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expert reaction to today’s statements by the World Meteorological Organisation and the UK Met Office

With crucial climate talks in Copenhagen under way, the WMO and Met Office have released data showing that the previous decade was the warmest year on record.

 

Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said:

“The announcements today emphasise the broader picture of a warming planet. Individual years can be warmer or colder than the last, just like individual days. However when we look at decades the warming trend is striking. Each decade since the 1950s has been warmer than the previous one. The ‘noughties’ stand out as being by far the warmest decade since temperatures were first measured.”

 

Prof Mark Maslin, Director of the UCL Environment Institute, said:

“The weight of scientific evidence for manmade climate change is now irrefutable. Data from two of the world’s most respected scientific organisations, the Met office and WMO, show that this is the warmest decade that humanity has ever recorded and that 2009 is the fifth warmest year on record. Combine this data with scientific evidence collected from satellites showing the retreat of arctic sea ice, the retreat of nearly all the world’s glaciers and even the evidence from the great British public that spring is now arriving two weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago, and climate change is shown to be incontrovertible. It is now up to the negotiators and politicians at Copenhagen to best decide how we manage climate change and protect their people.”

 

Prof James Crabbe, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Bedfordshire, said:

“These are important statements, in accord with modelling studies, and reflect the global situation. Such modelling shows that if greenhouse gases are not limited very significantly, then coral reef ecosystems will disappear by the end of the century. This will have major impacts, not just on the billion people who rely on the reefs for their day to day livelihoods, but on us all.

“It is crucial for marine and terrestrial ecosystems that sharing of global resources to tackle climate change is agreed in Copenhagen.”

 

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

“At the very heart of the global warming issue are basic rules of physics, which tell us that as levels of greenhouse gases increase, they interact with the global energy balance of the planet so as to make it warmer. That the last decade is the warmest on record is in full agreement with what the fundamental science is telling us.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that, should such warming continue in to the future, we could reach a situation where dangerous and irreversible change occurs to the climate system. This would have serious repercussions, not least affecting food and water security for many regions of the world.”

 

Dr Simon Harrison, Chair of the IET Energy Sector Panel, said:

“Care needs to be taken looking at just the last ten years’ data in something as complex as climate change, but this data reinforces arguments that climate change is real and the energy sector needs to respond. Delivery of a low carbon energy system in the UK and around the world is a pressing priority and an immense challenge. We will also need to take seriously the need to adapt energy infrastructure to deal with more extreme and uncertain weather. Rising to these challenges will create fabulous opportunities for rewarding careers in engineering, with a real chance to make a difference to peoples’ lives everywhere.”

 

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