Risk and Uncertainty – When Optimism and Pessimism Clash

A fascinating opinion article has just been published.  In this article, the author identifies that people undermine solid positions by overinflating them.  In the case of climate science, drift into “apocalyptic language” has been noted by even the likes of Eric Holthaus.

Climate scientists undermine their own science by avoiding the best case scenario

This is something seen frequently.  Why do people hate lawyers?  Because lawyers are viewed as liking to make mountains out of molehills.  A person has been in a minor car accident and the lawyer will argue for some huge award on the basis of lifelong injuries.  In this, a simple issue becomes complicated.  $500 in medical bills and $3k in damage to the car would be easily settled for $7,500.  But the lawyer – and the plaintiff – will make it much bigger than that and demand $50,000.00 for it.  A couple of years later, the thing settles for $10,000.00, and everyone walks away embittered.

Why does it settle at that point?  Because the risk now becomes apparent.  As time goes on, it is realized more and more that the case is a $7,500 case.  Could be lucky and get $15,000.  Could be unlucky and get $3,500.  $10,000 is a number between.  But in the meantime, the plaintiff is angry.  The defendant is angry.  What was supposed to happen didn’t happen.

Such is going on in the realm of climate science.  There is a great case for 1 degree by 2100.  There is a good case for 2 degrees.  The case gets weaker and weaker the further it is reached.

Get serious from the start.  Find a middle ground from the start.  It doesn’t cause attention.  It doesn’t cause alarm. It just causes respect and trust.


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