Scientists urged to make a stand on climate change

April 24, 2008

Scientists must work harder at making the public aware of the stark difference between good science and "denialist spin".

That's the call from Professor Barry Brook, Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

In an opinion piece published today in the May issue of 'Australasian Science', Professor Brook has urged scientists to stand up to those who deny climate change, and do more to push "good science".

"In climate science and policy, those few apparently well-educated people who continue to deny the now vast body of scientific knowledge and analysis on the causes and consequences of global warming are variously called sceptics, denialists, contrarians, delayers or delusionists. Whatever the label you attach to them, they are all cut of the same anti-intellectual cloth," Professor Brook writes.

"Their business is the dissemination of disinformation, doubt and unscientific nonsense. One of their most regular ploys is to leverage the widespread lack of public appreciation of how science operates."

Professor Brook says that because science is inherently complex and often technical, climate change deniers are often able to present a plausible case to a general audience.

"Some people will attempt to hijack science for political or ideological reasons and in doing so besmirch science’s public image. They are good at doing this, and they often exert a disproportionate influence on policy. Some will simply argue that the Earth is flat because 'it looks flat'," he writes.

"Groups with vested interests in business-as-usual (such as tobacco spokespeople or fossil fuel lobbyists) will attempt to push so-called 'scientific evidence' to support their claims. In fact they are at best drawing selectively on a small part of the evidence, or at worst relying on 'junk' science – that is, outdated, discredited or fabricated data and ideas.

"If confronted with good science, deniers sidestep valid critiques and ignore counter-evidence (or dismiss it by deferring to other discredited ideas). They are hard to pin down because they don’t want a serious scientific debate.

"Active and forthright public communication of science is not only an obligation of scientists, but a critical necessity. This is especially true for climate change and environmental sustainability, where we are perilously close to running out of time."

Source: University of Adelaide

Explore further: A seemingly symbolic action shifted the climate change debate

Related Stories

A seemingly symbolic action shifted the climate change debate

October 20, 2017

On the face of it, environmentalist Bill McKibben's international climate campaign to have universities divest fossil fuel assets had limited success. Only a handful of institutions pledged to divest and it didn't affect ...

Proposed New Mexico science standards omit global warming

October 16, 2017

A proposed overhaul of New Mexico's state science standards for public schools came under intense criticism Monday at a packed public hearing in the state capital for omitting or deleting references to global warming, evolution ...

Recommended for you

New magma pathways after giant lateral volcano collapses

October 23, 2017

Giant lateral collapses are huge landslides occurring at the flanks of a volcano. Giant lateral collapses are rather common events during the evolution of a large volcanic edifice, often with dramatic consequences such as ...

Scientists warn that saline lakes in dire situation worldwide

October 23, 2017

Saline lakes around the world are shrinking in size at alarming rates. But what—or who—is to blame? Lakes like Utah's Great Salt Lake, Asia's Aral Sea, the Dead Sea in Jordan and Israel, China's huge Lop Nur and Bolivia's ...

Mountain glaciers shrinking across the West

October 22, 2017

Until recently, glaciers in the United States have been measured in two ways: placing stakes in the snow, as federal scientists have done each year since 1957 at South Cascade Glacier in Washington state; or tracking glacier ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.5 / 5 (8) Apr 24, 2008
Translation: Scientists urged to be good sheep and say "bahhhh" with the rest of the and dissenting opinions be damned.
2.5 / 5 (8) Apr 24, 2008
" "Groups with vested interests in business-as-usual (such as tobacco spokespeople or fossil fuel lobbyists) will attempt to push so-called 'scientific evidence' to support their claims." .... hmmm, such as those getting large sums of grant money to 'prove' a human-to-large-climate-change link...
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 24, 2008
I am a fellow scientist and I have strong scientific evidence that Prof. Brooks is speaking through his hat.

Why should I ignore the scientifc evidence that I have, so that I can conform to an outdated and discredited idea that human CO2 emisions are driving climate change?

I prefer to use the scientific method and let the observations and the evidence drive my conclusions.

Prof. Brooks prefers to use "scientific concensus" to form his pseudo-scientific conclusions
3.3 / 5 (7) Apr 24, 2008
Ah Yes,posters Periodic grid revv causes the warming and it will abate as usual.I need a nice vacation Mr.Australian Science guy,I would gladly debate you and change your paradigm,if you were actually intellectually curious........
3.6 / 5 (7) Apr 25, 2008
"If confronted with good science, deniers sidestep valid critiques and ignore counter-evidence (or dismiss it by deferring to other discredited ideas). They are hard to pin down because they don%u2019t want a serious scientific debate."... Sounds like this is a problem with the general public, and has nothing to do with the researchers. Besides, you research and publish what you discover. That's it. There is no responsibility to explain everything and every step to the layman. Generally science writers for newspapers and magazines are responsible for that. If the public is concerned with what they read from those science writers... THEY (the public) have the responsibility to go look into the matter further. Hell, scientific publications are easy to access online. Look it up people, quit bitching to the researchers.
2.7 / 5 (6) Apr 25, 2008
I looked at both data and the global warming theory wins by far. Look a the data and study the scientific results, it will become obvious that Mr. Brook is right. Well maybe some of you have given up a little early, remember, it is easier not to understand and deny science than to understand it.
3 / 5 (6) Apr 25, 2008
So what are we to think when in 5-10 years, these people switch back to global cooling just like 30 yrs ago, and global warming 25 yrs before that. This has been going back and forth since 1900, in 20 - 25 yrs cycles. Largley driven by the media. First we had to go to electric cars, then , uh-oh! Electric cars may not be so clean after all. Then it was biofuels but now bio fuels may not be as clean as we thought (plus of course its causing a big food crisis now). The thing is we havent really ramped up on the biofuel production yet. Were still in the early stages of it, barely out of the proof of concept stage. If just one prediction of doom in the last 40 years had come true or just one solution that really was a actual solution had come about, i might give the enviros some credit..but it seems that whenever they open their mouths , either to predict destruction or propose a cure, they are never right. And of course the villians are always corporations and the heroes are of course bigger government and higher taxes.
3 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2008
The earth did not become flat again after it became round. The cfc did not stop causing ozone whole. Some are still saying tobaco is not causing cancer! The Co2 are causing Global Warming. That's it. Beleive that something very odd, that the vast vast majority of the scientifics are wrong if you want (though they are not religious leaders of the 16th and 17th cntury, quite the opposit really) but it just aint right.
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 27, 2008
I mean, the argument that we should reject Global Warming facts because it might not be proven enough, is an emotional%u3000one, and can't b use to dicredit G.W. scientific facts.
3 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2008
DKA argument from authority (which is what you're doing) is actually a logical fallacy. Just because a certian number of scientists say something is true does not mean that it is. Not so long ago most scientists agreed that space travel was impossible...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.