Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trust the public on climate change

It is not enough for climate scientists and environment ministers to go to Copenhagen and tell each other how right they are. They also need to convince the public. National politics – the democratic process – is awfully inconvenient sometimes, but cannot be waved away.
The climate-science establishment – scientists subscribing to the global warming consensus and most governments, judging by words not deeds – understands this. This is why the Copenhagen meeting has a theatrical aspect; it is as much about public relations as about serious efforts to confront global warming.

The experts are intent on stirring up – they would say “educating” – public opinion. From their own point of view, however, they are making a hash of it.
The evidence for the climate consensus, they say, is stronger year by year. But in the US, public confidence in their statements is falling: less than half the electorate now regards man-made global warming as a proven fact. Admittedly, the US is an outlier in this, but few electorates anywhere seem sufficiently convinced to support, when push comes to shove, the policies that many climate scientists are calling for.

I recognise the consensus and believe it justifies, on prudential grounds, a big effort to curb emissions. But the climate-science establishment is making itself an obstacle.
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