The Climate Parliament: The scientific debate is over – the ball is now in our court

Uttarakhand FloodsThe scientific debate is over.

That’s the message from a network of MPs called the Climate Parliament.

Now it’s down to politicians and policy makers to ensure we avoid a global catastrophe.

The Parliament believes that today’s International Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report is the most comprehensive, detailed account of current climate science. Despite much press scepticism, scientists overwhelmingly agree:

Climate change is real, and it’s already happening.

Across the world MPs are calling for stronger national action. Dr Jhansi Lakshmi Botcha, an MP from the coastal state of Andhra Pradesh in India says:

The latest report only confirms what my fellow Indians are already experiencing – climate change is happening now. In the last 18 months the world has seen record Arctic ice melt, serious crop failures, and extreme weather events such as the devastating floods that killed almost 6,000 people in Uttarakhand. Unless action is taken to reduce carbon emissions, these kinds of climate impacts will become ever more common – as will disease epidemics, water scarcity, and refugee crises.

Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP, a co-convener of the Climate Parliament Bangladesh Group, agrees:

Scientists are as certain that global warming is real as they are that smoking causes cancer. Climate change is a man-made problem that threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions; it requires a man-made solution.

Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson, chairman of the Climate Parliament, adds:

The publication of today’s report is a call to action for coordinated, committed parliamentary initiatives from the global north and south. Climate change recognises neither national boundaries nor ideological disagreements; tackling it will require cooperation, dedication, and courage. The scientists have done their job; now it’s time for politicians and policy makers to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Solving climate change is simple from a technical standpoint says the Climate Parliament. Two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuels, but with modern renewable energy technology we no longer need those fossil fuels. The earth receives more energy from the sun in one hour than we use in an entire year, and there’s enough wind to power the globe ten times over. We have the technology to connect everyone to energy-rich areas such as sunny deserts or windy seas through high-voltage direct current cables, which can supplement whatever energy we produce locally. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and other energy sources can be linked into an integrated regional grid to ensure a reliable supply of clean electricity for everyone.

Mr Ahmed Al Motassaddeq, MP for Marrakesh and a Climate Parliament member says:

As the International Energy Agency has pointed out, if we’re to have any hope of avoiding 2°C or more of global warming, we need to leave two-thirds of proven fossil reserves in the ground. Many governments are still seeking to expand fossil fuel production. The world must start weaning itself off this carbon-intensive energy as soon as possible, and the only plausible alternative is renewables. But renewables need political support if they’re to succeed.

The Climate Parliament says that its politics not scientific uncertainty that’s limiting action on climate change:

It’s not a lack of scientific certainty that hampers action on climate change; nor is it a lack of technology. It’s a lack of political will.

Time is running out. We need legislative action now, on every continent. The scientists are warning of a global catastrophe if we continue to rely on fossil fuels. Now it’s down to politicians and policy makers to ensure we avoid that catastrophe.

* Sir Graham Watson was a MEP from 1994 to 2014. He led the EP's Liberal Democratic Group from 2002 to 2009 and presided the ALDE Party from 2011 to 2015. He is now a Member of the European Economic and Social Committee.

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48 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '13 - 3:33pm

    Today’s news doesn’t mean we should start panicking over it and use it as an excuse for heavy state intervention, putting public money into private pockets.

    People are prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly goods, the idea we now need to attack fossil fuels and pay huge subsidies for renewable energy production is ridiculous and just what the vested interests want us to believe.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '13 - 3:41pm

    I am annoyed about the predictable requests to panic and legislate to make the industry “economically viable”, as if it isn’t already. The public deserves to be treated with more respect than this.

  • nuclear cockroach 27th Sep '13 - 4:10pm

    Sounds like Eddie Sammon has been swallowed whole by a vested interest!

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Sep '13 - 4:29pm

    Which one might that be nuclear cockroach? I’m against all corporate welfare unless the need for it has been identified by an independent economist and not a lobbyist. Lobbying is ripe and if politicians can’t be trusted to listen to the people rather than the lobbyists than I am afraid the next step will have to be direct democracy.

    I know I regurgitate what the party or other powers want me to say at times, even if I disagree with it, because that is part of the price of representing a political party, but whoever is behind all this lobbying needs to be identified and questioned.

    Isn’t it funny how on Lib Dem Voice it seems our politicians seem to lobby us more than we lobby them? That is not how representative democracy is supposed to work.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '13 - 4:58pm

    Scientific debate is never over.

  • Nobody “debates” whether gravity is dependent upon mass, Richard, and only lunatics try to “debate” whether the Earth turns on its axis or the stars swirl around the Earth, or argue that matter is composed of varying amounts of earth, water, air, and fire as opposed to protons, neutrons, and electrons.

  • nuclear cockroach 27th Sep '13 - 5:58pm

    One scientific fact is that the three gases which comprise considerably more than 99% of the dry weight of our atmosphere (molecular nitrogen, molecular oxygen and argon) are physically incapable of absorbing radiation in the infra-red, whilst trace species such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, etc., absorb strongly in the infra-red. another scientific fact is that industrial activity has increased the proportion of one of those species, carbon dioxide, from 270 ppmV to 400ppmV over a couple of centuries and is adding a further 2ppmV per annum.

    Unless you can invent some sort of thermodynamic tooth fairy to magic away the consequences, the scientific discussion is limited to how far and how fast and what are the consequences. The rest is nonsense from those who have vested interests in hydrocarbon extraction and use, or from those with extreme libertarian politics who couldn’t care less about the effects of pollution, provided no one interferes in the polluters ungodly right to carry on doing whatever he damn well wants. Apart from those deluded individuals who know nothing and hear nothing.

    Government should enforce a strict policy of decarbonising the economy as rapidly as possible. It should pay no attention whatsoever to the noises off from those who have nothing to contribute to the real discussion, that of how to achieve this.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '13 - 6:32pm

    @David-1. The present concept is that mass relates to the Higgs field, and no one really knows how gravity interacts with it. It’s still being researched. The UN report says there’s a 5% probability that climate change is no caused by people at all. There’ll be lots of continuing scientific debate on this issue and all the issues related and part of it. Some of the conclusions and recommendations may change as a result of new understanding developed in that debate.
    http://www.vice.com/en_uk/motherboard/al-gore-explains-why-civilization-might-not-survive-the-next-100-years

  • @Richard Dean: Nobody argues (except you, perhaps) that gravity is not dependent on mass. The Higgs field is a –partial– explanation of where mass comes from but has nothing directly to do with gravity. I’m afraid you are just tossing out gobbets of undigested scientific headlines in an effort to confuse the issue.

    The fact is that on some points scientific debate is *not* going on, because the issues are settled beyond reasonable dispute. On other points scientific debate is vigorous because a clear understanding of either the data themselves, or the mechanisms underlying those data, has not yet been achieved. And on other points the data are beyond dispute, but a fictitious “debate” is hosted by the press and other institutions hostile to science and with a vested interest in framing policy by the perpetuation of ignorance. For instance, those cigarette manufacturers who have denied that there is a convincing link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Or those exploiters of limited resources who wish to claim that coal or oil or whales or passenger pigeons are infinite in number and will never run out or be extinguished. And it is just the same people who have been trying for decades to deny, first, that global warming exists, and, failing that, that it is due to human activity or that humans can do anything about it.

    These arguments are not new; they have happened every time humans are on the verge of destroying a natural resource. There will always be more bison; the bison are disappearing, but it is doubtless due to some natural cause, not overhunting; the bison have disappeared, too bad, it’s too late to do anything about it. Those who accurately predict coming disasters and suggest ways to avert it are always stigmatised as doomsayers, while spurious pseudo-science, convenient to the interests of power and wealth, is concocted to justify continuing on the present path. This is an old, old, story, and what the powerful and wealthy count on is that there will always be people gullible enough to fall for the same old tactics over and over and over again.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '13 - 7:35pm

    @nuclear cockroach

    The question to debate, then, is whether levels of parts-per-million are (a) significant, as well as (b) caused by humans. Personally I tend to the 95% probability that human activity did cause them, but there’s a real, 5% chance the changes are natural. I remain to be convinced that the levels are significant. It really is all about consequences, and the figures you quote say nothing at all about that.

