Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, July 22, 2003
LAST FRIDAY (yes, ABCWatch is keeping up as usual) Radio National Breakfast had an interview with scary climate man Stephen Schneider, who is here for a week to promote something or other. Might even be a book.

By the way, why does Auntie keep giving her US stroke-pals the following introduction: an advisor to former US administrations. She's old enough to know that half the US population have been advisers to former, or current US administrations, and most of them were ignored or are currently being ignored.

One of ABCWatch's most industrious readers, Jim T, recalls Schneider saying, in the October 1989 issue of Discover magazine:

"To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective,
and being honest."

Set it to music and you have the communards' anthem.

This seems to be the full score:

"On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but - which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."

No doubt it has made him famous. Good enough for Radio National.