Brian Cox: scientists giving false sense of debate on climate change

Scientists are doing the public a disservice in their attempts to communicate certainty in climate change science, often giving a “false sense of debate” by being overly precise, says broadcaster and physicist Professor Brian Cox.

 

Climate scientists are 95% certain that humans are the main cause of the current global warming the world is experiencing. But Cox said this level of accuracy had been manipulated by “nonsensical”, politically-motivated climate sceptics.

“I think we do a disservice to the public. If you look down the [camera] lens and see your head of department or your PhD supervisor, whoever it might be, then you’ll start being scientifically precise and you’ll mislead the public. Because you’ll give them a false sense of debate,” he told an audience at a fundraiser for the Society of Biology.

He said scientists could say with total confidence that climate science was uncontroversial and the current predictions for warming were the best advice available.

“The scientific view at the time is the best, there’s nothing you can do that’s better than that. So there’s an absolutism. It’s absolutely the best advice,” he said.

Cox, a physicist who works on the Large Hadron Collider where the Higgs boson was discovered, said that 95% certainty in science is effectively total.

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission