Another year, another meeting to save the world from climate change. A notable difference between this year’s conference and the disaster that was Copenhagen was the absence of overwhelming publicity. Whereas last year’s garnered front page coverage, the media was deafeningly silent about last week’s Cancun summit. The lack of wall to wall coverage is likely not due to climate change being 'fixed'. No, the problem is – we're told – only getting worse every day, hour and minute for all humankind. Instead, there might be another dynamic at work: public skepticism.
In February, BBC News reported that the number of British people skeptical about climate change is rising. A good read, the polling confirms a couple of important points. One, the public is very much in-tune with the climate-change debate and, secondly, it is beginning to see through the ‘exaggerated risks’ associated with a changing climate. Obviously, the alarmism, incorrect facts and inflated rhetoric has had its opposite effect here in the UK as well as in the United States. The press, recognizing the continuing trend of public cooling towards climate change, is moving on to other, more pressing matters.
None of these results should be very surprising. The public is unconvinced and the hope should be that the science community gets back to basics before climate science is completely and utterly discredited. Climatology, such as it is, should be about the study of the climate – not a subset of campaigning scientists. We need scientists investigating, exploring and debating theories on climate science and the likely winners and losers. This, combined with a mature and rational discussion, would go a long way to serving the public and pursuing knowledge for the betterment of all.