Canadians have been deluged with reports about climate change for two decades, but polls still indicate that in most western countries, only about half of us believe in the science of the issue.
Perhaps this is because most of what we hear comes from politicians and often exaggerated media reports, not from scientists.
Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is a good example. The Oscar-winning film was a mixture of entertainment and carefully crafted political propaganda, not a scientific work.
As a politician, Gore is used to these kinds of tactics. In the short run, an emotional quote, a dramatic graph, or a snappy rebuttal in a debate, can help win an election.
But climate change is a long term, issue-based campaign, and political spin will never hold up to serious scrutiny.
The public DOES trust science – scientists are routinely near the top of ‘most trusted professions’ surveys. Politicians, on the other hand, are always near the bottom.
If scientists really want to find the truth and win the public over, they need to tell the politicians to stop exaggerating their results for political gain, and let them get on with their work.
We would all benefit from a climate change debate based on science, rather than politics.
I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.
For more on environmental policy, visit www.fcpp.org.