Good evening all. JaS, nobody could be more concerned about the environment than me but I believe that politics has overtaken the true issues.
Yes, politics has entered the debate over climate change and made it very polarised. The problem here is that scientists do not do well in political debates. Ask a scientist if the link between tobacco and cancer is proved and they will answer that it is the best theory we have at the moment but that tomorrow there may be a better theory. If you are looking for certainty, don't ask scientists, they are trained sceptics.
I for one do not think that CO2 is the real problem and yes I think climate change has been happening from 'Day One'.
I'd like to just ask a simple couple of questions here:
1) do you agree that the climate is warming?
2) how do you explain this warming?
The reason I ask these questions is that the changes in climate at the moment are not able to be explained by natural causes alone. Something else is happening. The theory (note: the word theory is used in the scientific sense here and means a hypothesis with evidence to back it up, as opposed to the common usage of the term theory to mean an explanation not necessarily backed up by evidence) that human activity, most notably the burning of carbon based fuels leading to CO2 emissions, is the best scientific explanation we currently have for observed climate change, and is the explanation with the most evidence to support it.
The climate of this planet has been changing from day 1. This is true. However, natural cycles do not happen as fast as they are happening today. According to the State of the Climate bulletin put out by the American Meteorological Society the hottest 20 years out of the last 150 are, in order from warmest, 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2003, 2001, 1997, 2008, 1995, 1999, 1990, 2000, 1991, 1983, 1987, 1998, 1994, 1981. These are all very recent. Clearly something is going on. This planet has had quite a different climate in the distant past, but you may notice something else about this distant past: humans did not exist then.
It is a very complex situation. Here in Australia our federal government's attempts to introduce an 'ETS' (carbon tax) has just been defeated in parliament, for the time being.
The Emissions Trading Scheme being proposed by our government is a crock of s. It gives huge subsidies to those who are creating the pollution in the first place. It is not a serious attempt to address the problem. A carbon tax would be preferable as it would actually attack the problem. A carbon tax with built in increases would be a real start to solving this problem as it would tax the cause making non-carbon energy sources cheaper in comparison. The ETS is not a carbon tax, that is just a deliberate distortion promoted by vested interests.
I am a supporter of 'Bob Carter', an academic from a local university who is also a 'global warning/ climate change' sceptic.
Google on 'Bob Carter', and have a read of his opinions which are based on scientific fact, and draw your own opinions. Regards, .
Personally I do not trust Bob Carter. He has spoken at a conference organised by the well known US right wing think tank the Heartland Institute. This is the same mob who have campaigned against tobacco control measures in the USA. He is a marine geologist, not a climate scientist, and has little or no standing amongst climate scientists.
I am very passionate about this issue as I have read widely on this and I would make one simple assertion: human activity is the best explanation we currently have for observed climate change.
One more observation I would make. If we get it wrong there are 2 possibilities:
Scenario 1: We don't believe the scientists, we do nothing about climate change, but the scientists are proved correct.
In this situation we are faced with substantial environmental damage to the planet, climate change forces extinctions, threatens our agriculture, sea levels rise and there is a huge economic cost to try and mitigate the effects of climate change in a very big hurry. I can see no upside in this scenario.
Scenario 2: We believe the scientists, we take decisive action, but the scientists are proven wrong.
Our economic growth is slowed by the need to invest in developing non-carbon based energy sources. We do end up paying higher taxes to encourage the phasing out of energy sources such as coal, oil etc. We phase out the use of useful sources of energy. Our living standards may decline or not rise as quickly as they could have. There is an upside in this scenario though, we now use renewable non-polluting energy sources and no longer have the worry of running out of oil, coal etc. Given that latest research indicates reserves of oil are less than we have been told this is a pretty good upside.
In the scenarios above, if we get it wrong, I would way prefer to get it wrong by believing the scientists and finding out they are incorrect. Furthermore, the chances that the scientists are wrong really is quite small given that climate change research has been going on for at least 25 years, and that the vast majority of scientists (as opposed to journalists who write opinion pieces) in the field agree that human activity is the best explanation we have based on the evidence. On any risk analysis we should have started acting on this many years ago. Unfortunately, we will probably have to wait for some real disasters to hit large rich countries to really get some serious action on this issue. As it stands, with 12 years of drought in Southern Australia where I live, with water storages at record low levels, with record high temperatures, hotter summers, warmer winters, I can already feel the effects of climate change where I live.
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