Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Poles apart.

That seems to be the situation between those who generally accept that any, or part of, observed climate change is man made (or man worsened), and those who categorically do not believe mankind is having any impact on our planet's climate.

As an example, here are two articles, both from today's Belfast Telegraph.

Scientists prove that climate change IS man-made. Now that's a BIG claim, and it is one of the few occasions that I've actually seen the term 'prove' used. The article refers to new computer models that look at Arctic and Antarctic (which is now actually warming, contrary to some reports from recent years) temperature variations. The conclusion? "In both polar regions the observed warming can only be reproduced in our models by including human influences – natural forcings [increases] alone are not enough." (I have to admit that I find it difficult to accept 'proof' from a computer model; a plausible projection, another small piece of the evidential jigsaw, or a supporting statistical conclusion, yes, by all means; but 'proof'?)

Yet in the same publication, an article by Sammy Wilson (no less than N. Ireland's environment minister) who believes that man-made climate change is a con. “I think in 20 years’ time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all. Because there is now a degree of hysteria about it, fairly unformed hysteria I’ve got to say as well."

I'll leave you, the reader, to examine the evidence for yourselves, and to draw your own conclusions. My wish for the new year is that we can get back to reasoned debate and away from the hysteria and spin that has consumed this (potentially devastating to mankind) topic over the last couple of years.

For those who do not understand the consequences of increasing amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere, the Economist provides a simple to understand article 'The Curse of Carbon' which describes what may happen if ocean acidification continues unchecked. It also suggests what the implications of sea-level rises might be. Well worth a read.

Will the argument ever be concluded? Time alone will tell.

A happy new year to one and all.