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The Uncertainty Around Climate Change Is Being Hidden


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Climate Etc

5 minutes



How would you explain the complexity and uncertainty surrounding climate change plus how we should respond (particularly with regards to CO2 emissions) in five minutes?


Last week I served on a panel for a summer school in Canada for engineering students. They are working on the energy transition, and their Professor wanted them to be exposed to the debate surrounding all this, and to think critically. I was the only climate scientist on the panel, the others were involved in renewable energy. Each panelist was given 5 minutes to make their main points. The essay below is what i came up with. 5 minutes is longer than an elevator speech, but it is still pretty short


Let me start with a quick summary of what is referred to as the ‘climate crisis:’

Its warming.  The warming is caused by us.  Warming is dangerous.  We need to urgently transition to renewable energy to stop the warming.  Once we do that, sea level rise will stop and the weather won’t be so extreme.

So what’s wrong with this narrative?  In a nutshell, we’ve vastly oversimplified both the problem and its solutions.  The complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity of the existing knowledge about climate change is being kept away from the policy and public debate. The solutions that have been proposed are technologically and politically infeasible on a global scale.:snip:


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