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An honest alarmist

[Note added on 2010-03-09: The connotation of the English word "alarmist" seems to be always bad, so I reconsider how to call the concept mentioned as the title of this page. I have not yet determined it yet. A candidate is "a precautioner".]

I come up with a new role model in communication about environmental issues. That is "an honest alarmist". It may sound like a parody of "an honest broker" (Pielke, 2007). But this is not a joke.

The society needs such persons that are described as honest brokers by Pielke: those who provide multiple options with scientific assessments to policymakers.

I think, however, that the society also needs such persons that point to the dangerous end of the likely outcome. But I would like to ask them for some more efforts. They must have estimates of the probability of the affairs (even though it is usually just subjective) ready to be communicated, and the value should not be negligibly small. For example, a journalist may communicate the summary of IPCC AR4 as "the warming may be 6.4 deg. C in 2100" (if the space is very short), but he/she should add an "honest alarmist" flag.

There should be the counterpart. He/she may communicate IPCC AR4 as "the warming may be as small as 1.1 deg. C in 2100" with an appropriate flag. I would like to call him/her "an honest easygoer". (I feel that "a skeptic" and "a denier" are not appropriate in this context.)

If you want to parrot Hansen (2009), I recommend you to raise a "honest alarmist" flag. If you want to parrot Lomborg (2007), I recommend you to raise a "honest easygoer" flag.

This piece of my idea is inspired by Schneider (2009) and Stehr and von Storch (2009) combined.

[An earlier version of this text appeared as a comment (2010-01-30) to Werner Krauss's article (2010-01-25) in the blog Klimazwiebel.]


  • James Hansen, 2009: Storms of Grandchildren. Bloomsbury.
  • Bjorn Lomborg, 2007: Cool It. Knopf.
  • Roger A. Pielke Jr., 2007: An Honest Broker. Cambridge University Press.
  • Stephen Schneider, 2009: Science as a Contact Sport. National Geographic.
  • Nico Stehr and Hans von Storch, 2009: Climate and Society. World Scientific.