SCIENCE MATTERS: World continually ignores scientists’ work at its own peril

NANAIMO – Research confirms agreement among most climate scientists that we are altering the Earth’s climate.

It’s happening again. Research confirms agreement among most climate scientists that we are altering the Earth’s climate, mainly by burning fossil fuels.

And industrial interests, backed by climate-change deniers, pull out every trick to sow doubt and confusion.

For the latest study, investigators led by John Cook at Skeptical Science examined abstracts of 12,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate science. They also received comments from 1,200 scientists, who rated more than 2,100 full studies. In both cases, more than 97 per cent of studies that took a position on the causes of global warming said human activity is a primary factor. Less than one per cent rejected the consensus position. The results are consistent with previous research.

Deniers often rely on talking points spread by a handful of usual suspects, including Christopher Monckton in the U.K., the Heartland Institute and Anthony Watts in the U.S., and Friends of Science and Tom Harris in Canada.

Science isn’t perfect, but it’s one of the best tools we have for understanding our place in the cosmos. When people around the world apply rigorous scientific method to study our actions and their impacts on the things that keep us alive and healthy – clean air, water, soil and biodiverse plants and animals – we must listen.

Many of the proposed solutions have long been advocated by people working in science, the environment and even business: conserving energy and reducing fossil fuel use; better ecosystem management through processes like natural capital evaluation; improved food production and distribution and waste reduction; regulating and preventing pollution; and stabilizing population growth through better education, health care, family-planning services, economic opportunities and women’s rights.

Humanity has changed direction before. When our tools become outdated, we invent new ones. It’s why in many countries, we no longer rely on slavery to maintain economies, we can all vote regardless of race or sex and we enjoy longer and healthier lives than before.

We can and must change the way we act. That requires listening to scientists and those who are working on solutions, and not to the naysayers and deniers who would keep us stalled in a doomed spiral.