Contributions such as last week’s excellent letters from Harry Kennard and Barry M Jones are part of the essential debate on climate change.
I certainly do not have sufficient background on the subject to pose as an expert on the subject. The prudent course of action for the concerned citizen is then to weigh up the balance of evidence presented by professional bodies to help us work out the way forward on modifying our individual and collective behaviour.
That is why the Met Office website on climate change is so helpful and where they make several key points. I quote from their summary:-
‘There’s a wide range of evidence which indicates our climate is warming: Increasing temperatures at the surface, above the surface, and in the depths of the ocean; changes in rainfall patterns; changes in nature; sea-level rise; melting glaciers; shrinking ice-sheets.’
In the eyes of the Met Office then, climate change risk is therefore real. We may emphasise particular phenomena to make our counter-argument (Harry Kennard and Barry M Jones) and defects in our methods of predicting future effects. We can also discuss what is the best way to modify our behaviour (Barry M Jones).
The balance of these modifications is rightly the stuff of serious political debate because climate change is so difficult to address. Our livelihoods and entire economies in many cases are built on activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions.
Given the balance of expert opinion my contention is that we have to accept climate change as real while still discussing the importance of each detail. There are both natural and man-made causes but we have to live with the uncomfortable results. In principle we can then do a lot about the man-made side of the equation.
Barry M Jones indeed identifies some of the climate change drivers. Given these and other drivers, we need, cynical or no, to plan our future whilst working on our imperfect forecasting tools to improve our predictions. Cynicism at the efforts of politicians and other interest groups is currently at an all-time high in this country but we should still not lose sight of our long term goal of a safe and harmonious existence on this planet for our grandchildren.
Mike Slavin, Rye Harbour.