Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Climate change policy statement

Many other blogs by writers with a similar viewpoint to myself cover climate change.  They tend to specialise in it and do a much better job than I ever could.  However if I am blogging about science it is inevitable I will cover this subject and as a first post on the issue I wish to make my views clear.

I believe that:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, halogenated hydrocarbons, water vapour etc. are able to absorb infra-red radiation and thus act to trap heat within the earth's atmosphere.
  • The climate is in continual flux and has experienced extremes of temperature in recent geological history from which it has recovered to give the climate we now experience.  This continual flux makes it difficult to isolate the impact of any one particular variable upon climate. This remains a major challenge for climate science.
  • That the carbon dioxide concentration of the earth's atmosphere has in recent geological history been much higher than that we currently experience or predict in the next 100 years given our current output.  This has not caused catostrophic runaway warming due to inherent feedback mechanisms.
  • There is no "ideal" climate as it continually changes. The climate we currently experience is the product of random solar and geological activity (eg volcanoes) as well as mankind's actions since the dawn of time.  As an example the hunting of mammoths to extinction led to forests becoming more widespread and the earth's albedo decreasing as a result.  Therefore to suggest the climate of today or 20 years ago is in some way the "ideal" or "correct" climate which we should aspire to preserve is deeply unscientific and wrong.
  • That climate modelling by computer is an immature science that is currently unsupported by experimental results.  Since computer climate modelling began as a science there has been the opportunity to predict future climate given a range of scenarios.  We are now at a point where prior modelling should have been backed up by experimental results (i.e what was predicted 10-15 years ago vs. what is the climate now).  However, the experimental results that have so far been obtained are not able to validate the modelling therefore the modelling cannot currently be relied upon.
  • Climate is a highly complex system that is beyond our current modelling capabilities.  Our models are not sophisticated enough and input data (from past temperature recording, tree rings etc) are noisy, incomplete and insufficient for full scientific analysis.

Given the above I believe the following.

  • Our current scientific knowledge cannot justify the massive economic and social costs of large-scale carbon dioxide emissions reduction.
  • That even if we can accurately predict the climate is changing to a degree outside of historical norms, we further need to model the impact of that change.  It should be noted that historically mankind has thrived more in warmer times than colder.
  • That the best way to protect ourselves from rapid, dramatic and extreme climate change (which could happen anyway, for reasons outside our control) is to have a rich, dynamic world economy which will have the capital and know-how to deal with future events.  The best way to ensure such an economy is to have free markets unencumbered by unjustified environmental restraints.
  • That leftist environmentalists are attempting to use climate change to advance their political beliefs. They in turn have recruited activist climate scientists to their cause who have lost sight of the limitations of their science as a result of their political activity.

Finally I wish to state that as an individual I remain deeply fascinated with the natural world and am the type of person who can get as much enjoyment from a forest walk or studying a wild fern as I could from sipping champagne pool-side in Monte Carlo. Anyone who thinks I do not care about the earth on which I live is plain wrong.

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