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One comment.

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( UK ) on August 10, 1999 at 15:16:16:

In Reply to: For comment by the resident Greens...and others. posted by borg on August 10, 1999 at 14:27:18:

: What about this?

: Can so many "experts" be wrong?

Yes. Exactly how much of the meteorological and earth science community do you think that represents, Borg? 2%? 3%?

I'm not saying that there isn't a debate going on about whether global warming is taking place; but the majority conclusion is that it is; which is the reason that U.N. bodies such as the World Meteorological Organisation and the IPCC say as much in press releases.

Take, for example, a graph of temperature against year; taken from the front cover of the 1998 WMO climate report (a year after the link you gave, Borg.);

We *know* the greenhouse effect exists as a phenomenon; we've observed it many times both here and on Venus; that much is not under dispute. The crunch question is whether humans can influence the climate.

If it were merely a question of lining up experts, there's a list here of over 100 Nobel laureates calling for action to stop global warming. But that's a sloppy way of arguing; it's a deus ex machina method, rather than actual examination of the data involved.

(I could, for example, point out that half the experts in that Leipzig declaration are noted opponents of the Greenhouse theory; some, like Fred Singer, are funded directly by oil companies (It's also worth noting that Singer's major objection to the greenhouse effect (satellite data) was found to be invalid due to his inadequate allowance for experimental error (the satellite's position was misread, leading to inaccurate data)). It's as if all the existing opponents of the greenhouse theory met up to sign a piece of paper; it provides a nice long list of impressive names, but doesn't actually reflect the true consensus, as the sample of scientists is skewed to begin with.

You don't have to be stupid to be wrong, either; Rutherford said that it was impossible to obtain power from splitting the atom; Einstein couldn't accept the random nature of the cosmos; both of them were wrong (as far as the evidence goes).

From looking at things like plankton and coral levels in the Pacific, you can observe variations in temperature at sea level very accurately. Ditto ice cores and seasonal variation in polar ice caps, which are measured by satellites. There's evidence in the natural world, too; the Alaskan salmon run shows signs of faltering as the temperature increases.

There are opponents to the Greenhouse theory. Of course there are; well and good; it's part of the scientific debate. However, their ideas are being used by right-wing free-marketeers as an excuse not to clean up after themselves; the oil companies are funding people who say that the oil industry isn't causing climate change; and funding their airtime. The best phrase to describe the greenhouse sceptics is "a small but vocal minority". And yes, they can be as wrong as the next person.


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