"A parent with an apparently healthy child takes the child to the doctor for annual checkup. The doctor consults with the parent after the checkup and, looking worried, explains that the child has unusual levels of CO2 in blood, nitrogen in urine, maybe a low-grade fever and a remarkable lack of diversity in the intestinal micro organisms so necessary for metabolism and essential micro nutrients.
"The doctor goes on to say that the laboratory measurements were so unusual they repeated all of the measurements on fresh samples of blood, urine and stool. Same results. The doctor says she has never seen anything like this in many years of practice.The doctor says she doesn't know exactly what this means since it has never been seen before and notes these measured level are consistent with certain of the child's activities. The doctor strongly recommend immediate steps be taken to lower the levels and re-establish biodiversity.
"The parent says my child appears healthy. I'm getting a second opinion. Parent does that and in the end takes child to 100 doctors, and 100 different labs do the workup. All the measurements come out the same. Ninety-seven of the doctors recommend immediate action to lower the levels even though they do not know exactly what would be the consequences of doing nothing.
"One of the doctors looks at the same measurements and says is could be a natural part of growing up for this particular child and recommends wait and see if something bad happens.
"Now, suppose you're the parent. What would you do?"
Notes: The medical metaphors for climate change are among the most effective because medicine is an area of science that is familiar to almost everybody, requires confidence in the advice of experts, involves diagnosis, estimated prognosis, prompt treatment and risks/costs.
Bite Source: 'One way to illustrate the illogical reasoning of climate deniers' was written by Thomas A. Moore, Ph.D., Director of the ASU Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis.
The 'parable' was suggested by a comment by Arnold Schwarzenegger to Thomas L. Friedman.