My letter dissecting Mr. McKee’s original Jan. 8 climate change denial column sparked quite a bit of interest in these pages both from Mr. McKee as well as from a number of online commenters, brave and anonymous, across the internet. As a champion of scientific literacy and critical thinking, I am glad that we are having this discourse and that we seem to be making progress.
Mr. McKee’s Jan. 23 column, “Europe’s latest move sheds light on hot topic of climate change,” appears to welcome a much more practical conversation, namely what to do about it. In my debates with climate change denialists, I often find they conflate “science” and “policy,” allowing the fear of the latter to obfuscate the evidence from the former. I’m not sure if this is simply a debate tactic to create red herrings that distract from the evidence or if there is a genuine misunderstanding between the scientific method and the policy implications of scientific findings. Either way, while the peer-reviewed science is clear, the proper policy responses remain a bit more elusive.
Whether climate change denialists like to admit this or not, planning for the potential economic and social impacts of climate change is already happening in insurance companies, real estate development firms, disaster response agencies, public health agencies and military commands across the world. These organizations and businesses do not have the luxury of relying upon a few well-known climate contrarians and right wing talk radio hosts for their climate science; instead they must responsibly plan based on evidence and probability. They and their stakeholders know that closing one’s eyes and plugging one’s ears is no way to tackle a problem.