Climate Change, Science and Scepticism – what does it all mean for the future?

12th Sep, 2014

On return from holiday there’s certainly no shortage of potential topics to talk about in this week’s blog. Having resisted the various attractions of the Apple launch event, the new U2 album, Scottish Devolution, the Royal Baby (surely not connected) and X-Factor going thrice weekly I’ve opted for something completely different and yet incredibly familiar.

New (Populus) research published this week by PR Week – as part of a special focus on the subject – reveals high levels of climate scepticism among Westminster MPs, with an overwhelming majority of Conservative MPs not accepting that climate change is man-made and only 51% of all MPs accepting that this is a proven fact. Complementary research (YouGov) across a representative sample of the GB public reveals that 60% agree that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity.

Thus 49% of Westminster MPs and 40% of the British Public are yet to embrace the overwhelming scientific consensus represented by the exhaustive work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988. Of course we’re all familiar with similar surveys, our own work with Clear Channel last year revealed that 36% of the Network Generation claimed the case had not been proven and many of us will know of people who think it’s somehow cool to doubt the science.

Rarely, if ever, can such a formidable global network of non-partisan academics have come together to work for so long on such a multifaceted scientific issue – let alone one that has reached such an overwhelming consensus on the key questions.

And yet we still doubt, and still feel the need to give balanced media coverage and so credibility to the sceptics – some of whom claim to be scientists. Indeed in the same issue of PR Week, Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, glibly claims that man-made climate change doesn’t exist and that fracking makes fossil fuel energy supplies secure for the future (so that’s OK).  Perhaps Mr Peiser should have taken a look at The Economist article looking in detail at the analyses of the current pause in global warming and the role of the oceans in explaining this apparent aberration.

Seriously, what is the problem here? At Trajectory our trademark intellectual optimism about the future is predicated on our confidence in science, ingenuity and technology in enabling us to adapt to change. That opportunity is there today, and it’s incredibly exciting as well as challenging – so why not focus on the positive potential and the vast range of benefits that could accrue globally?

Even in the USA, certainly at the highest levels of government, the mood music has changed in the face of recent climactic events, now is the time to reimagine our economies and societies and to shape a positive collaborative and cooler future for the planet, for ourselves, for our neighbours and of course for future generations.

Now. About that new U2 album…..