The difficulty with climate change is that its effects are masked by the variations in the weather that have a more immediate impact on our lives. Trying to get to the bottom of climate change often requires interpretation of complicated graphs of temperature variations, many of which make assumptions that are reasonable to the scientist(s) who created the graph. These assumptions are outside our sphere of knowledge, and so beyond our ability to judge. We are inclined to accept the graphs and the conclusions they support because of the credibility of their creator(s).
We are baffled when other scientists, often with a long string of initials are their names, reject those assumptions, or dispute the validity of their projection into the future. We don’t appreciate that science benefits from scepticism, and rejection of an opinion is a salutary part of an on-going process. Although we can manage probabilities and time lines concerning events that present a challenge to our daily lives, we are uncertain when confronted with a truly calamitous impact upon our civilization that we have grown accustomed to thinking of as the epitome of human progress.
Because of a very few, well-publicized, erroneous claims about the effects of climate change, we may feel that we have taken in by exaggerations. Bjørn Lomborg, who is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, goes further. He said in a recent article reported by the Globe & Mail:
“The fact is, trying to scare the socks off people with end-of-the-world rhetoric doesn’t make the world a better or safer place. Yes, a startling statistic combined with some hyperbolic prose will make us sit up and pay attention. But we quickly become desensitized, requiring ever more outrageous scenarios to move us. And as the scare stories grow more exaggerated, so, too, does the likelihood that they will be exposed for the exaggerations they are – and the public will end up tuning the whole thing out. “
It is understandable if lay people are relieved if they can wash their hands of climate change until scientists get their house in order.
Forourgrandchildren does not agree that we can wait. There is significant unanimity among scientists, and we cannot expect more. Whatever does happen can be projected to affect the twenty-first century world and millions of people in it, some of whom will be our grandchildren. Won’t you join us in our efforts to keep the issue before the Canadian Government and the people of Canada?