Sunday, May 27, 2007

Scientific reticence and sea level rise

In Environmental Research Letters, James Hansen of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies points out the dangers of excessive caution among scientists in communicating about one aspect of climate change: I suggest that a `scientific reticence' is inhibiting the communication of a threat of a potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control. I argue for calling together a panel of scientific leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt plain-written report on current understanding of the sea level change issue.

Also: “There is, in my opinion, a huge gap between what is understood about human-made global warming and its consequences, and what is known by the people who most need to know, the public and policy makers. The IPCC is doing a commendable job, but we need something more. Given the reticence that the IPCC necessarily exhibits, there need to be supplementary mechanisms. The onus, it seems to me, falls on us scientists as a community.”

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