For climate scientists who just want the government, any government, to take action on global warming, it is indeed a terrible time. The scandal widely known as Climategate first started at the Copenhagen summit with the exposure of scientific proof that rendered the whole “humans caused global warming” argument moot. While it is true that the public does not place lot of trust in scientists when it comes to the problem that is global warming, the topic has been one of the most widely debated between politicians and scientists alike.
While it is true that a very recent IPCC report did state global warming was likely caused by the activity of humans, skeptics argue that even the IPCC is influenced by politics and hitherto unknown agendas. The truth however, is that most scientists are at least as cautious as politicians, if not more, when it comes to announcing a doomsday prophecy regarding global warming. While more than a tenth saw little to no danger in the next 100 years due to the rise in temperature, about 40% foresaw moderate anger while the same percentile saw catastrophic danger in the future too. Interestingly enough, a small percentage of scientists remained undecided on their opinion and declined to answer.
To be fair, the scientists’ genuine responses reflect a certain humility regarding our capacity to correctly predict the future. It also reflects a closer appraisal of the scientific community’s understanding of climate change today. Considering the origins of the debate, this hardly comes as a surprise, in light of the relatively recent origins of this debate. While this doesn’t signify blatant ignorance about climate change and its effects, it does mean more information is required on global warming. Political leaders must strive to acknowledge that science can help them make informed choices on their environmental policies but cannot be pressured to dictate them. As Climategate most glibly revealed, searching for certainty as political cover can surely backfire.