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climate change sceptic…me?
by richard cole
3.26.10
general

You would have to have the sensory skills of a tapeworm not to notice something is wrong with the weather, no matter what the scientists say about it.

I know for example, because I’ve seen it, that winters where I live are getting warmer, generally. I used to stand watching firework displays on 5th November, Guy Fawkes Night here in Blighty, when we celebrate the foiling of a plot to blow up parliament in 1605. As a young man thirty years ago, I’d need a good thick coat, hat and gloves to feel comfortable and would welcome the warmth of the traditional bonfire. Now I have been known to go to the celebration in only a jumper, well, and trousers of course, and shoes.

The snowdrops in my garden come out a day or two earlier each year, as do the daffodils and tulips. We get hawk moths in May and stag beetles are appearing earlier. I remember, as a boy some forty years ago, headlines on the front pages of the papers telling me London Heathrow was 'sizzling' in temperatures of 88°F, now it happens every year. I see birds gathering later to fly out for the winter and species we never had as a kid now visit regularly. Barkflys have made it up from Africa to Cornwall. Nature is shouting at me that the climate is changing.

The winter we have just had was the worst for at least thirty years. So I believe absolutely that the climate is changing, no question. But from there it all starts to get very confusing.

I live not far from the University of East Anglia where the Climatic Research Unit has its base. It’s been in the news a fair bit lately. Someone, it seems, hacked into their computer system and looked at their emails. Very revealing. It is alleged that some of them appeared to show that the data had, at best, been misinterpreted and at worst altered.

I can go online and find hundreds of web sites where eminent scholars tell me climate change is Man’s fault for burning fossil fuels and we’d better do something about it now or the planet is doomed. What they really mean, of course, is some species including humans might be doomed, the planet will continue for another 4 billion years or so until the sun has it for breakfast.

I can find hundreds more web sites where equally eminent scholars tell me it’s historic and all to do with sun spot activity and solar flares and how can puny man possibly compete with the sun’s enormous power to change the climate. Each side backs their claims up with data and statistical analysis.

I won a prize at school once in my economics class. We had to invest £1000, hypothetically, on the stock market over a period of two months. I did very well and was given a little book called “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff. Fascinating and if you ever read it you will never take any statistical data as evidence of anything ever again. I’d all but forgotten about the book but it came back to me the day I was interviewing a market research company about a piece of research I was commissioning for my employer. They asked me what result I would like them to find. I was astonished. I had naively thought that they would go out and find out if what we were doing was effective, not find evidence that it was and ignore evidence that it wasn’t.

So here’s where we come to the nub of my dilemma. I simply don’t know who to believe. If I say I don’t believe Man is responsible for global warming and hence climate change, against current thinking at the IPCC, I am labelled a Climate Sceptic, an unbeliever, more reviled than a rabid dog. But if I say I believe, I’m ignoring the weight of evidence against man’s responsibility.

I know the climate is changing, I’ve seen it. What no one has managed to do is convince me beyond reasonable doubt why it’s changing.

Climate Change Sceptic…Me? No, I’m a Cause Sceptic.

Below I list just four links to sites that support both views. There are many many more.



www.cru.uea.ac.uk
www.climatescienceinternational.org
http://icecap.us/index.php/go/about-us
www.ipcc.ch


ABOUT RICHARD COLE

I live in Suffolk, England with my family. After teaching for years I ended up in a high octane job in London advising the UK government on educational stuff. I retired early to pursue my writing career. Now, I write and ride a ridiculously large motor cycle, although not at the same time.

more about richard cole

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COMMENTS

tim lockwood
3.26.10 @ 4:05a

When I was growing up, we heard more about the coming of the "new Ice Age" and the threat of nuclear winter (if the crazy Russians decided to turn loose on us over some perceived slight). When it came to pollutants, we learned that they were indeed bad, but only because they could cause health problems, not because of any possible effect on the climate.

It's only been in the last ten to fifteen years or so that I've heard anything about climate change (or global warming, as it used to be called). I tend to think the science is still evolving on this one; not wrong, mind you, just evolving. I also think there are political agendas involved, at all points along the political spectrum, to recognize the current data as definitive proof of a pet belief. Anecdotal evidence and scientific data both confirm that something is happening; it just isn't clear why, as you pointed out.

That said, even if it were somehow true that man couldn't possibly have any effect on his climate, it still doesn't somehow make dumping pollutants into the sky any better (as I've heard some individuals try to make the case).

adam kraemer
3.26.10 @ 11:51a

I obvserved to a friend a couple weeks ago that the environmental scientists did themselves no favors with the term "Global Warming," in light of the fact that climate change leads to extreme temperatures at both ends of the seasonal spectrum.

Because now it looks as though they're playing catch-up:
"You said temperatures everywhere would rise, but this January was the coldest in 50 years!"
"Er ... yeah ... extreme cold ... um ... is another effect ... uh .. as well."

I'm not saying I don't believe them, but it did give the skeptics (that's American, with a "k") quite a bit of fodder.

sandra thompson
3.27.10 @ 8:07a

I make a leap of faith when I believe my liberal politics is correct and the conservatives are wrong, so I'm making a leap of faith and saying that even if nobody caused climate change it's still best to rid oourselves of foreign oil, stop making people sick with air and water pollution, and do things which will help us try to avoid extinctions of our fellow species. I'd say stop eating horses and start riding one to work, except most of us don't have the facilities to house a horse, and there's no horse lane on any of our freeways. (Horse lovers everywhere are now free so say: sigh.)

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