Climate change: Sceptics fiddle while the planet burns

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Kathy Maskell

Walker Institute for Climate System Research

University of Reading


■ Robin McKie’s article contains some sensible ideas – well, one at least: the abolition or serious rejigging of the IPCC. This latest blunder is not the only one to discredit the organisation. There is also evidence that the summaries for policy-makers do not always reflect the real scientific findings when these fail to support the widely held acceptance of manmade global warming.

It would seem that the sceptics are charged with having to prove that the consensus is wrong. Surely it is for those who hypothesise – in this instance, that there is a direct link between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and global warming – to demonstrate that it is true.

Michael Robinson

North Creake, Norfolk


■ It must be remembered that global warming is not an issue of opinion. It is solely about the quantum mechanical interactions between radiation and molecules in the atmosphere and the knock-on effects this has. Unlike questions such as the best policy for dealing with the recession, where two sides could in theory ague for all eternity, with climate change only one side can be correct. We just don’t yet know which side is correct. As climate change deniers have failed to produce a peer-reviewed body of evidence pointing to a mechanism that would negate the impact of our emissions, caution would seem to be sensible.

David Coley

Senior research fellow

Centre for Energy and the Environment

School of Physics, Exeter


■ A consequence of the intense public debate surrounding the Copenhagen conference has been a widening of the gap between those who accept that humans are affecting the climate system and those who do not. Yet the case that climate change is real and unwise is unchanged: greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warm the surface zone we inhabit. Measurements show that human industry and agriculture have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air by nearly 40%.

The cost of transforming world society to maintain prosperity and improve equity in a way that is sustainable and reduces the climate risk is a tough challenge. People are key to addressing this challenge, but to act, people must be convinced that there is a problem and that it is a priority.

Professor Chris Rapley

Director of the Science Museum and professor of climate science, University College London, London WC1


■ Despite the well co-ordinated political campaigns by “sceptics” against the IPCC, it remains the most authoritative source of information about the causes and consequences of climate change. Yet every error in its last report is now being portrayed as undermining the evidence that greenhouse gases are driving climate change. Perhaps it is time that the claims of the professional climate change “sceptics” are put to the same test.

Bob Ward

Policy and communications director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

London WC2