Knotty Issue: Drafting Climate Change Policy in the face of scientific uncertainty

One of the best things about speaking my mind in print and on line is that it gives me the chance to “meet” people who are willing to challenge me or share viewpoints that put mine in perspective. Such was the case this morning, when I got an e-mail from Andrew Wright, who wrote an article for entitled “Scientific talk on climate change.”

Andrew responded to a letter I had published in the September issue of Physics Today about the proper role of prestigious scientific societies in public policy debates. I blogged about the letter here, and spurred a bit of discussion. He liked the points I made in that letter, especially as they applied to climate change science, and shared a link to his article.

To persuade you to follow that link, I quote part of a short sentence from early in the article and his concluding paragraph:

human health and environmental policy require management decisions ahead of scientific certainty


Scientific advice represents the best information available about a particular situation, even if some details remain uncertain. Policy decisions must obviously consider other factors – like economics. However, short-term economic interests should not be allowed to derail more appropriate, long-term and scientifically-based decision-making.

Read my reviews of books about weather and climate at the Science Shelf.