THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
WHY KEEP OUR COOL OVER CLIMATE CHANGE?

Sober appraisals of risk are ignored in critique of hyperbole

June 5, 2011

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JEFF JACOBY offers us a false choice between panic and the denial of risk (“Cooler heads prevail against climate panic,’’ Op-ed, June 1). He begins with a weak but grotesque attempt to link those who take climate risk seriously with street-corner charlatans heralding imminent apocalypse. Even more bizarrely, he ridicules Al Gore for warning of imminent disaster, right in the wake of an appalling run of weather disasters.

Ignoring sober appraisals of risk, such as that just released by the National Academy of Sciences, Jacoby zeroes in on Newsweek’s hyperventilating rhetoric. Why not go after the National Enquirer?

Then we are treated to yet another round of the “climate is always changing,’’ rather like a murder defendant telling the jury that people are always dying.

Assessing and dealing with climate risk in an environment of highly uncertain science and expensive options is challenging enough without having to entertain the flippancy of your columnist. There is no scientific basis for his certainty that we have nothing to worry about.

Kerry Emanuel
Director
Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge