The State Is Not Doing enough to Understand the Risks of Climate Change

Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentiment

Here’s a headline from a Los Angeles Times story: “Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to rewrite California history.” It says Brown’s plan to “rewrite California history” could be the first step toward rewriting history itself.

The state has two separate historical narratives — one of human triumph over Nature and one of missteps — and it’s time to start rethinking them.

The news story goes on to quote Brown’s top economic adviser, Mark Baldassare, who says the governor’s rewriting of California history could be the first step toward rewriting California — or, as Brown put it, “an unprecedented revolution that changes the very fabric of history.”

This rethinking wouldn’t be about rewriting the history of an individual. It would be about rewriting history itself. To do this, it would need to be about the whole state and its relationship with Nature.

A first step: the state is not doing enough to understand the real risks from climate change.

To understand what the risks of climate change are, you have to first understand the limits of science. The limits of science are a product of two factors.

One: the scientific discipline itself. Science is supposed to be free of bias; it’s supposed to be impartial. Science is supposed to reflect the truth.

The other factor is the scientific profession itself.

Here’s what happens when you subject science to bias: Scientists start paying attention. They start looking very carefully. They start asking questions they didn’t ask before and looking for answers they didn’t look for before. They start looking for the most extreme cases.

They start learning from the findings of their predecessors. They start seeing patterns in the data.

Over the past couple of decades, science has become more and more politicized. A lot of evidence shows that scientists in the field of climate change are not nearly as impartial as they should

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