Saturday, July 21, 2007

Local Flooding, Global Warming

Two friends of mine, who were due to spend a couple of days in London returned from Bristol Temple Meads Station a couple of hours later, their travel plans in ruins due to the flooding. Another friend has just spent hours on the roads, most of it trapped in the chaos that is the M5. The news from the Glade festival (where lots of Bristolian's have gone) is also bleak with the closure of the Overkill stage and problems for other parts of the event. (The organisers are hoping to re-open the stage) This following the weather assault on Glastonbury and Ashton Court and weeks of weird and erratic weather. Mother nature truly is a powerful force, and she dominates the headlines of todays papers. I guess this does lead to the question of global warming – is this weather linked? The bastion of business values, the FT suggests so;

Erratic weather has been held up as evidence of global warming. Growing incidence of floods is meanwhile changing attitudes to property in low-lying areas. An estate agent’s blurb promising “river views” is only alluring so long as the homebuyer’s chances of seeing the river lapping around his three-piece suite are low. Planning authorities are starting to take a more critical view of developments that increase flooding risk by building on fields.

In it's own coded language I would suggest the FT is hedging its bets that, yes, the erratic weather and global warming are linked – else why else would planning rules need to be re-visited unless the weather was changing? They are not the only media outlet to consider the weather as a portent of things to come, the Times ran a piece entitled 'Ten predictions about climate change that have come true' while the Scotsman's farming writer, in a piece entitled 'How my scepticism on global warming took a real battering' noted at the end of June;

“Good riddance to flaming June and welcome to what we hope might just be a more pleasant July. I have to admit to a degree of scepticism on global warming, but those doubts are now increasingly in reverse gear. April was just about as wonderful as anyone, especially farmers, could wish, then along came May which was strictly average, but June proved to be a real horror.”

As we now know, July was not the respite that this writer was hoping for - far from it. It would seem to me that the climate-skeptic view has been dealt a double whammy, first by the flooding and the evidence of our every-day lives and second by the scientific research demolishing their favorite 'solar warming' theory, the final volley of which was a reply by Professor Mike Lockwood;

"Because I am a solar physicist, it would make me very happy indeed were the sun to be the cause of current climate change, partly because it would make my studies more relevant and important but mainly because I understand that solar activity will almost certainly decline in years to come. This would mean that the greatest threat to mankind's continued prosperity and wellbeing, namely climate change, would also decline. Sadly for me, and for all of us, you cannot wish or spin away a scientific reality."
(original article, reply and counter reply)

At a climate protest some years ago I listened to a Young Republican, who, as part of a group of 20 or so zealot students who had flown over to tour European protests to rubbish the Kyoto agreement. He outlined the climate-septic view of the worse case scenario, “You know of the chaos of the European economies after the second world war?” He asked us, we nodded yes, “If you implement Kyoto then that chaos would be like a picnic, it would be like a worse version of the great depression – any of you have a job?” He asked the five or so listeners, all of us responded that we did, “Well if you sign this, you can kiss that goodbye.”

Now while the science behind global warming is not 100% (more like 95%), the science of the septic is even shakier – so which view would you rather hedge your bets with – that by trying to save energy and reduce consumption we may trigger a huge economic depression, or the worse case predictions of the 'global warming is real' view; we risk the lives a millions of people, the destruction of hundreds of species and eco-systems and much more. I know where I hedge my bets.

It is time to bury the sceptic view - they had ther chance, failed and it was drowned in the 'summer' of '07 - now to the important question - what are we going to do about it?


Anonymous said...

One problem I have with this whole ‘debate’ is the concept of ’scientific consensus’. Consensus is a political, not scientific, term.

Here’s an interesting, albeit non-scientific, exercise: You know there’s lot’s of information to find out there by doing a Google search for ‘global warming’, and a lot of it is quite scary; but try adding ‘climatologist’ to your search terms and the results - the ‘consensus’, if you will - changes dramatically. It’s quite interesting how many actual climatologists are anthropogenic global warming doubters, compared with the doomsayers who are in other fields like geology, biology, journalism, politics, fashion, and entertainment.

Try it - search?hl=en&q=climatologist+global+warming

Anonymous said...

Right on anonymous!

Also consider this: We know ice ages are cyclical. Doesn't it stand to reason that the warming periods in-between would also be part of the same cycle?