In reference to Valerie Jones’ plea for common sense regarding climate change (Letters to the Editor, 20 February 2020).

Amongst many other things, it is useful for children to learn about the 3Rs while at school.

A natural progression of the 3Rs is the role of science as it helps society understand complex issues, such as climate change.

It is well established within the scientific community that human activity in accelerating climate change.

This conclusion is drawn from scientists working across the world who have collectively examined countless data on a wide variety of effects we are seeing in the natural world.

As a parent I am supportive of children being taught scientific facts that are derived of scientific evidence.

Unfortunately, common sense does not work out scientific theories.

Scientific theories are established by the scientific method of establishing a hypothesis, testing of that hypothesis using robust and repeatable observations and experiments, and confirmation (or not) of the hypothesis.

Test by test, study by study, review by review, meta analysis by meta analysis, the cumulative knowledge of scientists draws multiple lines of evidence together to build scientific consensus that is the basis of scientific theories and facts.

Alongside this, scientists from an array of disciplines will drill into the detail, evaluating uncertainties in data which are progressively investigated and quantified.

Ms Jones is right to say that the climate has always changed. However, as is much the case in science, the devil is in the detail, and it is more nuanced than this.

The scientific consensus is that human activity is accelerating climate change.

The body of evidence supporting this theory is vast, such as the weighty tomes presented by the United Nations’ IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) who have been collating and analysing climate science data since 1988.

However, I would be content to settle two scores on common sense.

The first is that how we tackle the challenge of climate change should be driven by society’s priorities: the recent citizen’s assembly held by Government is a useful start but much broader engagement with the public is needed.

Cue: Government.

Second, if I were asked whether I’d choose to avert a hazardous event that has a reasonable chance of happening to my family or community, I’d choose to do my best to prevent it happening in the first place.

I agree with Ms Jones that we should not be unnecessarily worrying children, because there are solutions within our reach that could be delivered by society’s highly capable engineers and scientists.

We just need the right leadership to make it happen (also, cue Government).

Melinda Evans