From Deb Newell 12 October 2019
You should feel very proud of yourself. Your crusade against Climate Warming has taken you into the homes and schools of the world and to the United Nations. At sixteen years of age this is a huge achievement. I know that you are very, very worried about the current dynamics of what is a dynamic system. Climate by deﬁnition is variable from one day to the next, one month/one season/one year/one decade/one millennia/one geological time frame…to the next. We now stand upon the shoulders of instruments that measure the temperature of the atmosphere, the oceans, the soils and deep into Earth’s crust to assess tiny changes in heat in a multitude of sites across this planet. This capacity is very new, about 200 years of instrument design and ongoing adaptations allow us to do this on a regular basis so when we read about the ‘hottest ever’ we must understand that ‘ever’ refers to about 200 years of readings from instruments of varying speciﬁcity and accuracy. To collate this data we use techniques like homogenisation before feeding such modiﬁed data into the analytic phenomenon of the twentieth century – computer software. This is new knowledge that can be mishandled.
At your age I loved science. Most of my family are in one ﬁeld or another of science, so I was always encouraged to never accept what I was being told was ‘the truth’ as this is a dynamic (just like the climate) coloured by perspective. Back then there was an American scientist who reached pop-star fame, travelling the world to talk Science to theatres full of students. His name was Professor Sumner Miller, and his message of intellectual enquiry was to constantly ask the question ‘Why is this so?’ For your own integrity now and into the future, please start asking ‘why is it so?’ to understand the complex systems that run the climate. This capacity for critical analysis is what deﬁnes humans. Many, overwhelmed by information, accept what they are told as it is easier. Religions don’t take kindly to questioning, nor do fairy tales or prejudices, but science depends upon the power of scepticism, the power of proof by enquiry. Don’t follow the easier path of acceptance. Ask hard questions of the science and scientists that have captured the attention of the world, many scientiﬁc institutions and many scientiﬁc publications to conﬁrm your own intellectual dignity.