SCEPTICS' OBJECTIONS and some typical RESPONSES
OBJECTION: But we want some warming in
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
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