    Any half-way intelligent voter can see at once that, if you can’t prove it’s significant, then your conclusion about what the government should do about it is shaky at best. Indeed, the obvious non sequiturs may be one of the reasons why people are losing trust in the scientific argument.

    The thawing of the arctic is opening up a trade route from Europe, across North of Russia, to the far East. This route will save several weeks ship time for ships that presently go via the Suez canal and the Indian Ocean. Less carbon-producing fuel will be needed to transport goods. This is an example of what can be interpreted as a beneficial effect of global warming.

    Ignoring beneficial effects is another way of weakening the argument about the need to combat climate change. Everybody knows, yes everybody except the zealots knows, that every change has benefits as well as damages. If we want to win the debate about climate change, we need to recognize this honestly. Our audience will, and they will judge us on whether we do.

  • Richard Dean 27th Sep '13 - 8:42pm

    @nuclear cockroach

    No problem. Campaigners on the environment should not be looking for certainty, because certainty on this issue, of all issues, destroys credibility. Everyone knows that the weather is unpredictable for more than a few days in advance.

  • Richard Church 27th Sep '13 - 8:48pm

    Yes, some nice things might happen with climate change. I was looking forward to having a vineyard in my back garden, but now these scientists tell me my back garden might get colder while the rest of the planet warms up.

    People around the world are dying because their farms are turned to deserts, or because their homes have been washed out to sea. Coral reefs are being destroyed by the acidification of the oceans, forests are literally going up in smoke and people are fighting over access to water. Our planet is suffering the greatest mass extinction of species for millions of years, meanwhile, yes you might be able to go in a boat round the top of Russia.

  • It’s simple everyone who truly believes in man made global warming and thinks we should do something, should , well, do something. Why wait for governments? If you did not buy the things industrialists produce then they would stop producing them,

  • “The question … is whether levels of parts-per-million are … significant”

    Well, whilst we need to be careful not to confuse ppmV with ppm, it is worth remembering that gases such as Phosgene can be fatal to humans at very low ppm/ppmV, depending upon length of exposure (we are talking minutes and hours not years)… so yes it would be safe to assume an on-going 2ppmV per annum increase of CO2 is significant, even though it isn’t directly threatening to human life, but in what ways exactly it is significant we are only just discovering…

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '13 - 1:16am

    CO2 is hardly the same as phosgene!

    While I appreciate the information, I would caution that putting CO2 in the same class as phosgene damages the case for action on the environment, because people will find out that the two gases are very different, and will conclude that they’re being told lies.

    We breathe oxygen in, it reacts with sugars in our bodies and the reaction produces energy and CO2 inside our bodies. The CO2 is carried by the haemoglobin in the bloodstream back to our lungs, and we breathe the CO2 out. Animals do this too. Trees and plants ingest CO2, free the oxygen from it by photosynthesis, use the carbon, and release the oxygen into the atmosphere. These things are natural processes.

  • Andy Boddington 28th Sep '13 - 2:22am

    The debate on this thread has descended into quite a degree of personal mudslinging. I have deleted some of the comments.

    There is a major debate to be had over climate change, its science and our policy options. This is not advanced by throwing insults at each other.

    Our comments guidelines are here:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/comment-policy

  • jenny barnes 28th Sep '13 - 8:25am

    Can we have a policy of building concentrated solar power in hot sunny places, with HVDC grids to connect it all up? Yes, the cost is higher than coal, but coal isn’t paying it’s externalities. If CO2 emissions were taxed as they should be, green energy would be cheaper.

  • Inconvenient fact: the earth has cycled in and out of ice ages several times and will carry on doing so with or without humans, industry and agricultural impacts. We are still in an ice age, that’s why we have polar ice caps, and they will in the fullness of time melt whatever you imagine we can do about it.

    It would be more productive to deal with the effects of the inevitable, rather than taking Canute-like “measures” that largely involve manipulating markets, screwing the poor and pretending that keeping our houses colder is A Good Thing.

    I’m not a climate change denier but I have little patience with astronomy deniers.

