Stanford biologist Stephen Schneider, one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, wants to help the American public put the science on climate change into a context they can understand.
He spoke Thursday night to several hundred members of the American Society of Environmental Historians at the Basque Center in Boise, appealing to them and anyone to help make the complex subject easier to fit into their own personal decisionmaking.
He comes at it like a legal case. Is the jury still out on climate change?
Look at it like a criminal case. The jury must weigh the evidence and decide a person’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. What does that mean? Schneider asks rhetorically. There is no number that can be put to reasonable doubt.
The more than 2000 scientists who wrote the IPCC report said it is very likely climate change is changing the planet, driven by human activity, and they put a number to their balance of uncertainty, 90 percent certain.
If we were talking about a civil case, Schneider said, the jury only must decide that there is preponderance of evidence supporting one side or the other – 50 percent.
His point is that part of the debate should end. The debate should shift to how to manage the risks to people and society from climate change and how to both figure out how much needs to be done and then how to figure out how to share the burden equitably.