In need of cold truth

February 10, 2006

In a week when the science of climate change (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' publication Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change ) and its fictional counterpart (the ITV1 drama series Eleventh Hour screened a global-warming thriller) got extensive media airtime, it was timely for The Times Higher to run a profile of James Lovelock and his own peculiar science fiction take on climate change ("Outlook bleak for scum of the Earth", February 3).

These various strands of the climate change story - science, fiction and science fiction - now routinely intertwine in our cultural spaces and it becomes increasingly hard to identify science's unique and legitimate voice in public debate.

Lovelock's intervention compounds the problem. Advocacy, opinion, even metaphor, are quite appropriate and necessary in such public debate, but let them not masquerade as science.

Mike Hulme

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

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