SIR - I write in response to (Not so fast on climate emergency, Craven Herald letters, August 29) in which John McKay questions the decision made by Craven District Councillors to declare a Climate Emergency. I agree that it's entirely correct to ask questions about such a momentous decision. I don't agree that it is an irresponsible decision, as implied in Mr McKay's letter.

Mr McKay asks, 'where is the councillors researched evidence for climate change?', while himself offering points of view on random past weather events in order to challenge the councillors' decision. Perhaps a little background on the nature of scientific research and evidence may be relevant to readers.

At school pupils learn that any scientific theory must be tested by rigorous experiment and observation before it can be considered proven. Nothing can be declared as 'proven by theory' as Mr McKay asserts. To observe an effect and then imagine a cause to suit your beliefs and understanding is meaningless, but is what humans did for thousands of years before the development of modern scientific thought, starting with the great ancient civilisations such as The Greeks. Imagine if we still accepted today that the world was flat and the centre of the universe, how different our lives would be? But the vast majority of educated people understand that science and mathematics proves this ancient belief cannot be true.

Qualified scientists, that is to say those with a higher degree such as a PhD in a specialist subject working in recognised research institutes, do not just make things up, such as a theory of climate change, and claim it as proven fact. They conduct exhaustive experiments and observations and then publish the conclusions for comment by other scientists who then study the theory and test it to see if they can replicate the results and agree with the original conclusion. This process of independent checks is known as 'peer review' and is a fail-safe method of ensuring that only proven science is used and applied in society. The only place you will find a scientific hoax today is on dodgy websites specialising in conspiracy theories.

The application of many areas of science has made huge impacts on our modern lives, from medicine, as opposed to witch-craft, to digital communication as opposed to use of a carrier pigeon, to air travel as opposed to walking. The extent to which all of these advances are good things is of course a different debate. My point is we cannot pick and choose which proven scientific theories we like the sound of and reject those we don't. All scientific research is proven to the same high standard. Reject the knowledge of climate change and you are essentially rejecting all the other areas of modern scientific knowledge too.

Scientists have a moral responsibility to be truthful, precise and accurate and not to mislead or deceive those of us with a lesser understanding of scientific knowledge for the sake of their ego, personal beliefs, or unlawful gain. Moves are currently afoot in the scientific and mathematical worlds to establish a form of 'Hippocratic Oath' for scientists & mathematicians, similar to that which exists in the medical world, so that anyone who breaks it will be struck off and unable to have their discoveries accepted by the scientific community.

However, even without the existence of a Scientific Oath I am prepared to accept the view of the 97 per cent of scientists studying climate science worldwide, who agree that the effects of climate change is a huge threat to our continued human existence and I applaud the decision by our local councillors to take action to prevent it.

The question is, what will the councillors do?

Graham Smout