Read, Debate: Engage.
Read, Debate: Engage.
map tooltip
Nature

Climate change: Politics, academia and the media

February 13th, 2014
in:Nature
by:Jonathan Lutes
located in:USA
tags:arctic vortex, climate-change, global-warming, James Hansen, michael mann

Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and author of the book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”, calls for scientists to speak out about climate change. There is now an unmistakable consensus among mainstream scientists that climate change is happening.

Yet, some politicians and members of the media refute the scientific approach and preach untruths in order to distract the public from the impending danger of global warming. The public is catching up with science as summers grow hotter and hotter, and unlikely weather patterns grow more and more frequent, such as the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the continental United States. The danger lies in waiting too long for confirmation, to the point when it has become too late to act.

The debate should no longer be about whether human-caused climate change is real; science, politics, and industry should be concerned with the question of how it can be slowed. This ultimately leads to the question of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and as long as the scientific world avoids the public arena, this issue will never be addressed with the necessary amount of political pressure.

As Mann and many others have experienced, taking science and opinion to the streets can be damaging to a career in academia. Even scientists that have been outspoken about climate change, such as Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science, have concerns about publications that show activist character, such as a recent one by a group of scientists around Dr. Hansen, the former director of the NASA Goddard  Institute for Space Studies. Should this stop Dr. Hansen or others from warning us about what we are doing the planet our children and grandchildren will have to inhabit? Should scientists actually have to choose between academic credibility and their moral obligations as citizens?

Article written by:
Jonathan Lutes
Author
Current Map: Our coverage

Related & recommended articles

Signup for our monthly newsletter
The Best Picks from Our Editors
Send