Monthly Archives: May 2013

When Climate Skeptics Are Right

I think there’s been some confusion on both sides of the climate debate. Those who are in the ‘climate change is real’ camp think there is no longer any reason to debate climate science. Those in the skeptics camp argue that there are many uncertainties about climate science – so there are plenty of reasons for debate. Not that I’m necessarily wishy-washy, but I would argue that they may both be right – and they may both be wrong. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

The process of scientific discovery requires constant questioning of assumptions. Without that kind of questioning there would never be progress towards understanding nature. Stifling debate would only hinder the process of discovering the truth. In other words, a scientist who stops asking questions and/or stifles debate would be irresponsible.

On the other hand, decision making or policy making requires that you make decisions based on the best available evidence. We never have the luxury of making decisions based on absolute certainty. While there are many questions that can and should be asked in the field of climate science, there is more than sufficient evidence to take action on climate change. In other words, a decision maker (policy maker) who delays a decision by continuing to ask questions in face of overwhelming evidence is also acting irresponsibly.

Personally, I am not a climate scientist, but as a citizen, I make decisions, so I am in the ‘climate change is real’ camp. The vast majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and that it is human-caused. For me, that is sufficient evidence to suggest that we need to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, I’m afraid I won’t be debating various aspects of climate science with you but I’d be happy to debate what should be done about the very real problem of climate change.