Theory versus Fact on Climate Change

Howard Curnow

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This piece appeared in the Methodist Recorder, 5 Oct 18, and is republished here by permission. There are minor edits for clarity where necessary.

Editor's note
The bias of the BBC in covering anything to do with 'Climate Change' is well-known. Howard Curnow, a familiar figure here, corrects some common misconceptions.

The 'Recorder Comment' of September 21 on exteme weather and the impact of global warming included reference to a note issued to the staff by the BBC head of news and current affairs. Part of that note said:

'To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday'.

Fair enough, but this statement, it seems, was prompted by an interview with Lord Lawson on the 'Today' programme. He may be sceptical of many of the claims based on the IPCC consensus view of anthropogenic global warming, but he does not deserve to be described as 'an outright denier of climate change'.

The 'Recorder Comment' makes reference to "deniers" such as Nigel Lawson. Neither the BBC nor the Methodist Recorder can be unaware of the fact that, in this context, "denier" is a term which is intended by some to suggest a parallel with Holocaust denial.

It does not matter how many scientists assert that extreme weather conditions have all been caused by global warming, or climate change, or that the global warming (climate change) is caused by the carbon dioxide resulting from the burning of fossil fuels; this remains a theory, not a proven fact.

The theory developed from two facts: carbon dioxide is a so-called greenhouse gas and over the last quarter of the 20th century there seemed to be a good correlation between the increase in carbon dioxide concentration and the global temperature.

However, it needs to be said again and again that correlation does not mean causation, and over the whole of the 20th century, the correlation just is not there.

I know that to some to question AGW orthodoxy is akin to heresy, but there are many very real questions we ought to be asking before we cover the country with wind turbines and solar panels.

For instance, the Paris Agreement had as its aim to keep global temperatures within two degrees (and preferably 1.5 degrees) of "pre-industrial temperatures". But what does that mean? Was the world's temperature at a steady level before the industrial revolution? And if it wasn't, which pre-industrial temperature is thought to be desirable, and why?

And what is the real evidence, as opposed to subjective impressions, that extreme weather events are getting more common or more extreme?

I do not think that Lord Lawson is an "outright denier of climate change"; nor am I, and human beings have certainlychanged the climate (at least locally) at times by such activities as de-forestation and creating large lakes. However, to me it strains credulity to believe that over the last 50 years all the natural cycles which influence climate have suddenly been overwhelmed by the increase in carbon dioxide.



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