Here we go again. The litany of alarmist predictions for the future fills a few pages of your paper once more (1 April) as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes its latest report, this time on the impacts of climate change.
I am what might be called a lukewarmer. I believe the world has warmed in the past 200 years, that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased through human-caused emissions and that human activity can be expected to contribute to a temperature rise.
The science of a greenhouse effect is not in doubt. Key issues, however, are how much warmer, how great the human contribution is and what impacts are likely.
The problem with the IPCC is that it is involved in predictions where the uncertainty is great and its track record is poor. It has placed too much reliance on the models it has constructed rather than real-world data.
In addition, its evidence-base is largely founded on the increase in temperature over a period of around 25 years towards the end of the last century – which is certainly not unprecedented. The IPCC has a credibility problem.
The 2007 report was found to be riddled with significant errors (such as the warning that the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 – when the originating report suggested it might happen by 2350).
The predictions accompanying that report and its predecessors are looking increasingly threadbare – there has been no meaningful warming of near surface temperatures for 17 years, nor has there been an increase in global intensity of extreme weather.
The IPCC response has too often been to rubbish criticism. With derision, its chair accused those who pointed out the Himalayan melt error of “voodoo science”.
Until recently the IPCC has been in denial about the failure of global temperatures to increase and has yet to produce a credible explanation which fits with what policymakers have been repeatedly told to expect.
The dire warnings have also led to damaging actions. For example, the hype has led to a regulatory requirement for the diesel in vehicles to contain a proportion of biofuel.
Huge subsidies for growing such crops have led to significant proportions of worldwide agricultural land being taken out of food production – pushing up food prices and hitting the world’s poor and hungry the hardest.
Few would now accept this use of biofuel is a good idea.
Certainly, there are significant uncertainties about the impact of humans on climate. However, science is not advanced by consensus or a majority.
There are many experts such as Richard Tol (“Threat ‘exaggerated’ says climate report rebel”, 1 April) who do not subscribe to the hype and alarmism that the current report pushes.
The IPCC has a track record of poor governance policies and processes, inaccurate claims and politicisation.
It has also cried wolf too often.
(Cllr) Cameron Rose
Hurrah for Professor Richard Tol of the University of Sussex. A least he shows sense, unlike our battery of environmental Jeremiahs.
These IPCC reports are literature surveys and numerous papers I have read take as gospel the more extreme version of temperature projections of the global circulation models. There are some 70 of these altogether.
The scientific literature also shows the primary models disagree enormously with each other over cloud formation and precipitation, crucial factors in estimating future climate temperature, and it reports direct evidence that these imperfect models have unwittingly exaggerated twofold or more climate temperature estimates.
Recent approaches instead use direct satellite observation of heat from the sun arriving and leaving the planet and measured ocean temperature.
These estimate a maximum temperature increase of only two degrees well over a century away and confirm the exaggeration of models.
Direct empirical observation is credible; notional models, no matter how elaborate, are only as good as the understanding that underpins their construction.
If we are going to de- carbonise electricity supply, then at least do the job properly.
Renewables UK recently claimed that all the thousands of turbines had displaced 10 million tonnes of UK carbon dioxide while omitting to state that the UK emissions were 50-fold higher than that, and world emissions 50-fold higher again.
Adapting to whatever the future holds needs a bustling, creative, robust and wealthy economy and the key to all this is cheap, reliable electricity.
That means nuclear and gas, not the expensive, unreliable and destructive renewables this government favours.
(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE
Scientific Alliance Scotland
North St David Street
Researchers, scientists and university professors – desperate to keep their “green fees” salaries and grants – keep coming up with “doomsday scenarios” about global warming.
Professor Peter Smith, a lecturer at Aberdeen University, said global warming will have catastrophic consequences.
However, he believes Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in the race to save the planet.
If he believes this then his students should boycott his lectures on the basis of fantasy.
It may have escaped his notice that the planet has not warmed for 16 years and that Scotland has less than 0.15 per cent of global emissions.
St Brycedale Court
Clark Cross (Letters, 31 March) criticises, with some justification, the Scottish Government’s renewables programme because of its likely adverse effect on the country’s economic performance.
However, those having had only a fleeting glance at the latest IPCC report will realise that by far the greater problem is the sheer lack of sufficiency and timeliness of such programmes to deal with the terrifying threat of climate change.
The 20th century did give us a more realistic counter-measure, which I have continually advocated.
This blessing is nuclear energy but, as I have also repeatedly noted, any potential benefit has been largely eroded by its becoming the modern witchcraft, with the widespread but completely irrational fear of its side-effects being ruthlessly exploited for political ends.
Unfortunately, we also have the well-established situation of the repeated utterance of lies transforming them into accepted truth, so it may be beyond any rational presentation of fact to reverse this unfortunate situation, but perhaps it is worth another try.
Before the ban on atmospheric testing, in one year alone the radioactive discharge into the atmosphere was 100 times that of Chernobyl. Since then population growth and life expectancy have simply carried on increasing.
High-level flying greatly increases your radiation exposure. Has that put you off your foreign holidays? Has there been a marked increase in cancer deaths attributable to this cause?
A similar attitude prevails for medical uses of radiation. Within your own body about 7,000 radioactive processes take place every second; it is a natural phenomenon.
(Dr) A McCormick
I have no doubt the experts will laugh at my non-scientific “gut feelings” regarding climate change, but I can’t help thinking that human beings are not totally to blame for our present situation.
Surely, over the millions of years the world has been spinning, there have been numerous changes of climate and some of them long before man, or indeed any creature, made an appearance on Earth.
Isn’t what is happening just another blip on the global-warming front?
Certainly humans should take the problem seriously and try to do everything possible to try to halt it – but to scaremonger the way the scientists have been doing is, to my mind, over the top.
Lanark Road West