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How sure are climate scientists?

Posted on 11 May 2021 by BaerbelW

We were recently made aware of a new video created by Neil Halloran called "Degrees of Uncertainty" which is an animated documentary about climate science, uncertainty, and knowing when to trust the experts. Watch it on YouTube (24 minutes):

Neil credits several climate scientists at the end of his video and one of them, Zeke Hausfather, had this to say about the video on Twitter (click for larger version):


Degrees of Uncertainty features four moments of interactivity that are only available when viewing the film on Neil's homepage. When the option is presented, simply pause the video to activate an "interactive mode" featuring clickable content:


Click on the image to access the video on Neil Halloran's homepage.

 Well worth watching and sharing as far as we are concerned!

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Comments 1 to 6:

  1. The movie does have some good features like that graphical time line. It talked a lot about uncertainty in science, and quoted some big medical science mistakes, and although it tried to explain why climate science is different, it did this rather weakly for me. It could leave a lot of people feeling "uncertain" about climate science and whether action is required. It seems like a gift to the denialists.

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  2. Thanks for this! I will absolutely share it and even include it as a reference in my projects! Brilliantly done!

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  3. It's worth noting that uncertainty cuts both ways, and I hope his next video, on renewables, does this.  Renewable power plants are temporary structures, while emissions from fossil fuel power plants are essentially permanent.  The former thus comes with much less risk than the latter: you can take down a wind turbine, you can't take down an excess of carbon dioxide.  Thus, the uncertainty about our climate future, so often used against climate action, actually favors renewable energy, and disfavors the fossil status quo.

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  4. Nigel @1: There is no doubt that denialists will misconstrue what is in that video ... surprised? Since when do we care about their BS? they will do so anyway, regardless of what we say or what the video contains.

    Instead, it is the broad middle, the cautious, disengaged, and doubtful we need to reach, and for them, the video will be helpful.

    I do not agree with everything in it either, but I think it is one of the best outreach videos I have ever seen.

    There is one important point in there, that requires repeating. In his nice (book form) summary from 2015, Andrew Hoffman calls it the need to "address the process by which the message was created". Aka, don't just endorse expertise (miscontrued as "authority"), endorse the scientific process through which we arrived at the "message" (here: we need to address climate change by eliminating GHG emissions).

    SkS does this. So SkS shares this video. Thank you!

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  5. gws @4, maybe I wasn't clear or something, but I think its the broad middle that are the exact people that may become sceptical after watching the video. For the reasons I stated. Not suggesting uncertainty in science should never be dicussed but it needs great care how its discussed.

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  6. Nigelj @5  :

    On balance, I would go with Gws@4 about this video.

    The video is more introductory than definitive, and IMO it has a suitably delicate touch.   It is not talking to the scientifically well-informed, nor is it for the intransigent denialists.   Rather it seems aimed at the middle ground, where many people are hesitant/doubtful about global warming consequences ~ maybe they're slightly irritated by the ongoing bombardment with pro/con messages in the media, or maybe they've been mentally pushing the climate problem into the too-hard-for-now basket.

    Perhaps this video is capable of "softening-up" the mental defenses of those who are un-engaged (but are not in denial).

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