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The G20, human health and sustainability: an interview with Jeffrey D Sachs

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To the Editor: Pitney has strongly rebutted the views of Sachs (on development) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (on climate science).1

While we agree that free speech is vital, we also assert that science, however flawed, is preferable to dogma and opinion, whether held and expressed by followers of Galen, any religion, or a master under whose tutelage someone studied long ago.

Medical science has seen anaesthesia trump physical restraint, hygiene defeat puerperal fever, and the smallpox virus isolated in secure laboratories. We consider that we have an obligation to regard the findings of climate scientists as serious and credible, just as, a priori, we should not dismiss (especially without deep knowledge) the central findings of any sphere of science, medical or otherwise. We accept the principal findings of climate science. While Pitney may have knowledge of the field, his conclusions do not appear to be based on published scientific literature, which is clear.2

We feel that it would be impossible to overturn a field that has a well established body of scientific evidence. Our ethical duty, based on our knowledge, is to consider the health implications of climate change, on the assumption that climate scientists are broadly correct.3 Were we agnostic or sceptical…