The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

International Scaremongering

"Meeting the Challenge", the report of International Climate Change Taskforce paints an unbearably gloomy picture of what will happen to the world if we don't mend our ways.

We need to keep CO2 concentrations below 400 parts per million (current level 379 - perilously close) to make it probable that temperatures will rise only 2 degrees C above 1850 levels. If we fail, all kinds of things could go wrong. It is the "tipping point". We risk the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) melting and global sea-levels rising by 10 metres. How inconvenient!

How are things going at the moment in Antarctica? Last time I heard the WAIS was thickening. No doubt this has its own attendant dangers but exactly opposite to those highlighted by the taskforce.


I am aware that the global climate is a vastly complex non-linear system, which allows for the possiblity of chaotic change, but its very complexity makes it difficult to predict the tipping points (if any). The "400 parts per million" and the "2 degrees C" may be useful figures to grab headlines, especially as they seem very close, but, though they have the distinguished imprimatur of the Rt Hon Stephen Byers (no less), it would surely be wise to treat them as highly conjectural and to look for more concrete evidence of disastrous man-made climate change before disrupting the global economy.

UPDATE

For the record, and to calm any fears about the imminent melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, here is the mean annual temperature record at the South Pole since 1957.

This is more like it.

More of the Antarctic temperature record courtesty of the Junkman.

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