The Truth Sometimes Hurts

We scientists need help to communicate in a post-truth world


By Kate Marvel on August 8, 2018


“More seriously, every time I talk about the uncertainties inherent in climate projections, I feel attacked from all sides of the climate mitigation debate. I admit that in the current landscape, any expression of uncertainty is immediately weaponized by those who want to delay climate action.”


Stop and think a minute. Many of our professionals work in an atmosphere of uncertainty. Take, for instance, our medical profession.  Despite their utmost efforts to “get it right” all the time, the human body doesn’t react to medicine in the same way every day.  Why?  We are a complex, living organism, not a machine.  Earth is a complex, living organism also. As a living organism, our usual measuring instruments miss the mark because they were designed to deal with a machine-like inanimate “things.” Thus there has to be some uncertainty with climate change predictions.  Consider weather.  The weather forecasts are full of uncertainty and often off centre.  So, we live with that.  Climate is just weather over a long period of time.


Consider our dedicated and compassionate medical workers do their best with the tools they have available yet they work daily with uncertainty and we accept that.


Climate scientists are often in the best position to analyse and make responsible moral judgements re: climate change.  Who knows better?  When it comes to risk, I’d sooner believe a few climate change researchers than a spokesperson for an industry that takes profits from CO2 emitting activities.