to explanations which postulate some deeper but slightly hidden or indirect problem with status quo policies? (I could look for signs that I hold similar delusions elsewhere.)
I try to keep these beliefs from affecting my policy conclusions, but I am not altogether able to stop holding them. And even if my belief turns out to be true (which I expect someone to suggest in the comments), I am quite sure my procedural reason for holding it is an irrational one.