Al Gore and The BBC climate change propoganda machine tell us the science of climate change is settled – all sensible scientists believe in global warming, and think the major cause is human produced CO2.
This reveals an ignorance of the way science works. Science is never settled. One generation produce a theory that seems to fit the facts, only for it to be challenged or replaced by a different or better one by a subsequent generation. Newton seemed to have summed up the heavens, and his predictive models were good, but Einstein revolutionised the way scientists look at it. So it will be with climate science – measurement will improve, modelling will improve, and perceptions will change. Nothing is settled.
Bast and Taylor have just published a very useful survey of scientific opinion on climate change, which shows that scientists themselves are far from united in their view. The survey covered 530 climate scientists in 27 countries.
Most agreed warming was taking place, but a bigger minority strongly disagreed than strongly agreed with the proposition that it was mostly the result of human causes. More think current models cannot predict future climate change accurately than think they can. Only one third thought we could predict the next ten years, whilst more than a half thought we could not. The numbers thinking we can predict future climate change fell for more distant dates. More thought current models could not deal adequately with water vapour – the biggest greenhouse gas – than thought they could deal with it, whilst over 60% felt models could not handle clouds well, which have a big impact on temperatures. 70 % thought there would be some positive effects from global warming as well as 86% thinking there would be detrimental effects.
I was pleased to hear a BBC programme on Sunday pointing out that adaptation to climate change was a sensible response in addition to or rather than trying to cut carbon emissions.
It is important to bear in mind some figures on the relative role of UK humans in greenhouse gas totals. CO2 is only 3.6% of total greenhouse gas – water vapour is by far and way the dominant one. The Uk is only 2% of total human activity on the planet, and human activity only accounts for 3.4% of the CO2 emitted – the rest comes from natural sources. This means that the UK human contribution to total greenhouse gas in the world is 0.0025%.
As readers of this blog will know, I do favour taking action to cut our demands for fuel, and to limit environmental damage, for a variety of good reasons. Eliminating NOX, SOX and particulates is a good idea to improve air quality, and cutting fuel burn is important as it is scarce resource coming from politically unstable areas in many cases. Those reporting climate change should report it like all other areas of human thought and activity – subject to disagreement and to changing perceptions as people learn more about it.