A History of the Climate Change Controversies

After obtaining and analysing the documents and emails from the Climate Research Unit email controversy (the so-called Climategate emails), Der Spiegel “reveals how the war between climate researchers and climate skeptics broke out, the tricks the two sides used to outmaneuver each other and how the conflict could be resolved”.

The result is an exceptional and comprehensive article on the history of the climate change issue and the scientists’ place in it.

The article concludes:

Sociologist Peter Weingart believes that the damage could be irreparable. “A loss of credibility is the biggest risk inherent in scientific communication,” he said, adding that trust can only be regained through complete transparency. […]

It seems all but impossible to provide conclusive proof in climate research. Scientific philosopher Silvio Funtovicz [described] climate research as a “postnormal science.” On account of its high complexity, he said it was subject to great uncertainty while, at the same time, harboring huge risks.

The experts therefore face a dilemma: They have little chance of giving the right advice. If they don’t sound the alarm, they are accused of not fulfilling their moral obligations. However, alarmist predictions are criticized if the predicted changes fail to materialize quickly.

Climatological findings will probably remain ambiguous even if further progress is made. Weingart says it’s now up to scientists and society to learn to come to terms with this. In particular, he warns, politicians must understand that there is no such thing as clear results. “Politicians should stop listening to scientists who promise simple answers,” Weingart says.

via Art and Letters Daily