The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published last autumn contains the earnestly considered and peer-reviewed opinion of the world’s leading climate scientists that there is a 95% probability that human activity is affecting the climate.
According to research posted on quora.com Out of 617 members of Parliament:
27 have science and technology degrees
15 environment studies and geography
12 engineering and architecture
10 medicine and allied subjects
So a grand total of 64 MPs (10.3%) have degrees in subjects that that can, stretching the point a bit, be defined as “Science”. There is one sole Member of Parliament (Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge) who has practised science past PhD level (he was a research biochemist).
So why is it that MPs such as Peter Lilley, Christopher Chope, Andrew Tyrie, John Redwood and David Davis along with former Thatcher Chancellor Nigel Lawson and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson feel they can present the whole climate change debate as being a finely balanced one in which the sceptical view deserves as much credence as any other?
If Education Secretary Michael Gove is so keen on restoring rigour and factual learning in schools, perhaps he should start with his Parliamentary colleagues.
He could do worse than setting them homework that includes enrolling on a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) such as the Future Learn course run by the University of Exeter on “Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions” that I am currently studying. The current course has closed to new entrants but I am sure they will run it again if Mr Gove asks them to. It only takes a few hours a week, there are no entry requirements and the course explains the fundamental science behind planetary systems and how human activity is affecting them.
Of course, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. But profound ignorance among those responsible for making policy on these issues is potentially lethal. For all of us.