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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. 

Category: Precipitation, | Tags: exaggeration, warning, scaremongering,


Mike on 31st October 2009:

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we’ve been only 10 years away from the “tipping point” for 15 years now.

Christian on 03rd November 2009:

David King said he doesn’t like exaggeration?


“Antarctica is likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the government’s chief scientist, Professor Sir David King said last week. He said the Earth was entering the ‘first hot period’ for 60 million years when there was no ice on the planet and “the rest of the globe could not sustain human life”.
(The Independent on Sunday, 2 May 2004)

H/t to

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