CLIMATE CHANGE
Are YOU concerned?

 

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updated
22/Nov/04
 


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SCEPTICS' OBJECTIONS and some typical RESPONSES
 

OBJECTION:  But we want some warming in Britain!
RESPONSE: The concern is about the average warming globally; this makes the climate systems more volatile and results in increased extreme weather - people in many parts of the world are suffering badly. The problem came much closer in summer 2003 with over 20,000 deaths in Europe; the south of Britain was parched and searingly hot – it could soon get very uncomfortable here too!

 

OBJECTION:  But there have always been floods and droughts, and hot or cold periods.
RESPONSE:  Not with the severity and frequency of recent years; e.g. three times as many severe natural disasters worldwide in 1990s than in 1960s. Furthermore, the new factor is the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, greater than for many thousands of years and rising fast.


OBJECTION:  But we need to consume energy to live.
RESPONSE: We can meet our basic energy needs more efficiently and after that, there is enormous scope for moderation.


OBJECTION: There is no proof that human activity is causing climate change.
RESPONSE:  True, but the concensus of researchers is that it is, so let's not gamble with the wellbeing of other people and of future generations. There may never be cause-and-effect proof. Nobody can deny that greenhouse gases are increasing and causing warming – these are scientific facts – the only contention is the extent of the resulting problem. Our emissions are effectively irreversible and have been described as “the largest uncontrolled scientific experiment in history”.


OBJECTION:  Not all climate scientists agree that human activity is contributing to global warming.
RESPONSE:  The majority do and the leading names among the sceptics have been found to be sponsored by oil and mining companies.


OBJECTION: You are doom-mongers!
RESPONSE:  But people are suffering now!


OBJECTION: You can’t make any difference.
RESPONSE: Edmund Burke stated 200 years ago: "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little". It’s a matter of principle to try. If we succeed in encouraging some people to reduce energy consumption, we have made a difference, however small. And at some point, it might just catch on!


OBJECTION:  It’s too late already.
RESPONSE: It may be, but climate predictions are uncertain and nobody really knows for sure just what will happen or when. We should make every effort to reduce emissions in the hope that life will be tolerable for future generations.


OBJECTION: Warming might help avert the next ice age.
RESPONSE: Ice ages are caused by variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The latest analysis of an Antarctic ice core showed that the last time the Earth’s orbiting behaviour was as now, the warm period between ice ages lasted 28,000 years – in which case we have 18,000 years still to go. Some predictions are much longer - to 50,000 years. In contrast, severe warming due to climate change could increase rapidly during the next few decades!, and with the risk of runaway spiralling effects.