Matt Ridley brings some objectivity to an issue where it is sorely lacking- Climate Change
It is a long post and is a compilation of a few of his articles:
The climate change debate has been polarized into a simple dichotomy. Either global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous,” as Pres. Barack Obama thinks, or it’s a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thinks. But there is a third possibility: that it is real, man-made and not dangerous, at least not for a long time.
This “lukewarm” option has been boosted by recent climate research, and if it is right, current policies may do more harm than good. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other bodies agree that the rush to grow biofuels, justified as a decarbonization measure, has raised food prices and contributed to rainforest destruction. Since 2013 aid agencies such as the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have restricted funding for building fossil-fuel plants in Asia and Africa; that has slowed progress in bringing electricity to the one billion people who live without it and the four million who die each year from the effects of cooking over wood fires.
It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than one-half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global warming scare began in earnest. Even with this year’s El Nino-boosted warmth threatening to break records, the world is barely half a degree warmer than it was about 35 years ago (the surface data sets say nearly 0.6 degrees, the satellite data sets about 0.4 degrees of warming since 1979). Also, it is increasingly clear that the planet was significantly warmer than today several times during the last 10,000 years. [An excellent source of charts and data on climate is at: http://www.climate4you.com]
Nor can it be the consequences of this recent temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise – about a foot per century – with no sign of recent acceleration.
Perhaps it’s the predictions that worry the world leaders, then. Here, as we are often told by journalists, the science is “settled” and there is no debate. But scientists disagree: they say there is great uncertainty, and they reflected this in their fifth and latest assessment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It projects that temperatures are likely to be anything from 1.5C to 4.5C degrees warmer by the latter part of the century – that is to say, anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful.
The 40,000 people meeting in Paris over the next ten days are committed to the view that the weather is certain to do something nasty towards the end of this century unless we cut emissions. In this they are out of line with scientists. A survey of the members of the American Meteorological Society in 2012 found that only 52% agree that climate change is mostly man-made, and as to its being very harmful if unchecked, only 34% of AMS members agree. The rest said they think it will be either not harmful or not very harmful.