Britain’s Royal Society, the UK’s preeminent scientific body, has joined national science bodies in India and France in validating the views of global warming sceptics.
The Royal Society’s decision, which follows a revolt by 43 Fellows of the Royal Society, will see it rewrite its position on climate change in a tacit admission that it and in particular its previous president, Lord May, had been acting more as lobbyists for a cause than as agents for scientific reason. Without canvassing his membership, May had famously stated that “The debate on climate change is over” and that “On one hand, you have the entire scientific community and on the other you have a handful of people, half of them crackpots.”
Following the revolt over the society’s recent history of alarmism and hyperbole, the current president, Lord Rees, by no means a sceptic, has nevertheless decided to take a more balanced view: “Climate change is a hugely important issue but the public debate has all too often been clouded by exaggeration and misleading information,” he said. “We aim to provide the public with a clear indication of what is known about the climate system, what we think we know about it and, just as importantly, the aspects we still do not understand very well.”
The Royal Society review of its position, expected this summer, comes at the same time that France’s National Academy of Sciences has asserted that it has taken no position on climate science, that it respects the views of both camps, and that, in the interests of furthering understanding, it will sponsor a high-profile debate this fall. This decision by the National Academy of Sciences has distressed the country�s manmade global warming camp, which had lobbied the Academy and the French government to denounce and even expel the sceptics.