In ‘imminent peril’

Interesting that peer-reviewed scientific journals — traditionally bastions of restraint when it comes to language — are legitimising emotive language when it comes to global-warming threats. This is the case with the Royal Society’s article, authored by NASA’s chief scientist and others, saying we’ve eight years to sidestep ‘cataclysm’. I wonder whether such language reflects frustration with the constraints of peer-reviewed journals as vehicles to influence change. I don’t know, but suspect there aren’t currently appropriate institutional mechanisms in place to act and legislate more effectively with reference to what scientists are saying. There are scientists who have grouped together to try to turn up the volume; for example, the well-established Union of Concerned Scientists, with over 200,000 members, brings scientists and citizens together. That said, there seems to be a distinct disconnect between scientists, policymakers and the body politic on an international scale. Some rapidly-developing countries’ insist, for example, economic growth should be privileged over addressing global warming; rather, they should be saying economic growth should occur by addressing global warming. Someone should tell them.

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