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Science and opinion

February 3, 2009

Doing a course a few weeks ago, some councillors expressed scepticism about climate change and how much we should care about it.  I don’t think it was so much that they really disagreed with the science, they just resent what they see as an enforced consensus.  I can understand that.  People like to arrive at their own conclusions in their own time.  But if you are looking for information, the Royal Society website is well worth a read, this post in particular.

It concludes: “Our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Science moves forward by challenge and debate and this will continue.  However, none of the current criticisms of climate science, nor the alternative explanations of global warming are well enough founded to make not taking any action the wise choice.  The science clearly points to the need for nations to take urgent steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, as much and as fast as possible, to reduce the more severe aspects of climate change.  We must also prepare for the impacts of climate change, some of which are already inevitable.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. ajlgiu permalink
    February 5, 2009 1:11 pm

    Just been to an event on Green Well Fair hosted by NEF. The basic point is that we’re at a transition point for thinking about the future of politics. This is due to many things not least climate change the inclusion of environmental limits into political thinking.

    The difficulty is that these limits cannot be ignored or avoided, nor are they succeptible to articulate political persuasion. There are two challenges firstly, science needs to get better at talking to politicians and secondly politicians need to get used to dealing with scientific evidence and learn to challenge it in a scientific way rather than a political way.

    The former has been on the agenda of Universities for years, the latter is relatively new, what does it mean? What it doesn’t mean is desparately seizing on to the one scientific paper out of a thousand that contradicts the consensus, nor does it mean selectively choosing bits of evidence when there are many to consider.

    It could mean members seeking the support of a scientific assistant as well as a political assistant or political parties activly seeking candidates who understand scientific thinking.

  2. Imogenw permalink
    February 5, 2009 1:58 pm

    My political relationship with the environment consists largely of trying to persuade people to change their behaviour: please don’t drop litter, please do recycle your rubbish etc. I’ve found the best way of doing this is to (a) show people how they will benefit from it and (b) make it easy for them to do it.

    Global warming is an interesting subject, and we all enjoy a bit of armchair theorizing, but I don’t believe that talking about it as local politicians helps all that much. This is particularly true in areas with a lot of deprivation or crime, where people are understandably more concerned about what they experience when they walk out of their front door that something they see no direct evidence of. Caring for the environment makes sense for many reasons: clean air, less landfill, longer lasting natural resources, and I don’t need the threat of global disaster to make me see that.

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