Royal Society to publish new guide to the science of climate change

28 May 2010

The Royal Society is to publish a new guide to the science of climate change to help the public gain a better understanding of the issue.  The guide is due to be published this summer.

Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society said:”Climate change is a hugely important issue but the public debate has all too often been clouded by exaggeration and misleading information.  We aim to provide the public with a clear indication of what is known about the climate system, what we think we know about it and, just as importantly, the aspects we still do not understand very well.”

The document will be prepared by experts from within the Fellowship and, as with all policy statements and reports published by the society, will be subject to review by other Fellows with a broad range of views and expertise.  The final document will be agreed by the Council of the Society.

Martin Rees added:”It is three years since the Society published a document specifically designed to help the general public get a full understanding of climate change.  Nothing in recent developments has changed or weakened the underpinning science of climate change.  In the current environment we believe this new guide will be very timely.  Lots of people are asking questions, indeed even within the Fellowship of the Society there are differing views.  Our guide will be based on expert views backed up by sound scientific evidence.”

He continued:”It has been suggested that the Society holds the view that anyone challenging the consensus on climate change is malicious – this is ridiculous.  Science is organised scepticism and the consensus must shift in light of the evidence.  The Society has always encouraged debate particularly through our discussion meetings and our journals. The Society has held two recent discussion meetings relevant to this area.  One on Greenhouse gases in the earth system: setting the agenda for 2030 and one on Handling uncertainty in science. The debate must be open and it must also be based on sound science rather than dogma.”

The new guide has been planned for some time but was given added impetus by concerns raised by a small group of Fellows of the Society that older documents designed to challenge some of the common misrepresentations of the science were too narrow in their focus.