  • Ann K – I doubt anyone on here is an “astronomy (or earth sciences) denier”. Clearly the cycle is much longer for going into and out of ice ages, although I know there are also such things as “mini-ice ages” and equivalent hotter periods. If you so wish, and the world wished also, we could just sit back and let climate change happen, in the time period it is, and with the likely appalling effects it will bring. When you mention dealing with the effects of the inevitable, I assume you mean allowing mass hardship, slaughter on an unimaginable scale, a continuation of destruction of the earth’s species and ecosystems as they are known now? I am also unsure what you mean by “screwing the poor”, in relation to measures to slow climate change? And surely, our experience with the period 2007 – 13 shows we need to be prepared “to manipulate markets” more? We have, surely, allowed them out of control at a time when the world is too crowded and too interconnected to do so. If markets can’t serve the people, then we need to do something about it. If the climate is changing too quickly for either man or species to adapt, we really ought to do what we can to slow that process, not by denying ice ages and non-ice ages!

  • There are natural processes, even cycles, and it would be foolish to attempt to stand in their way. What the IPCC report demonstrates with reasonable confidence, however, (and the document is relatively conservative – what everyone involved can agree on) is that human activity is adding a rapid change to whatever the earth would do “if left to its own devices”. We should be able to do something about this human “overlay” and we should want to, purely as a matter of self-interest, given the strong risk of negative outcomes for our species. Being thoughtful beings as well, of course, we should also consider what we appear to be doing to other species.

    The planet couldn’t give a damn: it’s human wellbeing that should guide us.

  • Tim13 you seem to have construed the very opposite of what I said. We CANNOT stop natural global warming and to devote our energies to tinkering at the edges is largely a waste of effort. We should concentrate on preventing mass slaughter, starvation etc by acting now to plan for the AVOIDABLE effects of UNAVOIDABLE rising sea levels.

    The focus on minimising manmade impacts makes the public cynical because what they SEE and EXPERIENCE is a series of deals and schemes whereby low income families in the first world get screwed every which way unless they are prepared to freeze and not travel, and low income families in the third world are largely left to drown, starve and otherwise have a thoroughly unpleasant existence barring the occasional high-profile humanitarian intervention.

    Faffing with low energy lightbulbs and offshore windfarms is not going to delay a single death in Bangladesh when sea levels really get going. Realistic acknowledgement that we cannot stop planetary cycles would be a helpful prelude to sorting out where human populations will need to resettle and how they might be fed.

    It will take a miraculous sea change (pun intended) in political attitudes for this process not to involve a wholesale breakdown in society but hey, let’s keep arguing about fracking if that makes us feel better.

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '13 - 12:19pm

    Moggy is correct. (https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-climate-parliament-the-ball-is-now-in-our-court-36421.html#comment-265800). According to the sometimes reliable Wikipedia

    – the world (industries and homes) produce about 30 billion tonnes of CO2 per year
    – China produces about one quarter of this total
    – The US produces just a little less than China
    – The UK produces about half a billion tonnes of CO2 per year

    On a global scale, we are a very small player. Our main impact is not likely to be in terms of the amount of reductions we can achieve in the UK. Instead, it is likely to be in terms of demonstrating that reductions can be done without damaging people’s immediate quality of life, and without damaging a country’s economy or its balance of payments.

    That seems like a problem that will not be solved by simplistic approaches such as the idea that “with modern renewable energy technology we no longer need those fossil fuels”. Some of the less affluent major producers probably don’t feel attracted to ruining their economies by buying in that expensive technology, even if they had the ability to disrupt their traditions and cultures in this Westernising way.

  • @Richard
    I was answering your question over the potential significance of these seemingly very low and hence seemingly insignificant ppm figures. Just because CO2 at current levels and up to circa 10,000ppmv has very little effect on humans doesn’t mean that it can’t have significant effects elsewhere. I use Phospene to illustrate my point, where the fatal level of this to humans is brief exposure at 50ppm.

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '13 - 12:48pm

    The main effect that CO2 has on climatologists is as a greenhouse gas, not as a poison. It tends to make the atmosphere trap the sun’s rays more than would otherwise be the case. But just as oxygen is necessary for animal life, so CO2 seems necessary for plant life, so it’s not all bad. Perhaps the answer is simply to cultivate the deserts?

