Photo courtesy of carolune via Flickr
Writing about the ‘climate change debate’, Ananda Kalukin and Sidarth Ram emphasize dissenting viewpoints and describe a “shouting match in which buzzwords and name calling are prevalent.” (“Hotly Contested Climate Change”, March 15th) So may it be in the eyes of the writers, but what value does this kind of article bring to the reader? As an interviewee in the article correctly notes, the public is already subjected to media coverage of climate change not as a pressing global issue, but as 1v1 spectator sport of the Bill Nye-Ken Ham variety. “Is the planet’s warming…over the past century significant?” Yes. “Is [climate change] caused by humans?” Yes. “Science or pseudoscience?” Definitely science. Yet these are apparently what TJ Today considers the most pressing questions facing us on climate change. Of course anthropogenic climate change is in doubt. Doubt is a feature of modern science, contradicting the deeply ingrained human desire for absolute certainty. But we should heed the advice of no less a personage than Richard Feynman and accept uncertainty as part of any scientific position. We should resist the temptation to make mountains out of molehills by exaggerating allowable margins of scientific doubt into “hotly contested” debate. This magazine could be using its resources, unique access, and journalistic talent to inform the community about real climate change solutions–perhaps even about research taking place in this very school. Or it could devote precious column inches to explaining the role of uncertainty in science. Instead, TJ Today is at best unintentionally muddying the waters of public discourse, and at worst deliberately pursuing sensationalist headlines, dramatic photo spreads, and bland palatability at the expense of substantive inquiry and an informed philosophy of science.