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Tamsin Edwards: Scientific Community is Beginning To Listen To Lukewarmers

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Tamsin Edwards, The Observer

Unless you’re knee deep in the mud of the climate debate, as I am, you might not know that so-called “climate denial” is actually not that common in the UK.

Not that I call people deniers anyway: it antagonises, partly because it is thrown around indiscriminately. There are still people who are unconvinced that carbon dioxide has any greenhouse warming effect, particularly in the US and Australia. But by far the most common kind of non-mainstream, contrarian view I see in the UK – particularly in politicians, journalists and bloggers – is the self-described “lukewarmer”.

Lukewarmers have much more mainstream views than the easy stereotype of the denier. They agree carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, that the world is warming, and that a significant fraction of this is down to humans. In terms of policy, they typically support adaptation to climate change. But they differ from mainstream views because they’re not convinced there’s a substantial risk that future warming could be large or its impacts severe, or that strong mitigation policies are desirable.

With such a broad definition, lukewarmers range from public commentators such as Matt Ridley to scientists such as Nic Lewis, an independent researcher who engages in climate work. But, perhaps surprisingly in this charged debate where to question scientific evidence on global warming sees you branded idiotic, nefarious, or both, the scientific community is listening to lukewarmers.

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