Climate Change Skepticism: A Virtue or Vice?

William O’Keefe’s Remarks before the Johns Hopkins Transatlantic Dialogue on Climate Change on September 24, 2003.

I have been dealing with the climate change issue since 1992 when I was with the American Petroleum Institute. Obviously, I have a point of view. But, my approach to this or any other problem is based on the belief that problems should be subjected to open-minded, rigorous and hard-headed analysis. I believe this has been missing in the climate debate. There has been too much posturing, too much rhetoric, too vitriol and too little working the problem.

Anyone who has followed this issue has heard a lot about so-called “skeptics”.  They are usually described is disparaging terms, as you would the last members of the flat earth society.

I am a skeptic and I welcome the opportunity to explain why. I do not expect that you will accept my perspective, although that would be rewarding. My objective is more modest. I want you to take a hard look at the facts, at the logic behind the different perspectives and to be, at least, a little more skeptical about conclusions that are offered with great certitude. If you do that, I believe that you will conclude that this issue is not a closed book, that healthy skepticism is a virtue, not a vice and that excessive politicization of this issue is counterproductive.

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