A misleading “consensus” on climate change

In: Uncategorized

21 Mar 2009

A piece on the BBC website by Mike Hulme, a professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, on the misleading idea of a consensus at a conference of over 2,000 climate change researchers in Copenhagen this week. From his account it was a vigorous and thoughtful conference with numerous opinions being expressed on a wide range of subjects related to climate change. Yet the 600 word statement, containing six key messages, coming out of the conference was largely drafted before it started by a small organising committee. It did not, in his view, represent the collective consensus of the event:

“The six key messages are not the collective voice of 2,000 researchers, nor are they the voice of established bodies such as the WMO [World Meteorological Organization]. Neither do they arise from a collective endeavour of experts, for example through a considered process of screening, synthesising and reviewing.”

He also criticises the vagueness of the messages:

“It … seems problematic to me when such lively, well-informed and yet largely unresolved debates get reduced to six key messages, messages that on the one hand carry the aura of urgency, precision and scientific authority – “there is no excuse for inaction” – and yet at the same time remain so imprecise as to dictate or resolve nothing in political terms.”

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