The danger of exaggeration
Published 30th October 2009 - 2 comments - 898 views -
The perils of crying "Wolf!" are well documented and if more confirmation of its pernicious effects are needed, then "Exaggerated claims undermine drive to cut emissions, scientists warn" hammers the point home. Sir David King, a former chief government science adviser to the British government, and now the director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford warns:
"When people overstate happenings that aren't necessarily climate-change-related, or set up as almost certainties things that are difficult to establish scientifically, it distracts from the science we do understand. The danger is they can be accused of scaremongering. Also, we can all become described as kind of left-wing greens."
No wonder campaigners are finding it tough going to generate public support for a low-emission energy future. The constant overstating of the case reminds one of the Ithaca episode of Ulysses by James Joyce, with its dire warnings of "eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts…" That was 1922 and most of the world is still above water.
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