KERRY EMANUEL: What would it take to convince skeptics that climate change is a problem?


KERRY EMANUEL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist and author of What We Know About Climate Change

If by “skeptics” one means those who are genuinely skeptical—like most scientists, including me —then almost all of us have already been persuaded by the great preponderance of evidence that we face serious climate risks going forward. But the term “skeptic” has taken on a distinctly Orwellian cast and is now mostly used to describe those who are ideologically predisposed to discount or downplay any notion of climate risk. For such people, objective evidence is largely irrelevant, and ideology will continue to take precedence over evidence in driving their worldview.

As for those citizens (and there are many) who do not regard themselves as “skeptics” but who remain unpersuaded that we face serious risks, I am confident that mounting objective evidence will eventually overwhelm the effects of disinformation and lead them to a rational view of the risks we face. 

Related Interviews

What would it take to solve climate change?

Robert Socolow

Physicist Robert Socolow offers new thoughts on moving from our current climate-changing economy to a more stable future. Read the interview with Robert Socolow


How can we make climate policy in the face of uncertainty?

Scientists and policy makers know all about dealing with uncertainty, says NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt. Read the interview with Gavin Schmidt