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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Polemic |

I got fed up…

I got fed up…

I recently read (yet another) letter in the Western Morning News (why oh why do I still read this rag? it’s politically very right-leaning but remains a good source of local information. At least we’re down to once a week…) refuting climate change and suggesting that the scientific community is ‘divided’ on the subject. I had to write a reply, but as it probably won’t get published I thought I should not waste the effort entirely and invite you to read it…

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Howard Curnow (Letters, Jan 17) writes with apparent conviction challenging Martin Hesp’s article on climate change, but the ‘facts’ presented in his letter are, at best, misleading, or simply incorrect.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is convened by the United Nations to represent the world’s scientific community, and gathers and analyses published scientific articles on climate change. According to them, not only is the warming of the planet, influenced by human activity, ‘unequivocal’ but 1983 to 2012 was ‘likely’ the warmest 30-yr period of the last 1400 years. A number of recent international studies have shown that 2014 was the hottest year for the planet as a whole since records began in 1880 and probably the warmest in 1700 years. This was particularly true of the oceans, one of the primary drivers of increasing the planet’s temperatures.

As often as it is repeated by the ill-informed, it is simply not true to suggest that ‘many’ scientists disagree with climate change. Mr Curnow suggests that ‘a little online research’ makes ‘unreliable’ the fact that 97% of scientists agree with the general position on climate change. Curious, then, that not a single scientific body of national or international standing takes a formal dissenting opinion, and most governments and even many within the oil industry now agree with the essentials of climate change. I could find no reliable evidence to challenge the 97% figure, which is agreed by a very broad international consensus. Even the sceptics and paid lobbying groups such as the American Petroleum Institute are now acknowledging that the world is warming, caused at least in part by human activity. 134 scientists may have publicly disagreed with the latest, and consistently repeated findings, but these represent approximately 0.00001% of the global scientific community. That does not strike me as a level of dissent sufficient to shake faith in the overwhelming evidence.

Whilst the official graphs show that the warming trend has apparently stalled, this tells only a small part of the picture, and it is simply not true to say that experts are ‘puzzled’ by this. Global Mean Temperature, which is a very specific measure, has indeed stalled in the past half-decade, but we have been in an El Niña (which cools temperatures), and from 2005-2010 the sun went into a quiet phase, decreasing the warming energy imbalance. That is now reversing, while CO2 emissions and ocean temperatures continue to rise and the Arctic ice continues to melt.

Dissenters continue shrink in number as the overwhelming body of evidence weighs more heavily against them almost on a weekly basis.