Stepping Back; Moving Forward

Science  07 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5979, pp. 667
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190790

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The controversial e-mails related to climate change, plus reported errors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, have spurred a dangerous deterioration in the rational relation between science and society. One U.S. senator has called 17 prominent climate scientists criminals, and pundits have suggested that climate scientists should commit suicide. Fourteen U.S. states have filed lawsuits opposing the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, some asserting that “climate change science is a conspiracy.” South Dakota even resolved that there are other “astrological” forcings on climate. Scientists have been barraged by hateful e-mails. The debate has become polarized, and the distrust of scientists and their findings extends well beyond climate science. What can be done to repair society's trust in science? A broader perspective is needed on all sides.