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Dentists, Cardiologists and the Climate Change Debate

Dentists, Cardiologists and the Climate Change Debate

 

In the latest controversy surrounding the climate change, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion editorial signed by 16 scientists. The piece spoke to the elections debate in the U.S., and argued there’s ‘no compelling scientific argument’ to ‘decarbonize’ global economy. Thus, there’s ‘no need to panic about global warming’ in the public policy debate.

 

The response from a group of 39 scientists who advocate action on climate change is that the opinion editorial is a metaphor of ‘climate-science equivalent to dentists practicing cardiology’. The 39-scientists argue, that the 16-scientists are not experts in climate change science. They say, it’s like ‘a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS’, or like a few scientists who claimed that smoking did not cause cancer, long after the science was settled.

 

The metaphor of human health has often emerged in Diplo’s climate change diplomacy course’s discussions. The analogy aids explanations about the causes and effects as well as facilitate discussion among participants with diverse views. But as Kat’s blogged here, metaphors embody our world-view and, so, ‘its more than a figure of speech’ – it’s something ‘we live by’.

 

@Revkin, New York Times eco-blogger, in his analysis of this new controversy makes an excellent observation using the human health metaphor and the difference between diagnosis and treatment: The 55-scientists entangled in the controversy may be missing a key point about their role. To quote,

You don’t consult a radiologist about how to proceed when a scan identifies a tumor. And even with oncologists, you absolutely pursue multiple opinions.

I had a relevant experience yesterday when I went to my general practitioner to discuss various issues. My stroke neurologist… has prescribed a full aspirin a day for the rest of my life — a wise course from her standpoint. My doctor said that guarantees a bleeding ulcer.

We’re figuring out a reasonable path navigating how to balance those very different risks.

 

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Tags: metaphors

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