New Climate Science Update: Latest Findings Since 2006 Report

In summary, new climate science updates have revealed significant findings since the 2006 report. These include a more detailed understanding of the role of human activities in causing global warming and the impact of rising temperatures on extreme weather events. Additionally, research has shown that sea levels are rising at a faster rate than initially predicted, and the effects of climate change are already being felt in various parts of the world. These findings highlight the urgency for immediate action to mitigate the effects of climate change and implement sustainable practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • #71
vanesch said:
So, yes, science should communicate to the public, but only to those that "ask" for it, and without trying to convey a "message of action", because I don't think it is its duty and it is in any case a lost case.

An interesting aside... I agree it is worth looking at!

In my opinion, concepts like duty apply to people. I think everyone has a moral duty of care which means that if they discover something important that has a significant impact on other people, they DO have a duty to inform, and often they also have a duty to actually do something to alter the impact. This isn't just limited to science. If you are a bushwalker and see clear indications of fire in dry country, you have a duty to inform others if at all possible. If you notice an fire near at hand (say, a carelessly extinguished camp fire of other campers) then you may well also have a moral responsilbility to actually stop and put it out.

This is a matter of ethics; I'll let moral philosophers dig into details of various cases. But in general, I do think anyone has a duty of care; and that applies for scientists as much as anyone else.

I don't agree it is a lost cause. Some people seem determined to remain ignorant on various issues. Some people are open to being informed.

Finally, I think scientists are people are involved in more than only science. There's nothing wrong or inconsistent with a scientist also being a passionate advocate of some social cause. It might even be something which isn't "important" to other people; a good example would be scientists who become passionate about conservation of some ecosystem or species which doesn't actually have any economic or social impact; but which the scientist values and wants to preserve for its own sake. There's nothing wrong or inconsistent with being both a scientist and an activist.

Regardless of the passions or values of an individual scientist, the science itself should (IMO) continue to be evaluated on its merits as science in the same way, no matter how important the associated social or ethical issues. In THIS sense, I quite agree that science is orthogonal to social or ethical issues. But that says nothing about what scientists "ought" to do more generally.

Cheers -- sylas
 
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  • #72
sylas said:
In my opinion, concepts like duty apply to people. I think everyone has a moral duty of care which means that if they discover something important that has a significant impact on other people, they DO have a duty to inform, and often they also have a duty to actually do something to alter the impact. This isn't just limited to science. If you are a bushwalker and see clear indications of fire in dry country, you have a duty to inform others if at all possible. If you notice an fire near at hand (say, a carelessly extinguished camp fire of other campers) then you may well also have a moral responsilbility to actually stop and put it out.

Yes. But we're in the case:

- hey, there's a fire, let's put it out. Care to give me your water for it ?
- nah, there isn't a fire.
- yes, look there ! It's burning.
- Nope, it's not. And even if it were, I don't care. I prefer to keep my water.
- you know, a fire is dangerous. It could do a lot of harm.
- will you shut up with your fire, you left-wing nitwick. You just want my water, right ?
- But the town is going to burn down. Hell, the *whole world* is going up in flames ! The entire galaxy is going to go up in smoke ! The universe will soon collapse into a black hole because of the fire! Think of your kids, they won't like it inside that black hole!
- stop it, silly !

:smile:

I don't agree it is a lost cause. Some people seem determined to remain ignorant on various issues. Some people are open to being informed.

In the pursuit of good vibes and happiness, sometimes ignorance is a bliss !

Finally, I think scientists are people are involved in more than only science. There's nothing wrong or inconsistent with a scientist also being a passionate advocate of some social cause. It might even be something which isn't "important" to other people; a good example would be scientists who become passionate about conservation of some ecosystem or species which doesn't actually have any economic or social impact; but which the scientist values and wants to preserve for its own sake. There's nothing wrong or inconsistent with being both a scientist and an activist.

Sure, but it is important to make the distinction. A person can be both a scientist and an activist. But when he's an activist, he's not "representing science" and his discourse is not to be taken as "the position of science".
 
  • #73
vanesch said:
Sure, but it is important to make the distinction. A person can be both a scientist and an activist. But when he's an activist, he's not "representing science" and his discourse is not to be taken as "the position of science".

Of course. Science can give information on the consequences of choices. Valuing one consequence over another and acting consistently with that evaluation is beyond science. Science informs choices; making the choices is policy/ethics/aesthetics/appetite/etc.

Cheers -- sylas
 
  • #74
vanesch said:
I think the main difference in opinion we have here (and I agree it is drifting away from the topic of this thread, my fault mainly, but I think it is worth having this discussion nevertheless), is that there are people who tend to think that science "has something to sell to the public", while I don't think so.

Well, I share some of the blame for the derail, but it certainly has been an interesting discussion anyway.

There's something to say for. So scientists should have people pay attention to their science, and scientists should tell people that their science is important to people, ultimately in order to get funding. I grant you that. So all this "advertising" is in essence meant to get a certain domain of science funded.

I guess that's one way to look at it that we can agree on, so I'll take that as common ground and maybe call it quits pretty soon, as I'm running out of argumentative energy. The way I would phrase it is that if my tax dollars are paying for something, then I expect it to do more than discuss a bunch of ideas internally for the sole purpose of having a bunch of scientists enjoy the beauty of things that only they are aware of. I want a product, such as something that I can have some contact with. That seems equivalent to your position that you should advertise your work somewhat to get funding, albeit seen from the other side of the divide.

But that's the point. There's no product to sell. The "product" of science are journals and books, essentially for other scientists. Of course, because science is funded by the public, scientists should do some effort to explain to that interested part of public what their stuff is about.

I wish it would be willing to do a better job of that than it is doing now. All I see are token attempts to explain a few things at a superficial level, and for everything else, understanding is made deliberately difficult. "If you want to understand it, then you should be willing to fight for that understanding." Well, we're paying for it, so you'd think they could hire a few folks to try and bring more of the interesting stuff down to the public's level. It's not impossible, though it does take some effort and ingenuity, especially for complicated things. I end up having to explain a lot of things that it seems like more scientists should be willing to try and explain themselves. I'm not qualified. I know a scientist could do a better job than I do if they sat down and tried. And I disagree that the journals are the end product of science. Again, if they are, it's hard to see why the public would be wanting to fund it, unless they've been misled somehow.

Ah, so you mean there's actually no problem in trying to "panic people" because hey, they will forget anyway if you were wrong and others do it too ?

"Panic", no, but "appropriately concern", yes. When I think "panic", I think rioting in the streets. You probably shouldn't try to get people that upset. But if you replace the word "panic" with "concern", then I agree with that statement.

It is their problem, it is society's problem, but it is not science's problem I'd say.

To me, science is a piece of society. Its purpose should be to provide some value to society. For what it's worth, if you aren't taking any money from public sources, then I could understand and agree with you if you don't communicate with the public (aside from at least pointing out serious problems, as you suggest, and then letting the authorities deal with it (or not) from there). That's what private R&D firms do, and I'm not complaining about them.

Far most mathematics research never gets out either. There's a lot of science that never gets out of the "ivory tower" or only to that small fraction of population that is interested in it. The bulk of the public doesn't see a promille of what science is about.

And I think that's an awful waste of a great deal of human effort.
 

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