Posted by: energyblogwalter | February 12, 2010

Re: Scientists should stick to science :: Toronto Star Feb 12, 2010–scientists-should-stick-to-science

email reply to Richard Gwyn:

Hi Mr Gwyn,

I’m concerned that the reference to scientists shortcomings are only a
means to cover up and justify the continuation of planetary pollution
and ever increasing population unabated.  Where was the importance
given to take the opportunity now to get off our polluted ways because
it would be now cheaper to do?  This was a colossal opportunity lost.
Thus readers may pass the buck further along for those smug in their
polluted lives.  Yes scientists made mistakes, but not all of them.
This is like saying because some math is wrong somewhere, all math is
wrong everywhere.  A stronger teaching moment was possible here in
that as science moves back and forth that any followup conclusions
must be accepted and can no longer be denied.  The goal posts can move
a step further by quashing the denier mentality, at the expense of
overreaching propaganda, and a caveat to each that conclusions are
subject to change.  That seems to be an ideal outcome here and I was
surprised you missed this opportunity to accept science over drama.

I can’t believe this is your desired outcome.  We have now an even
better chance to change our ways with the best possible result at a
far lower cost, but instead that idea is surprisingly missing, and
conspicuous from its absence.  Can this generation do nothing but
leave me their crap to clean up?

Recognizing failure is one thing.  Justifying continuation of
pollution is quite another.  Given a reprieve of this magnitude, we
are instead prepared to sit on our hands and do nothing, smirking
(hatefully so?) towards the generations around us who are destined to
suffer for it.  Thanks a bunch!  But again I think you don’t mean to
write off all responsibility?

I’m no longer young myself but still I argue with my dad all the time
about climate change.  A topic I have been aware of since 1994 or so
and given a science background I am not at all surprised of the human
factors.  Yet science continues.  It’s like democracy though, it needs
an infusion of purpose from time to time.  This is one of those times
and a wonderful teaching moment.  The goal posts move along at their
own pace, and not by their practitioners.  For a non-science public to
continue to miss the point can only continue with these missing
perspectives in an article such as yours.  If Canadians can become
aware of funny words like proroguing, then probabilistic outcomes
can’t be the chore it once was.

I enjoy your articles as they often highlight an important topic with
eloquence, but the curious case of the dog not barking here to
highlight the greatest opportunity in human history, to prevent global
suffering, leaves me stunned.

Best Regards,


  1. reply from Mr Gwyn.

    “””Thank you for your comments. The issue isn’t global waming: the evidemnce that it is happening is very strong. The issue is how imminent and how extensive will the damage be? That’s to say, does it merit that kind of sweeping changes being proposed which will impose considerable costs on an already weakened economic system, resulting in higher unemployment etc.

    If the scale of the damage and the imminense of its arriving has been exaggerated, for which there is some evidence (not conclusive evidence),
    then we can proceed at a more measured, and less destructive pace. This is the issue that the discovry of these mistakes has brought to the fore.”””

  2. Thank you for the reply.

    I’d say yes, consequences of climate change merit action, and this scientific adjustment is a gift. One that we should relish and celebrate. But I can hardly save what must be removed in order to change.

    I’m afraid this is not being understood and overall results in business as usual. Deniers slapping themselves on the back and not realizing the epiphany of this scientific teaching moment which should have switched them over to what should be the new acceptable science. The goal posts moved back a bit, but no further. This should have furrowed some brows in astonishment. Thus if their concerns are now met, but the scientific ship only took a glancing blow and is still heading where its heading, that should have woken people up on a global scale. I was hoping to celebrate global unity as a result. I hope it comes soon!

    If we build on our own momentum we’d stop waiting for someone else’s.
    Most plans based on reality take 2-5 years to implement, and can’t arrive just in time. (ie: what if you wanted to plant a fruit tree? Takes 2-3 years before it bears fruit. Even the carbon tax study in BC by PC’s figured 3 years before a positive result.). Thus now is the time, while its cheaper. If as a society we can’t even discuss this gift of time, such a gift which would have saved us serious money to implement the same result, no measured democratic plan can succeed and therefore must result in a haphazard less credible imposed one instead.

    The Kyoto Accord was a walk in the park. $9 billion a year for an economy the size of $1.2 Trillion was easily manageable. And like a bank account, if we started early and often, the pain of change would have dulled and instead blossomed by the time real adversity arrives. Forget about a specific date or event, I’d like to see us save for the eventuality. Public Health can do this, but suddenly our brains shut off on even more well researched climate change. As they say if we do the same thing and expect a different result is a form of insanity. We have the tools. We can guess what is good and bad. Let’s put the down payment in.

    Best Regards

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