Don’t just leave it up to scientists (hang on, I am a scientist!)

Authors: Euan Mason
Publication: New Zealand Journal of Forestry, Volume N.Z.J.For. 2007, Issue N.Z.J.For. 52(4) 2008, pp 2-3, Jan 2008
Publisher: New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Abstract: Decisions about our responses to climate change need to be distinguished from scientific hypothesis testing. Piers Maclaren’s November article prompted responses from a number of people who pointed out that there are uncertainties in global climate science (see the opinion section in this issue). Science thrives on debate, and we should welcome questions about what we think we know. The debate has shifted in the past few years, with fewer people suggesting that global climate is not changing, and more discussion about whether the observed change is affected by our activities or only by other factors. Scientific statements are almost always associated with uncertainty, but does this make them so unreliable that we shouldn’t act in response to them? It is reasonable that our responses should depend on both the degree of uncertainty and costs associated with alternatives.