Source: Changing Planet: Past, Present, Future, Lecture 4 – Climate Change: How Do We Know We're Not Wrong? by Dr. Naomi Oreskes. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Holiday Lectures on Science, November 2012.
Extended Quote: by Dr. Naomi Oreskes:
"There is a lot about the earth's system that we don't know. But there is a lot that we do know, and we know the Earth's climate system is changing right now and it's changing right in front of our eyes. It's become so obvious that you cannot really deny the changes are underway.
But we also know those changes are driven by human activities and that is the part the we need science that comes from our basic understanding of physics and chemistry. And that certain gases trap heat in the atmosphere and when you put more of those gases in the atmosphere, you trap more heat and that warms the planet.
And that's basic physics, that's high school physics and chemstry, that's something any person in the United States can understand and should understand and anyone who tells you that's uncertain is either very confused or they're lying."
Notes: In this introduction interview with Dr. Oreskes, she starts by saying,
"One thing that's really important for all people to understand is the the whole notion of certainty is mistaken, and its's something that climate skeptics and deniers and the opponents of evolution really exploit.
Many of us think that scientific knowledge is certain, so therefore if someone comes along and points out the uncertainities in a certain scientific body of knowledge, we think that undermines the science. We think that means that there's a problem in the science.
And so part of my message is to say that view of science is incorrect, that the reality of science is that it is always uncertain. Because if we are actually doing research, it means we're asking questions (about things) that we don't already know about.
So uncertainty is part of the lifeblood of science, it's something we need to embrace and realize it's a good thing, not a bad thing.
And if somebody comes along and says, 'Well, you know, evolution is very uncertain,' you can say, 'Well, of course it is. All life science is uncertain. But the fact is that there are some parts of it that are extremely well established. There are are some parts for which the evidence is so robust and so strong that it would be silly to dismiss it. And that is the same with climate change.'"
The uncertainty of science is beautiful. It should be embraced.
At the same time, the evidence for climate change is overwhelming. It is as simple as basic high school physics and chemistry.
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