The Royal Society has published a short but comprehensive guide to the science of climate change to enable the general public get a simplified view of the core issues related to climate change.
The document called the Climate Change: A Summary of the Science divides the existing knowledge on climate change into three categories: the issues on which the scientists have a broad agreement, the issues on which the research is going on and the issues which are not understood well.
While the Society has in the past included policy recommendations in its climate change-related publications but this time it has limited itself to the physical science of climate change. Royal Society's Vice President and one of the authors of the report said that their intent was to stick to the science only since even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has become cautious following the 'Climategate' fiasco.
The timing of this document could not have been better. The COP 16 talks, to be held at Cancun, Mexico later this year continues to carry the burden of the failed Copenhagen summit. Recent polls conducted in the UK and United States show slight decrease in people who believe that global warming is actually taken place.
Lack of access to the latest knowledge about climate change research is one of the primary reason for the constant doubt and misinformation in the minds of common people. The people and organizations which are against a global effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change take advantage of this lack of information. This report from the Royal Society attempts to clear the clouds of misinformation and give the general public a definite and established base of climate change-related knowledge. (Read about the challenges of climate change journalism)
The recent UN climate talks at Tainjin failed to provide any hopes for an international agreement on cutting carbon emissions and there are fears that the Cancun summit too would fail to undo the failure of COP 15. With the leaders from all around the world failing to act swiftly in the larger interest of the human race, such a report would certainly increase the public's power to influence the decision making.
The UNFCCC Executive Secretary Cristiana Figueres also mentioned the importance of citizens' movements backed by NGOs such as 350.org and tcktcktck.org. She said that deadlock among the developed and developing countries can be broken if the common people participate more aggressively in decision making process. Common people armed with the right scientific knowledge would certainly exert pressure on their respective governments to take action on climate change.
The report can also serve as a foundation of climate change science being taught in schools around the world. Debates have been raging in several US states over what to teach with regard to climate change. This report keeps aside all the contentious issues and without any bias presents only the scientific facts related to climate change.
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.