In her interview, Gina McCarthy offers a refreshing perspective on the balance between truth and action in solving societal challenges, such as climate change. She states that it is not ideal if the public mistakenly attributes extreme weather events solely to climate change, even if this viewpoint galvanizes them to action to prevent climate change. It is important that the public understands the science and statistics of climate change, for example, the fact that the extreme weather events become more common rather than they cannot occur in the absence of climate change. This would reduce oversimplified alarmist views of worst case scenarios and deter politicians from misconstruing scientific reports to their own agenda. Moreover, a better public understanding of statistics and science would foster a greater trust and appreciation by politicians for scientific accuracy in policy determination, leading to more rational decision making.
top of page
bottom of page
Vincent, I thought that your post was really interesting, and I love how you simplified a major viewpoint from Gina McCarthy. However, I did have one question after reading your comment. How do you think that the public could become more educated on the statistics and science of climate change? It seems like this is a very challenging task due to the poor education system in the US. I know that, in the United States, only about 1/3 of individuals have a college degree, which is one (of many) examples that might make educating individuals on climate change difficult. How do you think that we can avoid this obstacle and educate Americans (and those around the world) about climate change?
Vincent, I think your discussion of McCarthy's argument for truth vs. action in climate science is compelling—I would generally agree with McCarthy's message. However, I think this discussion can be furthered by considering the potential philosophical frameworks of either side of the debate. McCarthy seems to make a utilitarian plea for truth—she argues that the consequences of telling the truth are far outweighed by the long term benefits to society's understanding and appreciation for statistics and science. Her side of the debate could also benefit from a deontological perspective: as autonomous human beings, we deserve to know the truth and act for ourselves regardless of the consequences. On the flip side, important utilitarian arguments can be made for hiding the truth. Because humans are subject to many cognitive biases, appealing to fear of extreme disasters may be the only way to spur action. If that is the case, would McCarthy support hiding or distorting the truth?