Climate Change

Dare I say it, but at last a common sense report on climate change.

And before you get excited, let me stress that the report recognises that it is taking place and that mankind is a major contributor but it also concludes that were it not for all those pesky carbon emissions we might well be in the middle of another period of glaciation.

Some of you may be surprised that "geologically" speaking we are in the middle of a glacial epoch, one of which, of many phases of this epoch, only finished about 15 K years ago.

This glacial epoch is likely to continue with the current distribution of the tectonic plates which on some projections is going to last many millions of ye ars.

One of the primary drivers of these repeated glaciation events, is the relative position of the earth to the sun and right "now" we are receiving less "heat" than normal and that should trigger another glaciation advance.

Fortunately the extra CO2 and etc in the atmosphere and the consequent extra hearing is preventing that taking place.

Yes, I know we are having floods, sea levels are rising but I sort of know how to manage those. I have no idea what to do about an ice sheet 1 to 5 km or plus thick over London.

And by way of joining all the dots, at the last glacial maximum, northern Europe was uninhabitable and our ancestors retreated to several areas, one of which is the "Basque" area of France, the other the "Danube" basin.

So talk about an immigration crisis if all the rest of (our part) Europe decided to take up residence in the Gironde! :)


You are Sir Patrick Moore and I claim my £5 !

Good grief no, never rely on any media whether newspapers, magazines or TV. They are news, comment and entertainment that at best often only summarise very extensive research. Remember also that research articles in journals of the kind we have linked to are also only summary versions. I have known people write a 20 page peer reviewed article for a specialist journal in which they try to take in a compendium of several thousand documents, hundreds of published works plus their own actual work. The whole of research can never be written down in a lifetime in many cases. My 80,000 word thesis took in several years of practical work plus enough paper to fill a Transit van, without the books and I am not a natural scientist who make my work pale into insignificance. As Paul says, these papers set out to demonstrate such things as improved technique in forecasting, they are rarely any kind of definitive statement. One of the points about peer reviewing, which all serious papers are, is that any of the things that people suspect about researchers dancing to their donors' tunes is usually prevented. Things are approved that are wrong, but usually that is because others look at the work that describes and present their own work that gives other outcomes or even entirely disproves X. All research is progressive and invariably never finished, simply new generations of researchers take over in the fullness of time and only totally disproved, discredited, fake or pointless research is ever really given up. No opinion should ever be formulated on one set of evidence but by taking all sides of an 'argument' into equal consideration and building on what convinces one. Science is knowledge and nobody or nothing knows all. Denying and dismissing things do not make them go away, thus I take the effects of changes at present, irrespective of whether of our own doing or that of nature, and the effects on people seriously. Bear in mind I have mainly worked in developing countries where they are not as well informed as we are so when we see the mess that is sometimes all around and what even small scale things as well as industrial scale ones, simply think about how we can get the message through to them not just be appalled by seeing a mess. Although their governments probably made promises at the Paris Climate Summit, remember also that governments often say lots of things and do others including not providing the leadership people need. So do not simply blame them.

Hi Billy

What you say is correct, the sun is the primary driver of our weather and our position relative to the sun - see article on Milankovitch cycles - also has a profound effect on our climate as does the position of the various tectonic plates.

And there is no doubt that the sun has its own cycle of temperature changes - the only difficulty there is our "accurate" records, using the full range of the modern measuring devices and techniques, cover only a very, very short period thus we do not have any reliable statistics yet.

However, and this is where I think your perspective is wrong,

a) The earth has evolved with "our" Sun and life has evolved and works within its range of temperatures and their consequent climatic effects.

b) That there are short term variations of the type you describe occur is not in doubt but they are apparently short term. There is no evidence that I am aware of any long term change in the Sun's output - save when it has consumed all its current source of fuel, but that is 5 billion years or so away and even with my "Geological timeframe mind set" that is too far away to worry about!

But what we are seeing is a very definite change in the data about the global earth climate, which appears to lie outside the parameters that we expect. The most logical cause is the Industrial Revolution that has occurred and indeed the rate of change seems to be accelerating. I think to deny that is shall we say irrational.

Whether that matters depends on your time frame. To me, if we got hit by an asteroid today and we were all wiped out, the earth would correct whatever damage we had done and a new "humanoid" type species would emerge in the next 50 million years. Others, such as Brian, are rightly concerned about the relatively short term impact on people and cultures living today and their/our descendants.

My concern, is we don't know enough to make policy, and it seems to me that we more we learn the more we (should) realise how little we actually understand about the global weather machine.

