Blowing hot and cold on warming
It is extraordinary to me that there are still such a number of climate change skeptics. The frightening thing is that so many remain in influential positions – are they really of the view that climate change doesn’t exist or does it just suit their own agendas to say such. The Berkely Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project appeared to show, indisputably, that the Earth’s land surface has warmed by 1.5c in the past 250 years.
The study, by Professor Richard Muller and his team at the University of California, found that human emissions of greenhouse gases are almost entirely to blame for the rise in temperatures. Muller, previously a climate change skeptic himself, claimed to be surprised by the findings but has conceded that there now is enough evidence to make him change his mind. He also said that the analysis suggests we can expect a further 1.5 degree warming in the next 50 years.
The study included the analysis of a staggering 14.4m land temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world, dating back to 1753. On top of this, the data was analysed automatically to ensure that it was free from human error or influence.
So, why do many skeptics remain who are unable to fully accept these results? Prof Judith Curry, a climatologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a consulting member of the BEST team, told the Guardian that the method used to attribute the warming to human emissions was “way over-simplistic and not at all convincing in my opinion”. Really? Can the picture painted by 14.4m land temperature readings be that woolly?
John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel in USA, is reported just this week to have called global warming a ‘hoax’, and a report in Forbes claims that it is ‘criminal’. It goes on to say that looking back through history to the Ice Age, it would be worrying if the earth wasn’t getting warmer.
Luckily, I believe that the majority of people are now convinced, so I am happy to ignore the propaganda spread by some. The real challenge now though is reaching agreement across the political, diplomatic and cultural spectrum, as to what can and should be done. We seem to have been debating this for far too many years already and, while we continue to debate and prevaricate, the problem continues to go unrestrained.
The latest turn of events, or about-turn of events, is George Osborne’s ‘dash for gas’, criticised by the Climate Change Committee for jeopardising the country’s carbon reduction commitments by questioning the development of zero-carbon electricity generation over new gas power stations. It appears that fulfillment of his proposal may breach laws relating to Britain’s carbon reduction commitments, but the fact that this debate is taking place, at this stage, is disheartening to say the least. Sadly, if the decision makers keep changing, as they inevitably will through the electoral cycle, vital decisions about the future of our world will continue to be delayed.