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Posted Thu Jun 25 2009: from Irish Times:
Political paralysis as clock ticks on climate change
... And that's why we have scientists. Their job is to collate and then make sense of the physical data gleaned from close observation of the world around them. They are by training a cautious, sceptical, even prickly bunch with a notoriously low tolerance for fools. As Thomas Huxley memorably put it: "The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." Which is why the findings of a poll of scientists attending a climate conference in Denmark in March were so alarming. About 60 per cent of respondents said that yes, in theory it was still possible to prevent global average temperature rises exceeding 2 degrees C -- the accepted point beyond which runaway climate chaos awaits. There is however a yawning chasm between scientific necessity and what is politically acceptable. Some 86 per cent believed the 2-degree threshold will in fact be crossed. Most reckoned an apocalyptic 4-5 degrees this century is on the cards. In other words, they believe humanity can still save itself, but will choose not to. Scientists are not themselves robots. As one respondent commented: "My optimism is not primarily due to scientific facts, but to hope." Another explained: "As a mother of young children, I choose to believe there's a chance, and work hard towards it."
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