on trust and evidence in the climate dispute

This paragraph from A Chemist in Langely gets at a very important issue in the dispute over policy driven by climate issues:

So once again it comes down to communication. The groups have to step out of their comfort zones and start re-learning how to communicate with each other. Warmists have to emerge from their back rooms and acknowledge publicly what they have been acknowledging privately all along. That these predictions represent just that: predictions. The best predictions possible given the limitations of the system and tools available, but not the certain outcomes suggested by many. They have to make a case why in a world with finite resources, that substantial resources should be allocated to prevent low-probability, high-cost outcomes. Sceptics on the other hand have to trust that fairly reasonable predictions can be made of a complex and chaotic system. They have to listen to the case made by the warmists and maybe even give them the benefit of the doubt. Having read the comments at a number of blogs, that last part may well be the hardest but it is necessary if we are going to re-establish a reasonable dialogue and seek to address this impasse. [emphasis added] h/t WUWT

Communication is the first item, and that doesn’t mean repeating pronouncements, it means engaging the claims, grounds, and warrants of those who don’t accept one’s own conclusions.

I’ve bolded the feature of the dispute that makes it particularly intractable; the societal disruptions implied by the policy proposals of the alarmist wing of the warming camp are enormous and will lead to a lot of difficult daily choices in many parts of the world. Given the apparently low-probability that the alarming predictions are correct, convincing billions of people to pay the cost is unlikely.

I think the writer is correct that the part about giving the warmists the benefit of the doubt will be the hardest part. The last 15 years have seen significant violations of trust. Since the answer to the inevitable question “Qui bono?” is so often “Those advancing the warmist case,” re-building the trust necessary for the benefit of the doubt will be very difficult.

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