  • @Richard Dean
    “Perhaps the answer is simply to cultivate the deserts?”
    Like going back to the olden days – for info http://www.livescience.com/4180-sahara-desert-lush-populated.html

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '13 - 2:43pm

    The free-market for energy is being killed by government legislation. All sources of energy, wind, coal, gas, solar, nuclear etc” has its pros and cons and people are willing to pay different amounts for each, especially as we become more educated about energy sources.

    It is entirely wrong to package it all into one category as “energy”.

    Ann K is also right to point out that this article is an example of astronomy denying.

  • Global warming is increasing desertification and rendering formerly tillable land barren. It is not making it possible to “cultivate the deserts”; quite the reverse. But really, this whole discussion is ludicrous. It reminds me of a well-known science fiction author who opposed the ban on atmospheric nuclear testing in the ’60s: his argument was that increased radiation in the atmosphere was benign, and would speed up evolution through increasing the rate of mutations! Crank attitudes like that should simply be excluded from serious discussion; treating them as if they had anything worthwhile to say creates a totally false impression of the scientific consensus.

    And so we get people saying “Oh, there’s a 5% chance that global warming isn’t caused by human activity” which slouches on to “there’s a substantial chance humans have nothing to do with global warming” which eventually becomes “it’s anybody’s guess” which turns into “scientists know nothing, and I’m not going to believe in climate change because I don’t want to.” Such is the desperation of denial.

  • Richard Dean 28th Sep '13 - 3:18pm

    Talk about a straw man!
    An argument that relies for support on the crankiness of a forgotten 1960’s writer is probably a rather weak one!

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '13 - 3:29pm

    Hmm, I’m still wrestling with this. Ideally all sources of energy would be priced differently, but I can see a problem with transportation, so it is not as simple as I make out. However that doesn’t mean it isn’t do-able.

    Having said this, I think the article still has much room for improvement and anything that asks us to panic and then legislate across the globe is going to raise suspicions.

  • @David-1
    “It is not making it possible to “cultivate the deserts”; quite the reverse.”

    How strange, you bemoan the lack of belief some display in a scientific theory (and regardless of how good the consensus is, we’re talking about future consequences so it is still theoretical), yet you deny science that has already been proven.

    Nature has already shown that it can cultivate the Sahara, albeit it was 10 k years ago, more recently scientists have started projects to green parts of the desert as well.

  • Paul in Twickenham 28th Sep '13 - 5:18pm

    Chris_sh: all science is “theory” because it is in principle falsifiable. But theory as a description of science is not remotely the same as the common use of the word “theoretical” meaning “supposition unsupported by physical evidence”. The theory of anthropogenic global warming is supported by mountains of evidence but scientists must follow scientific method and avoid assertion. That is the domain of politicians, journalists and “deniers”.

  • @Paul In Twickenham

    I wasn’t disputing the IPCC report – merely pointing out that it could only be theory (unless of course some one has a tardis), where as the ancient greening has been shown to have occurred and modern greening is actually happening – although costs are currently high.

    However, I would go further than you on your last sentence, it is my feeling that the doubt probably stems more from the lack of trust in politicians rather than a lack of trust in science.

  • Paul in Twickenham 28th Sep '13 - 5:58pm

    There is an interesting article in New Scientist this week about how to structure the arguments around AGW. The author argues that rather than talk about the facts we need to connect the science to people’s values. He makes the point that if the argument is couched in human values such as fairness, affordability and reduction in wastefulness then people are more receptive than to data on CO2 content in Antarctic ice core samples.

  • @Paul in Twickenham
    “He makes the point that if the argument is couched in human values such as fairness, affordability and reduction in wastefulness then people are more receptive than to data on CO2 content in Antarctic ice core samples.”

    Tbh, I think the person presenting the data is far more important. If the messenger is not trusted then it won’t really matter what the message is. The general public can be quite good at understanding data if it is presented in the correct format by the right person (in the present climate, I would guess that not many politicians would meet the “right” criteria).

