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  • Debates on responsibility distract us from action


In a December 2004 issue of Science Naomi Oreskes of the University of California, San Diego, argued there is a strong scientific consensus that human actions have affected climate (see Scientists agree that humans cause climate change).

In a letter to the editor of Science this week, Roger A. Pielke Jr. responds — and Oreskes agrees — that it matters little whether or not there are differing scientific perspectives regarding climate change. It need not prevent the development of policies tackling climate change, says Pielke Jr.  

Pielke Jr., of the University of Colorado Center for Science and Technology Research, United States, says that consensus does not mean uniformity of perspective. Rather, policies tackling climate change must be robust enough to accommodate a range of scientific views, he argues.

In her reply, Oreskes says she was merely pointing out that scientific disputes over the issue had been exaggerated. She agrees with Pielke Jr. that proxy debates on scientific uncertainty distract from the real issue — how best to respond to the range of likely outcomes of global warming.

Link to letters by Pilke Jr. and Oreskes in Science

Read more about climate change in SciDev.Net's change climate dossier.

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