Climate debate heats up

28th October 2011 at 01:00

Richard Milne's reply to my letter of 9 September amounts to little more than a cheap attempt to undermine me academically and professionally ("Heated reaction over climate", 14 October). He completely missed my point.

I checked many papers and carefully chose those I cited precisely because they were current and written by prominent "alarmists". The Kaufmann paper was quoted directly (the first two sentences to be precise), since the point of the paper was to reconcile anthropogenic climate change with the observed temperature. I wonder just how closely Dr Milne inspected the papers.

President Eisenhower warned that "in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite". In the case of climate change, it appears that we may be already there. Does Dr Milne really think we should just take his word for it?

Teaching using socio-scientific discussion demands that teachers openly present all of the available evidence pertinent to an issue, from all perspectives objectively. The teacher's skill lies in challenging pupils' thinking in a supportive yet robust manner, regardless of their own views.

Judging by Dr Milne's letter, he appears to be less than open-minded or objective in this debate. Is his mind closed to the possibility that there might be opposing views that are scientifically valid? His strong assertion denies my right to disagree with him.

Some climate change alarmists have been accused of replacing the objectivity of science with the certainty of their belief in anthropogenic climate change to the point of quasi-religion. The evidence is not as unequivocal as he claims. If it was, why then did Ivar Giaever, the 1973 Physics Nobel Laureate, resign from the American Physical Society due to its stance on climate change?

To suggest that disagreement with the scientific consensus is somehow motivated by some political, commercial or malicious intent displays the hallmarks of pseudo-religious delusion. To then suggest that scientists should engage with (preach to) the misinformed citizenry to educate (indoctrinate) them as to the correctness of his view, presumably without objective reference to other perspectives, is potentially arrogant, unscientific, anti-educational and undemocratic, since he seems unable to accept the existence of any evidence that appears to refute his hypothesis.

Finally, I did not attend Dr Milne's presentation because I was developing the minds of my pupils in an open, balanced and unbiased manner with the view that science is objective and evidence-based. After all, that is what I get paid to do.

Stephen Day, biologyscience teacher, Greenfaulds High, North Lanarkshire.

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