When someone writes about Global Warming who has 20 years practical experience as an Earth scientist, has a PhD in Earth Chemistry, was a member of the Sustainability Commission, has sat on many business forums about the environment, was a managing director of BP and is now the Chairman of the London Stock Exchange … well, you just have to listen, don't you?
Chris Gibson-Smith is all those things, and in today's Sunday Telegraph has given us a view of the climate change debate that could well prove pivotal.
He says "As a scientist at my core … I feel that the quality of the public debate has been awful. It has been characterised by exaggerations, extreme assertions by people with no understanding of the science, and character assassinations of those who question the orthodoxy.
To begin to understand climate change, it needs to be emphasised that we are actually in the middle of an ice age. We are in a warm phase of that ice age, but we are definitely in an ice age, and what is clear is that we can expect to go back towards a period of deep cooling again, possibly within the next 1,000 years. Indeed, between the 1950s and 1970s, when the planet last experienced a period of cooling, scientists were worried that we were moving back into the next major ice pulse. When this cooling does happen, the northern half of the Northern hemisphere may become uninhabitable.
One of the possible reasons we are in this ice age, is that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere appear to be at their lowest levels for nearly 50 million years. During the last ice pulse that culminated 20,000 years ago, when Britain was covered in ice sheets miles thick, carbon dioxide concentrations were as low as 190 parts per million, which is equivalent to 0.019 per cent of the atmosphere. They have now risen to around 379 parts per million, but 50 million years ago they were at 1,400 per million. The probable reason for this relatively low level of carbon dioxide is that volcanic activity has gradually declined over the past 50 million years, so the only source of new CO2 in the atmosphere has been declining while other processes, such as weathering and photosynthesis, have continued to strip carbon out of the atmosphere and bury it in the earth.
It is clear that carbon dioxide is one factor that influences climate. Without the greenhouse effect it creates, the planet would be a permanent ice ball and there would be no life as we know it. Historically, rises in CO2 seem to have followed temperature increases, but human activities are now introducing something new that hasn't happened before.
Oddly, however, although we are raising the carbon dioxide levels in a linear fashion, the temperature is not behaving in the way it should if there was a simple linkage. Clearly, there are things going on which we do not yet understand. This is true of climate change as a whole. The science is complex and can only begin to be understood by blending astronomy, geology, biology, oceanography and meteorology. There are many uncertainties and disagreements about how these disciplines contribute and interact with each other. There is still great uncertainty over the role of the Sun, how the Earth's orbit affects climate, the way the oceans take up carbon dioxide and the role biology has to play in the planet's climate.
This all makes it difficult to predict what is going to happen, and it reduces the credibility of those who suggest that the science is certain. In fact, the predictions give a wide range of possible outcomes and at the moment the temperature changes are tracking the low end of the forecasts. The current trend could take us back to European temperatures of 1,000 years ago within 100 years.
Simplistic responses are likely to be damaging. Take 4x4s, for instance. While I can't see the point of them in towns, taxing them in terms of climate is meaningless, except on a symbolic level. Aviation has also been unfairly targeted. It makes up a tiny part of the total contribution to emissions, around 2 per cent but, like taxes on tobacco and alcohol, it has been carefully targeted not to change behaviour while raising large amounts of tax revenue."
To read the complete article, click here.
It was also very satisfying to read, in the Sunday Times, A.A.Gill's opinion of the execrable George Moonbat, the UK's most vociferous Global Warming Nazi …
"… don't for a moment imagine that the bicycle-riding, organic-hedgerow-grazing, self-denying, 40-watt miserablists are in fact selfless crusaders for the common good. Never underestimate the sustaining pleasure of a hair shirt. Just look at George Monbiot, and witness a man who couldn't be happier about the imminent demise of life as we know it. It has given him purpose, prestige and celebrity: without global warming he'd be a geography teacher."
All in all, a pretty good Sunday for those of us who see the Global Warming Conspiracy for what it is.
Hold on, though, it's April 1st.
No, they couldn't … surely not …
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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