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Science Media Centre: Time to shift climate debate – The Gisborne Herald


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An Editorial in the Gisborne Herald makes a stand on climate deniers’ correspondence in the paper’s letters section. You can read the original editorial here.

Less scope for ‘denialists’ as climate change certainty rises

No one should read the occasional columns and letters on these pages written by people who do not believe in human-induced climate change, and the responses to them by climate scientists, as a “debate”.

Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. It is an incremental endeavour, with new knowledge rarely resulting in vast changes to scientific understanding of the sort “denialists” say is necessary.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the focus of their attacks, works on behalf of the world’s governments. Its more than 800 authors are selected by fellow scientists and are acknowledged leaders in the disciplines relevant to climate change.

Manu Caddie’s letter today highlights an important issue for editors, especially with the room for doubt over human involvement in climate change now almost extinguished. The IPCC’s recent report halved the possibility human greenhouse gas emissions are not the main driver of climate change, from 10 percent in its last report in 2007 to less than 5 percent now.

Many editors have rejected climate-change denial letters for a long time; your editor has chosen to seek responses from climate scientists, and is indebted to James Renwick and Jim Salinger in particular for doing so. Clearly they have better things to do with their time than respond to pseudoscience, but their efforts mean Gisborne Herald readers are probably better informed on climate change than New Zealanders in general.

It is time, though, to test their patience less by rejecting more climate change denial letters.

Your newspaper will not close off avenues to question elements of climate science entirely. This is the most important issue of our time and needs to be in the public eye — especially the latest scientific findings, political responses and debate over the actions needed to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.

Read on the Gisborne Herald site.


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