Clear Thinking on Climate Change

November 24th, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Oxford’s Steve Rayner is one of the most brilliant minds around on the issue of climate change.  This document, which we are pleased to provide in full, is an invited memorandum to the Environmental Audit Committee of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons.  The title of the memo is “The International Challenge of Climate Change: UK Leadership in the G8 and EU.” Rayner writes,

“In the end, climate policy comes down to a question of values – not science. The decision to proceed with effective climate policies cannot wait for a dramatic precipitating event.  In fact, it’s hard to visualize what such an event might be. But without one it seems that public pressures on government and private sector decision makers may not be sufficient to get them to take and sustain necessary actions. We also know that the public is more likely to be moved by disaster to support emergency relief than it is to offer sustained support for development assistance. Mobilizing public values rather than scientific consensus is the key to successful climate action. These may be good reasons to focus more attention than hitherto on adaptation policies that are more directly linked in the public imagination to the consequences of climate change than is the issue of emissions.”

The entire memo should be required reading for anyone interested in the realities of climate policy and clear thinking in the face of those realities.  The whole memo can be found here.

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