Apparently we’re all climate skeptics now!

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.

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6 Responses to Apparently we’re all climate skeptics now!

  1. Rachel says:

    Thanks for the link to the Tim Yeo’s site. Yet another misquote/misrepresentation in mainstream media. How do they get away with it?

  2. If you listen to his actual interview on the Telegraph, it’s not too bad a representation although he does go on to say that it prudent to consider that the warming is due to CO2 and hence it would be sensible to look at our energy usage and to consider renewables. I don’t know who he was talking to though, so maybe he was responding in a way that seemed more suitable for the audience he was addressing.

  3. Rachel says:

    I haven’t listened to it, but a radio interview isn’t necessarily trustworthy. They can edit it in such a way to change the overall meaning. I’m not saying that this is what they’ve done but his own webpage seems to suggest that they got it wrong. Have you watched potholer’s Media – tricks of the trade? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07NMglQX6gE&list=PL82yk73N8eoUOEuYlNE54zjPypReGbqw6

  4. That’s certainly a good point. I haven’t seen that particular potholer video. I shall have a look, thanks.

  5. BBD says:

    I woz misrepresented says Yeo:

    “I’ve not changed my view by even the smallest iota,” he said. “I’m completely committed to the view that it is highly probable that the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, which we know is the direct result of human activity… is causing changes in the climate. Therefore, we should act to address it much more urgently than we are doing.”

    He added that the comments quoted in the Telegraph and subsequently released as an audio file were taken from a 45 minute question and answer session, in which he covered a wide range of topics.

    “Someone thought they were going to be rather clever and make me say I said it was possible [that climate change is caused by natural cycles],” he explained.

    “Well the answer is yes it is possible, I’ve never denied the fact. But I don’t think that’s any reason not to take action about the human effects.”

  6. Marco says:

    As I sometimes note: anything is possible. But is it likely?

    It is very much possible I win a million in a lottery next week. I wish it were also likely!

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