Thus we had be bloody careful at what we wish for!!

Paul - can you explain why moving to France has reduced your global footprint?

Thank you Peter, yes demographically that is quite correct.

I agree, didn't suggest for a moment they weren't.

If you watch the film it sets out my feelings to the letter, almost. I think the political lobby the so called environmentalist enjoy is at best dishonest at worst dangerous......"long live the revolution" ;o))


All the evidence is that global population increase is slowing down particularly with the increase education, specifically female education,n and all the current projections suggest a FALL in population numbers in the next 50 years or so, so the scenario you present is not going to happen.

I would never rely on agencies such as the BBC to report the findings of complex scientific papers reliably so immediately turned to the source paper.

Bearing in mind that the historical evidence suggests that Ice Ages follow very long-term cycles (c. 100 millennia) and that, due to the huge number of variables and uncertainties involved, there is no way of knowing precisely when the next global downturn might or might not occur (regardless of human intervention) the superficial findings are of little material interest, either to this or the next several generations to come: note that the authors cite a range of 20,000-50,000 years before the next glaciation event, assuming no anthropogenic increases in CO2.

The main intent of the paper is to attempt to demonstrate some improved technique in forecasting and to add to the growing evidence base in support of anthropogenic climate change (see for example

Sadly climate change is only one of many issues we need to respond to. For example, with regards to species depletion these are (David Attenborough in his series The Truth About Climate Change): introduction of alien species; pollution; habitat loss; islandization; and over harvesting. At the 'biosphere' level, perhaps the best current framework is that of Planetar Boundaries devised by Stockholm University ( Adopting that viewpoint it becomes clear that equally important problems include the Nitrogen/ Potassium/ Phosphorous cycle and access to clean water.

A key aspect of the Anthropocene is that the scale and rate of change we are now experiencing is unprecedented in human history, and indeed in much of geological history. There really is no room for complacency. Unfortunately, Brian no doubt will be painfully aware of his, humans are essentially delusional and perfectly capable of remaining wildy optimistic in the face of all evidence (indeed it is that psychological flexibility which partly distinguishes humans from other animals)!

In short, at the very least WE need to be adopting more resilient ways of living NOW. There is absolutely no merit in blaming politicians because ultimately they merely mirror society's current neuroses. Similarly, there is little comfort to be had in anticipating any technological fixes a) because the main cause of the multiple problems we now face has been technologically driven change and b) because current trends suggest that any effective solutions will be commondeered by the wealthier nations thereby further increasing global inequality and, as the current Middle East crisis has demonstrated, political instability.

One consolation is that in moving from the UK to France (see it is topical!) many of us will automatically have reduced our global footprint significantly. We just need to follow this through with more rounded and considered ways of living in other dimensions!

The majority are impartial. The majority of people who receive funding are allowed to be. I was never once influenced by the UK government or any of the foundations who funded me and most of my contemporaries across all areas were likewise independent in that sense. In the USA scientists of all kinds are far more independent than one thinks. Of course a small number are effectively bought by large concerns and only say what they want them to say. Why is it that in the research community all of the well known people are very independent and the ones who speak for Monsanto, Bayer and such corporations are little known but on their payroll? Opinion has always been biased toward research being corrupt and people more or less selling their souls. That is mainly complete invention by those who want all research discredited.

This isn't the same documentary I saw a few years ago but it sums up my position perfectly.

Quite frankly if you watch it with an open mind you will not be able to consider man-made global warming ever again.

Rip Off

Brian, there is currently 4 billion $'s being spent in the US alone on research of global warming. Yet you maintain that "scientists" are somehow impartial.

Goodness knows how much the total spend's a racket!!! and we (well most of us) are blinded by the very poor science that is going on. The comment above this by Billy speaks of a far more likely cause. The fact that we have absolutely no control over that makes it a non starter as far as the politicians are concerned. Scientists too for that matter....

We do agree however on the fact that too much waste is tolerated and resources squandered. But that in my opinion has nothing whatsoever to do with global warming. That's more to do with big business making a buck...

