EXPLODING THE MYTHS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
MYTH The world is continually getting warmer.
TRUTH Official Met Office data shows no statistically significant global temperature rise since January 1997. The fact was confirmed last week by Raj Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Many scientists say this means forecasts of how much warmer the world will be by 2100 must be revised downwards. Pachauri disagreed: for him to be convinced, the ‘pause’ would have to last 30 years.
MYTH Global warming is already causing extreme weather.
TRUTH If anything, weather has become less, not more extreme in the past 50 years. Professor Roger Pielke Jr of Colorado University – no climate sceptic – last week said that the past seven years had been the longest period ever recorded without a Category 3 or stronger hurricane hitting America, and that drought has decreased since the mid-20th Century. The IPCC admits there is no evidence that global warming has caused more storms in the tropics.
MYTH If we don’t take swift, drastic action to cut CO2 emissions, the world will soon become uninhabitable
TRUTH The ‘pause’ in rising temperatures, along with new research into the decline in the sun’s output and other natural factors, is leading many scientists to lower estimates of how fast carbon dioxide warms the world. Until now, the IPCC has suggested that doubling CO2 causes a worrying increase of 3.5C, but many experts say it is about 1.7C. The computer models still say the world will be at least 2C warmer by the end of the century, but they failed to predict the pause.
MYTH We’ve got to do our bit, even if it hurts. If we cut emissions, the rest of the world will follow.
TRUTH The fiasco of the 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen proved that China, India, Brazil and other fast-growing nations are simply not prepared to make any binding commitments to reduce their emissions. However, by cutting our own ever more deeply, all we do is increase the already rocketing price of our energy and so drive jobs abroad – while making almost no difference to world CO2 levels.
MYTH The faster we cut carbon in our power generation, the more prosperous we will be.
TRUTH We face declining energy capacity, while the Government targets on 2030 emissions would mean few firms will be willing to invest in the one proven type of power source – gas – that can fill the gap relatively cheaply. Instead of ‘green growth’, we face years of impoverished stagnation, while industry flees Britain and our sky-high energy prices.
MYTH The Arctic is going to be ice-free in summer in a few years.
TRUTH Although last summer saw a return to the relatively low levels of ice seen in 2007, the growth of Arctic winter ice this year is the fastest on record. Canadian archaeologists have been finding evidence the ice cover shrank to half its current extent during a warm period 7,000 years ago – but never vanished entirely.