The question of what to call those who repeatedly express doubt about the broad scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet is more timely than ever. The top echelons of the federal government are now filled with such individuals since the election of Donald Trump, who himself has dismissed climate change as a hoax concocted by China.
For Katharine Hayhoe, a prominent Texas Tech University professor and director of the school’s Climate Science Center, the label “skeptic” should be reserved for those truly interested in testing and retesting hypotheses in order to find the truth behind phenomena. In short, the true skeptics are the scientists themselves.
“We demand evidence, we kick the tires,” Hayhoe explained to me later over the phone. “The entire system of peer review is based on you making the best argument for the result that you’ve found, and then multiple colleagues who are not involved in your research then tear it apart and try to find all the holes possible.”
In her experience as a public figure exchanging emails and tweets with critics of climate science, many (though not all) of them are not motivated by a desire to find new evidence, she said. “Every single day I get someone on Twitter saying, nobody’s ever been able to show me a single study that links carbon dioxide with climate change,” she said. “I’m like, oh well, here’s an entire book.”
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