Jean Jouzel


Climatologist Jean Jouzel offers a cool assessment of climate change’s heated debate

by Marielle Court

Organized right-wing sceptics are fighting bare-knuckled the existence of climate change, and with their own scientific experts, hacked emails at Copenhagen’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting, and allegations against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that it published unsubstantiated data that exaggerated the melting rate of the Himalayan glaciers, what can we expect for the future of the climate debate?

Now that tensions between the global warming believers and naysayers have subsided a bit, what are your views on the controversy surrounding climate change?

Even if things appear calm, if the actions of those who don’t believe in global warming are less visible, some people still think it is possible to build strategy while denying the research findings. No, I’m really not sure that the final deniers’ offensive is over. But we in the scientific community simply want to move ahead.

In this trench warfare, did science lose face with the general public?

The idea that scientists do not all agree can result in the population tuning out, imagining that there is no problem. It’s up to scientists to regain public confidence. Our role is to provide arguments that invalidate the arguments of the naysayers. We are doing this point by point.

Has the environment in general and climate change in particular suffered from being a passing fad? 

Perhaps we lowered our guard too much. Not to mention that the opposition has often built a case on arguments devoid of any scientific basis but that have worked with the public. For example, when they say that long-term projections are impossible since we can’t even predict weather beyond a week, or when they point to a cold winter in a country to denounce global warming.


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