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What can science tell us, or not tell us, about climate change?

7:00pm, Wednesday 20 June 2007, Contact for more information.

Climate change has become an obsession across society, and is held to present the most catastrophic and overarching threat of environmental meltdown. No area of life now escapes scrutiny of its carbon footprint.

Climate change has also become a flashpoint for controversy over science. Sceptics are accused of denying the objective facts; environmentalists are accused of abandoning the scientific method in favour of spin and propaganda.

We will discuss what science can and cannot tell us about climate change:

- Are politicians hiding behind science to justify policy? What role should scientific advice play?

- What role does consensus play in science and climate science in particular?

- What role does the IPCC claim to play and how does this work in practice?

- Does climate change set limits to what we should expect from social and economic development?


Joe Kaplinsky is a science writer and postgraduate student at Imperial College, London.

James Woudhuysen is Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester.


Measuring the political temperature, Josie Appleton

Mitigation of Climate Change: Summary for Policymakers, IPCC Working Group III

The other IPCC reports are useful background reading:

Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Summary for Policymakers, Working Group II

The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers, Working Group I

The full Working Group I report has been published. The introductory chapter is a useful overview for those interested in looking at the science:

Chapter I: Historical Overview of Climate Change Science

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