[ExI] why anger?
thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri Feb 26 00:46:42 UTC 2010
On 2/25/2010 5:42 PM, BillK wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 10:49 PM, spike wrote:
>>> ...On Behalf Of Keith Henson
>>> I don't have any good ideas about why people get so angry
>>> over global warming arguments... Keith
* NEW SCIENTIST issue 2749.
* 24 February 2010
Honesty is the best policy for climate scientists
FOR many environmentalists, all human influence on the planet is bad.
Many natural scientists implicitly share this outlook. This is not
unscientific, but it can create the impression that greens and
environmental scientists are authoritarian tree-huggers who value nature
above people. That doesn't play well with mainstream society, as the
apparent backlash against climate science reveals.
Environmentalists need to find a new story to tell. Like it or not, we
now live in the anthropocene - an age in which humans are perturbing
many of the planet's natural systems, from the water cycle to the
acidity of the oceans. We cannot wish that away; we must recognise it
and manage our impacts.
That is central to our cover story. Johan Rockström, head of the
Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, and colleagues have distilled
recent research on how Earth systems work into a list of nine "planetary
boundaries" that we must stay within to live sustainably (see "From
ocean to ozone: Earth's nine life-support systems"). It is preliminary
work, and many will disagree with where the boundaries are set. But the
point is to offer a new way of thinking about our relationship with the
environment - a science-based picture that accepts a certain level of
human impact and even allows us some room to expand. The result is a
breath of fresh air: though we are already well past three of the
boundaries, we haven't trashed the place yet.
It is in the same spirit that we also probe the basis for key claims in
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report on climate
impacts (see "Can we trust the IPCC on the big stuff?"). This report has
been much discussed since our revelations about its unsubstantiated
statement on melting Himalayan glaciers. Why return to the topic?
Because there is a sense that the IPCC shares the same anti-human agenda
and, as a result, is too credulous of unverified numbers. While the
majority of the report is assuredly rigorous, there is no escaping the
fact that parts of it make claims that go beyond the science.
For example, the chapter on Africa exaggerates a claim about crashes in
farm yields, and also highlights projections of increased water stress
in some regions while ignoring projections in the same study that point
to reduced water stress in other regions. These errors are not trifling.
They are among the report's headline conclusions.
Some will see our investigation as an unwelcome distraction in a
propaganda battle to get action on climate change. But if we are to
manage the anthropocene successfully, we need cooler heads and clearer
Above all, we need a dispassionate view of the state of the planet and
our likely future impact on it. There's no room for complacency:
Rockström's analysis shows us that we face real dangers, but
exaggerating our problems is not the way to solve them.
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