Please go back one page and see what I said about funding. There is a popular mythology about scientists, I am not a natural scientist myself but have known many up to the one in the wheelchair a little. Only those 'owned' by big business play the tune and sing the words of those who pay them normally. As for Al Gore, he is a politician but not a scientist, originally a social affairs journalist so hardly an expert in the scientific field.

thanks, peter. this is temporary, nerve transplant from arm to finger mangled by metal tape measure. 6 weeks recovery/

thanks too for the posts. i love the statistics, helps discussion. read about Indian cows too.

is this an influence on Hindu reverence for the animal. was this emission at one time needed for survival - green energy! i have always wondered why cows are sacred.

thanks gents, wikipedia here i come. should help pass a rainy afternoon

I believe it's the suns activity that has the greatest impact, by far. The amount of energy it produces every second is awesome and it has been subject to increased solar flares, the resultant aurora borealis activity this last year has been noticeable ... apparently that's the radiation the sun produces in these flares bouncing off our atmosphere. But since the sun is our heat source every second of every day then extra heat thrown this way MUST produce a rise in temperature ? Like leaving a pan of water on a gas stove. If the flame is a teeny bit higher the pan will heat more, the water become hotter and more steam (clouds) will be produced. At least for a hemisphere dependant on the earths position relative to the sun.

Well, dare I say it....I'm a flat earther when it comes to "man-made" climate change. I don't deny it may be happening but I don't believe it has anything to do with us. "We" are simply too insignificant in terms of quantity when compared to the earth. I saw a very interesting channel 4 documentary on the subject several years ago now which kind of put things in perspective, for me at least. I would direct you too it but I expect many of you saw it?

One of the things that makes me so sceptical about the man-made element is why there appears to be a desire to "lie or mislead" on the part of so many people who no doubt have a vested interest. The "scientists" who rely on grants, politicians, who rely on votes and of course 'control' (I refer specifically to Al Gore. Stood on a stage with a massive graph behind him with he claimed showed a correlation between CO2 and average temperatures. The inference being that Temperature follows was in fact the other way round and that levels of CO2 followed the average temperature by about 600 years. He failed to mention that) Why!! .... I believe in the case of the Americans, it was to conjure up a "reason" to keep the emerging markets in Asia at bay? Before "they" changed their minds, they were perhaps among the worst contributors to Green house gasses and other pollutants.

There are many "scientists" who are too afraid to put there heads above the parapets because their careers are more important to them. Luckily I have no such constraints and look forward to the barracking I am about to receive ;o))

*takes cover*

Just to say thank you Peter I will take some time to read through those most interesting posts and try to assimilate at least some of the info whilst trying to block out the image of your hand in said lawnmower!

Tad busy now so I will take some time.

Far too many people on earth as you say Huybers Jos, overpopulation is the curse of any species. However since all governments want growth and measure their success by growth (except one) then as long as there is money and "the economy" growth will continue. Drive through a country, they are building everywhere. Look at cities and towns, they grow upwards and outwards, population density increases. Look at the growth over the last 250 years, now think forward 250 years and imagine how it will be. More built up, more overpopulated, less countryside, less forest, less jungle, more desert, more flooded, different crops, different industries, different modes of transport, different institutions but continued growth. War however big and bad hasn't stopped it, indeed it's effect is barely noticed except as national debt. Disease however virulent is contained or eradicated ... AIDS, Bird Flu, Ebola ... Drought, starvation and malnutrition, may decimate an area but the species moves or re-settles with new aid. It would take a Global Event to reduce the population since birth control and the inbred natural desire to have children means it will continue to grow. Such an event would be mass crop failure, a disease created by man and released deliberately, the sun somehow changing it's output, massive nuclear war and ensuing nuclear winter, all of which are pure fiction and unlikely to occur ever.

An important discussion which opens up a whole series of avenues for further discussion. As being an environmental educator I can only hope the next generation has a better understanding on how to 'heal' the world and not practice what their parents, perhaps in ignorance, have been doing.

Without being distracted by the arguments for or against climate change, there is no doubt, at all , that we damage the planet, in an uncaring often unthinking way.

We can talk about the over use of fossil fuels, the overuse of plastics etc and particularly the total waste of the world's resources in developing arms as part of the war industry. We really need to take stock, first as individuals and then as families, communities and nations. The discussion is a good starting point -more importantly is what action we can/should take.

No problem with the language. Like probably most other social scientists I have had the opportunity to read enough evidence to see that the distribution of human beings is wrong, mainly accidentally. Even the most crowded countries actually have more than enough space for many more, at least three times as many although perhaps even more, which could be achieved by more careful planning whilst not destroying the natural environment. However, too many wrong decisions have been reached and things done that will be difficult to reverse or repair but population redistribution and better land use for agriculture are possible where the political will exists and money is available. Both of those are a problem. One of the theories attached to those things is that the world would then be far more peaceful since the pressures on people that cause tensions that lead to war would be reduced. The main problem, as with all theories, is getting that converted into practice.