Scientific Certainty

Scientific Certainty

The role of science is to create a hypothesis and then test whether or not the hypothesis is likely true or not.  As scientists work to understand the world through their hypotheses, they determine areas of “uncertainty” and work to reduce them through further data collection, modeling or analysis.  For instance, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), because of the complexity of understanding the earth’s climate, has relied on multiple groups of scientists with different methodologies and approaches to understanding climate to make future projections.  Over time the projections provided by these various scientific communities are increasingly constant in their outputs despite their varied approaches.  This is known as “reducing uncertainty.”

While there remain, and always will, several sources of uncertainty in climate models the IPCC in particular has created robust and scientifically rigorous methods for developing their climate scenarios.  It is important for citizens and decision-makers using information and statistics that inform their decision-making to understand the rigor with which findings have been made.  For instance, journal articles often undergo an independent review that can help weed out poorly constructed research.  Fact sheets and other non-reviewed materials can be less reliable if sources for the information are not provided.

Over time SC2 hopes to build a website where people can readily find scientific information about climate and potential climate impacts in the Skagit basin and read the original research if they wish to.