A History of the Climate Change Controversies

After obtain­ing and ana­lys­ing the doc­u­ments and emails from the Cli­mate Research Unit email con­tro­versy (the so-called Cli­mateg­ate emails), Der Spiegel “reveals how the war between cli­mate research­ers and cli­mate skep­tics broke out, the tricks the two sides used to out­man­euver each oth­er and how the con­flict could be resolved”.

The res­ult is an excep­tion­al and com­pre­hens­ive art­icle on the his­tory of the cli­mate change issue and the sci­ent­ists’ place in it.

The art­icle con­cludes:

Soci­olo­gist Peter Weingart believes that the dam­age could be irre­par­able. “A loss of cred­ib­il­ity is the biggest risk inher­ent in sci­entif­ic com­mu­nic­a­tion,” he said, adding that trust can only be regained through com­plete trans­par­ency. […]

It seems all but impossible to provide con­clus­ive proof in cli­mate research. Sci­entif­ic philo­soph­er Silvio Funtovicz [described] cli­mate research as a “post­nor­mal sci­ence.” On account of its high com­plex­ity, he said it was sub­ject to great uncer­tainty while, at the same time, har­bor­ing huge risks.

The experts there­fore face a dilemma: They have little chance of giv­ing the right advice. If they don’t sound the alarm, they are accused of not ful­filling their mor­al oblig­a­tions. How­ever, alarm­ist pre­dic­tions are cri­ti­cized if the pre­dicted changes fail to mater­i­al­ize quickly.

Cli­ma­to­lo­gic­al find­ings will prob­ably remain ambigu­ous even if fur­ther pro­gress is made. Weingart says it’s now up to sci­ent­ists and soci­ety to learn to come to terms with this. In par­tic­u­lar, he warns, politi­cians must under­stand that there is no such thing as clear res­ults. “Politi­cians should stop listen­ing to sci­ent­ists who prom­ise simple answers,” Weingart says.

via Art and Let­ters Daily