Only a few weeks ago, we had the 'public trust' debate here on klimazwiebel.Today, spiegel-online posts a remake of the New York Times article by Jon Krosnick from Stanford university from June 8th about a new opinion poll on climate after climategate. According to this survey, 'the public' is far from having lost trust in climate science. Krosnick includes in the presentation of his results a severe critic of the previous surveys (which had stated a dramatic loss of trust in climate science after climategate etc). However, instead of going into the details of this new survey and its results, I want to discuss the role of these surveys for the self-conception of climate science.
I think it tells a lot about the (lack of) self confidence of a science that its identity relies not on the robustness of its data and the quality of its scientific debates, but ever more on so-called 'political' factors. Just like politicians, (some) climate scientists permanently seem to have an eye on these surveys and make them part of their strategies. 'The public' (which is a pretty imaginary quantity) becomes an integral part of the presentation of scientific results and of science itself. This is true for all sides in this debate, by the way. It is not something imposed on climate science, but it seems to be a part of the very nature of this science itself. Dealing with uncertainties, the harsh conditions of post-normal science etc may be part of the problem. But what does it tell about a science when climate scientists act like politicians in an election campaign, preparing for a final public vote on the reality of climate change? In my opinion, this is not a crisis of the public; instead, this indeed profound 'politicization' is a signal of a deep crisis of climate science itself. The crisis is not out there, in the public - it is inside science.