23 October 2013

The obfuscated debate on climate change

We often hear that scientists have reached a consensus on the contentious issue of climate change, but what exactly do they agree on? Have they come to an agreement on how much temperatures will rise and how quickly these rises will occur? Do they agree on how high sea levels will rise? The answers to these questions come in the form of wide ranges consisting of a minimum value and maximum value that depend on the climate model used.

There are really three general issues in the debate on climate change:

  1. The changes that will occur to our climate.
  2. The cause of these changes to our climate.
  3. What should be done about adverse changes to our climate.
Issue 1 gets the most attention, but most of the argument actually centres around issue 2. The answer for the third issue depends on the answer for the second. So-called “climate change deniers” don’t deny the climate is changing. Au contraire. They just don’t believe mankind is causing “dangerous” changes to our climate.

The problem with claims of a scientific consensus is that they tend to be statements of a political nature made on behalf of scientists rather than scientific ones.

7 March 2013

Tweets from Australian journalists on Twitter