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expert reaction to report on climate change by European Foundation stating that global warming is natural

The report, by the eurosceptic political campaign organisation the European Foundation, offered ‘100 reasons’ why anthropogenic climate change is a myth – very few, if any, of them based on sound science.

 

Dr Chris Huntingford, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said:

“Intense scrutiny of all available long-term temperature records, combined with current understanding of how the climate system operates, provides compelling evidence that the current rate of warming is not a natural cycle. If emissions continue at current rates, then global warming is expected to continue and we might reach a situation where dangerous change occurs to our environment. Further global warming could have major impacts on both water and food security for many regions of the world.

“Climate researchers are aware of the natural cycles in the system, but what we are witnessing at the moment is different, and almost certainly attributable to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If negotiations fail to develop a plan for reducing emissions, there is a real chance we leave a very damaged climate system for future generations.”

 

Dr David Humphreys, Senior Lecturer in Environment at The Open University, said:

“While it is true that the Earth’s climate has always changed, and there is no such thing as a ‘natural steady state’ climate, that does not entitle anyone to conclude that climate change since the start of the Industrial Revolution must, therefore, be the result solely of natural causes. Similarly, merely because there have been significant anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses over the last 250 years is not, on its own, sufficient to enable anyone to conclude that recent changes in the Earth’s climate are, therefore, the result of human activity.

“To answer the question of whether recent changes to the climate are primarily ‘natural’ background changes that would have happened anyway, or the result of human interference, scientists have turned to modelling. All climate models are arriving at very similar conclusions: first, temperature changes over the last two and a half centuries can only be explained if anthropogenic emissions are included and, second, the Earth’s climate will warm further this century, possibly catastrophically so. There are admittedly some uncertainties in climate modelling, for example, on the speed and scale of change and on the various tipping points in the Earth’s system, uncertainties that deniers have been quick to seize on as ‘evidence’ that there is no scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. But only a very small minority of scientists disagree with the central thesis; that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses are driving recent climate change, and will continue to do so.”

 

Dr Vincent Gauci, Lecturer in Earth Systems and Ecosystems Science, said:

“Without measurements there would be no evidence of climate change, nothing against which to gauge whether a change has occurred, natural or otherwise. Records show that there are big natural changes over a range of time scales that are closely related to observable and predictable changes in Earth’s orbit around the sun and are associated with the atmospheric content of greenhouses gases (as recorded in ice core bubbles). So climate change IS real.

“Recent measured increases in temperature can be placed against this historical context of natural cycles to see if the changes fit the trend. They don’t. In fact they deviate markedly from these well established cycles. And this is where models come in. Climate models recreate Earth’s climate in a computer from the ground up, incorporating ocean currents, many layers within the atmosphere, the composition of the atmosphere. These models create numerical simulations of climate over time. To see how well they work you can compare them against measurements – recent and ancient. The results are rather good and recent climate warming can only be recreated in the models if the huge emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane from human activity are included in simulations.

“All this evidence tells us that human caused climate change is taking place. The evidence base is large, different research groups show similar results using different models – there really is a scientific consensus.”

 

Dr Philippe Blondel, Head of the Remote Sensing Laboratory at the University of Bath, said:

“Climate change is really occurring. I have seen it in the Arctic, when we were on a boat and the map said we should be on a glacier. Just flying over Greenland during transatlantic flights, one can see land that was not visible just a few years ago. Glaciers are melting in Iceland, they are melting in Svalbard, and they are melting the world over (that is what the NASA GLIMS project has been mapping for the last years).

“Many of the analyses saying that climate change is not occurring very fast forget the role of the oceans, acting as buffer of any changes. They absorb heat changes, they absorb some chemicals (hence ocean acidification now), but they will not absorb it forever.

“And that is why we need to act now.”

 

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