Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brands of science denialism (Letter 4)

More global warming denialist myths are busted: the earth is warming, has been warming for at least thirty years and satellite and surface data match. We need to stop searching for a ‘broad community consensus’ on the science and instead began to discuss what action to take.

We may as well look for a consensus on, say, evolution. The arguments raised by the denialists are eerily similar to those raised by the Creation Science/Intelligent Design movement in the United States – overstating the nature of the debate, quote-mining sources and generally rubbishing the science. The arguments against both climate change and evolution are fundamentally anti-science.

Science is best decided by scientists. Scientific debate is best held in scientific journals; it is not the job of politicians or the public to tell scientists that they are wrong about the science itself; it is our job to decide what to do about the scientific facts once they are determined.

We need to remember Mbeki’s South Africa, which balked at the cost of antiretrovirals and denied the link between HIV and AIDS. The death toll from that decision is still to be determined, but is estimated to be as high as ten million.

The cost of doing nothing about climate change will not be so immediate or so dramatic, but no less inevitable without action now.

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