  • @Chris_sh: If your remarks are intended to suggest that global warming is somehow “greening” the Sahara, then they are quite mistaken. Instead the desert is spreading, consuming formerly cultivated acres. The pseudo-scientific theory that ancient wet conditions in the Sahara had something to do with carbon dioxide levels is utterly false; there was not more CO2 in the atmosphere in that period, but quite a bit less. However, ongoing desertification *does* contribute to the rise in CO2 — as well as causing famine and conflict in some of the world’s poorest countries.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Sep '13 - 11:38pm

    Game set and match: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/ipcc-report-the-financial-markets-are-the-only-hope-in-the-race-to-stop-global-warming-8843573.html

    I fully understand the need to take what the Russian Oligarch owned Independent says with a pinch of salt, but how predictable that the head of the IPPC thinks we need to create a faux market for carbon, as if people can start trading it like sweets. Sweets with plenty of commissions taken in between transactions.

  • Richard Dean,

    “Personally I tend to the 95% probability that human activity did cause them, but there’s a real, 5% chance the changes are natural.”

    This implicitly misrepresents the position of the IPCC. They are saying that there is a 95% probability that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming.

    The remaining 5% mainly refers to the lesser possibility that, whilst human activity is causing global warming, there might also be something else (for example solar activity) which is also a significant cause of global warming.

  • “The ball is now in our court.”

    Indeed. And what strokes did the Lib Dems play at the Conference?

    “We don’t object to fracking. We don’t object to nuclear. Er, that’s it.”

  • @David-1
    Please re-read my comments – in the past climate change did cause greening and scientists are currently studying and piloting it now. This was in reply to your claim that it couldn’t be done,

  • Ann K I must admit, I thought you were saying that natural cyclical causation could not be stopped, and you seemed to imply that current climate change was in that category. Now I understand you to be saying that it doesn’t much matter whether it is natural or man-made, we don’t seem to be able / willing to make proposals radical enough to sort the problem, and our efforts should be aimed at helping people affected. I sympathise with this, but I still feel that we can’t really give up on trying to slow changes down, because the world – and I mean whole ecosystems now, not just the world’s people, will find it extraordinarily difficult to adapt in the time period they are likely to have. Personally, I can’t help feeling that our talk of 2080, and 2100 etc before really uncomfortable changes kick in, may be very optimistic. If, indeed, the scientists’ major hypothesis about the “pause” in rise of global surface temperatures is correct, ie that the deep oceans are acting as a heat sink, then I would be extremely worried about future further rapid changes in currents, along with ecosystems we know little about, but undoubtedly will impact directly on ecosystems nearer the ocean surface, changes to which will be seen very dramatically.

    Ann, I couldn’t agree more with you that public policy is hardly nibbling at the edges of this problem, but I would be interested to know whether you think climate change itself should or could be tackled (if you, indeed accept the conclusions that it is substantially caused by people) and if you don’t, how you think this may play out?

  • jedibeeftrix 29th Sep '13 - 9:38am

    @ AnnK – “Faffing with low energy lightbulbs and offshore windfarms is not going to delay a single death in Bangladesh when sea levels really get going. Realistic acknowledgement that we cannot stop planetary cycles would be a helpful prelude to sorting out where human populations will need to resettle and how they might be fed.”

    This, broadly speaking, would be the Lomborg position; that a greater benefit to human welfare can be achieved by ameliorating the impact of climate change than would be the case were the same effort to be expended in turning back the ‘tide’.

    A position I am sympathetic too.

  • Michael Parsons 29th Sep '13 - 11:23am

    @jedibeeftrix

    I agree – flood control etc takes priority! But amidst all this welter of science no-one seems to explain why global warming overall has ceased for the last fifteen years.
    Anyway no-one denies that changes in world temperature do and always have occured, sometimes rapidly. The idea that we can cause or stop it belongs more to the realm of meglamania than science, and needs psychological and sedative remedies rather than windmills.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Sep '13 - 12:14am

    Michael Parsons

    But amidst all this welter of science no-one seems to explain why global warming overall has ceased for the last fifteen years.

    Yes, they have – greater level of volcanic activity has been put forward as a likely explanation. Volcanic activity has been show to have had a very big cooling effect in climate in the past, for example in 1816, the Year Without a Summer.

  • @Michael Parsons: “no-one seems to explain why global warming overall has ceased for the last fifteen years.”

