Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Crying wolf

A fair amount of flak comes my way from some quarters for my comments on climate change.  Yesterday the Scotsman was alone amongst major UK newspapers in handing over its front page to the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on climate change impacts.

I responded, and the Letters Editor has kindly published my rather lengthy response today.  I reproduce details below should you wish to read or engage.  I don't normally intrude such issues into this blog - but you would be surprised at the impact of this issue has on council policies and matters.
Here we go again. The litany of alarmist predictions for the future fills a few pages of your paper once more (1 April) as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes its latest report, this time on the impacts of climate change.
I am what might be called a lukewarmer. I believe the world has warmed in the past 200 years, that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased through human-caused emissions and that human activity can be expected to contribute to a temperature rise.
The science of a greenhouse effect is not in doubt. Key ­issues, however, are how much warmer, how great the human contribution is and what ­impacts are likely.
The problem with the IPCC is that it is involved in predictions where the uncertainty is great and its track record is poor. It has placed too much reliance on the models it has constructed rather than real-world data.
In addition, its evidence-base is largely founded on the increase in temperature over a period of around 25 years towards the end of the last century – which is certainly not unprecedented. The IPCC has a credibility problem.
The 2007 report was found to be riddled with significant errors (such as the warning that the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 – when the originating report suggested it might happen by 2350).
The predictions accompanying that report and its predecessors are looking increasingly threadbare – there has been no meaningful warming of near surface temperatures for 17 years, nor has there been an increase in global intensity of extreme weather.
The IPCC response has too often been to rubbish criticism. With derision, its chair accused those who pointed out the Himalayan melt error of “voodoo science”.
Until recently the IPCC has been in denial about the failure of global temperatures to increase and has yet to produce a credible explanation which fits with what policymakers have been repeatedly told to expect.
The dire warnings have also led to damaging actions. For example, the hype has led to a regulatory requirement for the diesel in vehicles to contain a proportion of biofuel.
Huge subsidies for growing such crops have led to significant proportions of worldwide agricultural land being taken out of food production – pushing up food prices and hitting the world’s poor and hungry the hardest.
Few would now accept this use of biofuel is a good idea.
Certainly, there are significant uncertainties about the impact of humans on climate. However, science is not ­advanced by consensus or a majority.
There are many experts such as Richard Tol (“Threat ‘exaggerated’ says climate report rebel”, 1 April) who do not subscribe to the hype and alarmism that the current ­report pushes.
The IPCC has a track record of poor governance policies and processes, inaccurate claims and politicisation.
It has also cried wolf too often.
(Cllr) Cameron Rose

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