Climate Change / Research

Facing the certainty of uncertainty as the heat goes out of climate change debate

In science as in politics, easily grasped arguments grab headlines. And those that polarize issues can have even greater force. The Climategate saga that hit the press just before the Copenhagen conference on climate change late last year managed both to make headlines and to further polarize stands on whether climate is or is not occurring, and the role of humans in any change in climate.

Now, several months later, there are signs that some of the heat has gone out of the climate change debates. An article in the Economist (20 Mar 2010),’The Clouds of Unknowing’, is sub-titled: ‘There are lots of uncertainties in climate science. But that does not mean it is fundamentally wrong.’

‘The wide range of the outcomes predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — from a mildly warming global temperature increase of 1.1 degrees Centigrade by the end of the century to a hellish 6.4 degrees C — illustrate the uncertainties it is dealing with.’

Despite such uncertainties, most research supports the idea that global warming is human-made. And it is at least partly because of such uncertainties that we must act. We cannot risk that 6.4-degree world.

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