    No one will explain it to you because it’s not true. What you fail to understand is that global warming does not mean that every year is hotter than the last. Some individual years are hotter, some cooler. This is normal statistical noise. If you smooth out the noise (which is not a complicated process — simply do a running average of a group of years) you see that global temperature overall has been climbing; and temperatures for the last several years remain at historically unprecedented peaks, and are not going down. What you have bought into is the pseudo-scientific claptrap of companies concerned about making money from carbon pollution, and not at all concerned about the world their children and grandchildren live in — in other words, greedy, shortsighted, heartless, inhumane people.

    “The idea that we can cause or stop it belongs more to the realm of meglamania [sic] than science”

    Perhaps before you start psychoanalysing others you should learn to spell your diagnosis. The fact is that humans have made enormous impacts on the environment. We have caused the extinction or near-extinction of many once populous species. We have caused pollution on an undreamed-of scale. We put a hole in the ozone layer. We have devastated the oceans. We have torn down the forests and jungles. We have caused the deserts to spread. We have made entire seas to dry up. We have poisoned the entire atmosphere with radioactivity. And you really think you can say that it is impossible for humans to cause changes in global temperature? This is not merely ignorance; this is binding the ears and covering the eyes so that you cannot see what is right before you.

  • @ Moggy
    I hope you are wrong. I thought the USA was taking action and China and India have promised to do so in the future.

    @ Jenny Barnes – please see Ann K.’s comments
    @ Ann K.
    “taking Canute-like “measures” that largely involve manipulating markets, screwing the poor”
    @ Tim13
    “I am also unsure what you mean by “screwing the poor”, in relation to measures to slow climate change?”

    To reduce consumer use of petrol the government taxes it highly. Old cars have to pay higher road tax. The poor therefore have to pay more to travel and they are likely to be the ones who can’t afford to buy a new car with a lower car tax. The government has forced the energy companies to raise their prices to subsidise roof and wall insulation and other energy reducing measures instead of protecting the poor from these increases and only getting the rich to pay more to finance these measures.

    There is a serious debate to be had about how far UK actions will make any difference especially if Moggy is right and China, the USA, Russia and India are doing nothing. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CO2_emissions) in 2006 China produced 21.5%, the USA 20.2%, Russia 5.5%, India 5.3%, Japan 4.6% and the UK 2.0%. In 2008 the estimate for the EU was 14.0%, while China’s, Russia’s and India’s had increased. In 2008 there were only 21 countries producing more than 1%. The per person emissions (2010) are interesting – Saudi Arabia 18.2, the USA 17.6, Australia 16.0, Canada 14.9, Russia 11.8, South Korea 11.5, Germany 9.3, Japan and South Africa 8.9, Poland 8.1, the UK 7.9, Iran 7.6, Italy 6.7, China 6.2, France 5.5, Mexico 4.1, Brazil 2.2 and India 1.7.

    If the world can’t or won’t do anything and global warming is seen as unavoidable then looking back to when the earth was warmer is useful as Chris_sh suggests. If the Sahara Desert can be cultivated as it was in the past then population movement could alleviate the dire consequences of global warming.

    @ David-1
    I think that the point is that we will be able to cultivate the Sahara Desert once the earth is a lot warmer and the ice caps have melted and new weather systems have developed.

    Have the scientists stated how much emissions can be produced while reversing global warming or are we only slowing it down?

  • Jedibeeftrix,

    “@ AnnK – “Faffing with low energy lightbulbs and offshore windfarms is not going to delay a single death in Bangladesh when sea levels really get going. Realistic acknowledgement that we cannot stop planetary cycles would be a helpful prelude to sorting out where human populations will need to resettle and how they might be fed.”

    This, broadly speaking, would be the Lomborg position; that a greater benefit to human welfare can be achieved by ameliorating the impact of climate change than would be the case were the same effort to be expended in turning back the ‘tide’.

    A position I am sympathetic to.”

    You’re saying that it will be simple and easy to re-house all the Bangladeshis somewhere cooler like England, and all the Maldive Islanders and all those living on low-lying coasts, and to feed them all, and to avoid massive global conflict over all this, and to avoid causing billions of premature deaths?

    Or at any rate, that this will be a simpler thing to do than to cut down on burning fossil fuels?

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