Climate Change: Mere Gesture

This is a letter by Roy Nicholls which appeared in the Methodist Recorder , 28 Jan 10, edited slightly for clarity and reproduced by permission.

........In her recent letter, the Rev Elaine Rawlings did not mention the rising tide of scepticism about climate change. What was, for some, the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen Conference, is an indication that those in high places are having second thoughts.

I am not saying that climate change does not exist. However, in my view, the evidence for it is far from convincing. It is true that glaciers are shrinking - evidence I have investigated myself, by close observation of certain glaciers over many years. This is nothing new.

Over the centuries many glaciers have disappeared but in those days, no-one raised the spectre of climate change. Note the switch in vocabulary - now we have 'climate change', not 'global warming'. Much of the evidence is inferred and is not from temperature measurement.

What is of greater concern is the pressure to spend large sums of money combating this unproven threat. The evidence that human activity is contributing to the supposed change is flimsy. Carbon dioxide is the bogey man. The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide can be proven in the laboratory, but this is insufficient to support an argument that it is the principal cause of warming on a global scale and that human activity is mainly to blame for an increase in its concentration in the atmosphere.

It is a serious mistake to throw money at a problem which may or may not exist. At this moment there are parts of the world where twenty percent of children do not reach their fifth birthday. In our own land, sick people are denied drugs which would alleviate their suffering because the NHS cannot afford them.

We have yet another scare story. Do you remember salmonella in eggs or acid rain? These have fallen out of the agenda, but new threats appear.

I suggest that these be judged against four criteria:

  • Does the existence of a research institute or other body and the funding it receives depend on the level of public anxiety?

  • Is some ageing academic seeking one last chance for fame?

  • Does it attract viewers or readers to the media?

  • Do politicians see scare stories as a way of deflecting attention away from more pressing problems (e.g. the economy)?

    Before we consider questions of action and tools, we need to understand the problem. Otherwise, what we do becomes mere gesture.

    Roy Nicholls; reproduced by permission of Methodist Recorder.

    N.D./ habitat21/ 6 Feb 10

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