Climate Change and Legitimate Debate

The following article appeared as a letter from the Rev. Howard Curnow in the Methodist Recorder , 13 Aug 2009, and is reproduced by permission. Many thanks ........ Ed.

In the report on the [Methodist] Conference debate on 'Hope in God's Future' (Methodist Recorder, 16 Jul 09), Prof. David Clough is quoted as saying, "There was time when there was a legitimate debate about whether human economic activity was having an adverse effect on the earth's climate. That time is long past."

According to the Methodist Recorder Conference Digest, (Methodist Recorder, 30 July) "It is now intellectually and morally irresponsible to fail to acknowledge and address the urgent need for radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent intolerable damage to human populations and mass extinction of many plant and animal species".

Bearing in mind that as late as the late 1970s concern was being expressed about global cooling, it seems to me that what is intellectually irresponsible is to refuse to acknowledge that there are large question-marks over many of the assertions of those who maintain that, whatever may be the extent of global warming, it is caused by human activity.

I write as one who has considered Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and Channel 4's "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (and found the latter at least as persuasive as the former), and as one who has read Bjorm Lomberg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World", and have come to the conclusion that the whole subject is nothing like as cut and dried as some would have us believe.

Reading the chapter "Saving the Planet" in Booker and North's book, "Scared to Death", makes it very plain that IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports (often cited as definitive proof on questions of global warming) are a long way from being the result of pure, disinterested scientific observation (and a long way from being a true 'scientific consensus').

I could go into reasons for doubting both the extent of climate change and that climate change is driven by human activity, and reasons for urging extreme caution over the use of computer modelling of climate, but my purpose in writing this is simply to assert that there is still room (and much need) for legitimate scientific debate over global warming theories.

It disturbs me that much of what I read on the subject looks more like defending or attacking beliefs (and those who hold them) than an honest pursuit of truth.


    Those who wish to know more about global warming will find a fascinating essay here, entitled A history of the global warming scare.

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