Watts Up With That (WUWT) has a new post called it’s official: we’re all climate skeptics now. I assume that they mean skeptic in the sense “we’re all skeptical of the results of climate science”, rather than skeptic in some more general sense.
So, what’s the big story? Well, Tim Yeo, the Tory party MP who is also chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, has apparently claimed that it could all be due to natural variations. Okay, so someone who has – I believe – a degree in history has suggested that it might be all due to natural variations and suddenly we’re all skeptics. Not some big new science results, a Tory MP who has in the past accepted the scientific evidence for climate change might now have changed his mind. Not all that surprising, maybe. Having said that, his own website claims that my views have remained the same for over two decades and that “the move to a low carbon economy is not just right environmentally but also in our economic interest.” So, no change then really.
I was going to say one other thing about this whole “natural variation” thing. The way it’s often used by climate skeptics suggests that what they mean is something that we don’t yet understand, rather than something that we do understand but that is unrelated to human activities. Here’s where I have an issue with the term. Our climate might be complicated but everything has to obey the basic laws of physics. There isn’t some kind of “magic” natural variation that just causes the climate to change without us having any ability to understand or comprehend how this process works. This is the problem with the whole “natural variation” idea. What is it? We have an immense amount of data today. We have detailed understand of the physics and chemistry associated with our climate. We can’t find an explanation for what we observe that doesn’t include the influence of CO2 in the atmosphere. What we observed is inconsistent with it being unrelated to the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. There is no known natural process that can explain what is currently happening.
It is possible that our current understanding could turn out to be wrong, but until someone can find a viable alternative, the scientific evidence suggests that the excess CO2 in our atmosphere is playing a significant role in global warming. Just because people would like it to be something else is not a good enough reason to seriously consider that it might be.