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June 30, 2005

Is global warming happening?

Posted by Richard D. North

Richard D. North - the author of Rich is Beautiful: A Very Personal Defence of Mass Affluence - continues his series on G8 and Global Warming: G8 Gleneagles Fiasco: a sceptic's account of global warming and its humbugs.

Is global warming happening?
The world is warmer, and many climatologists believe that the evidence is now overwhelming that man is the main cause. There is a respectable body of opinion which suggests that natural effects are at work to some extent, though.

There is a vast range of opinion as to the effects of any degree of global warming (GW). The where, when and severity of effects really is much disputed.

There is an argument that all climate change is, well, changeful: that climate events will be more severe and variable. (Energy in, wildness out…. .) This flows into an argument that the poor are vulnerable to change, almost whatever it is. Quite how that squares with what may be an improvement in climate for some poor people is less clear.

On predictions of sea level rise, storminess, droughtiness, wetness, one sees a very wide range of prediction.

One way into this is to see the discussion of the effects of GW, so far.

What are the effects so far?
Bits of the Arctic and the Antarctic are warmer than they have usually been, and some are colder. Yet others are about the same. Sea levels have been rising for millennia, and do not seem to be rising any faster than usual. Hurricanes, monsoons, droughts and storms all seem to be fairly normal. Some bits of America are warmer than usual, others are colder. Some bits of Europe have summers which are a good bit hotter than usual. (In Britain, things seem warmer. Frosts have been less severe, spring arrives a little early.)

Some people say that these things are signs of a warmer world, or are consistent with a warmer world. Others say that they are surprisingly normal, and that GW has yet to kick in as it will.

What does the present climate say about the future?
Some (a reviled minority) say all this normality is a sign that even with a warmer world, normality will continue to be the norm. Others say that changes can be quite big but not necessarily dire. The majority says that even the changes we have already seen are a disturbing harbinger of much worse to come.

How urgent is action in Britain?
It is routinely stated by officialdom that Britain is seeing, or will soon see, important and bad changes which are worth averting. But when one looks at the details, there seems remarkably little that can be done. Take one of the worst: coastal erosion. The same document which said that this was serious, increasing and a result of global warming also said (deep in the text, for unpicking by the diligent) that only a quarter of the predicted bad news could be averted by even very energetic worldwide success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So here was a peculiar rallying cry. It said: if all the world makes the large adjustments that might reduce man-made climate change, most of the coastal damage we expect to see will carry on anyway. That's because most of Britain's coastal erosion has to do with long-term changes in sea-level which have nothing to do with climate change. This is just as well, since it is deeply implausible that the world will make the scale of adjustments the global warming alarmists propose.

As for wildlife species in the UK: there will be winners and losers, losses and gains. But then, change is normal, even if this change is a bit faster. Besides, very small adjustments in agricultural practices could massively enhance the prospects for whatever species – including new arrivals from the south – we do have.

As to our farmers: there seems little serious alarm that they cannot adjust to and thrive alongside a warmer world.

Richard D. North is the author of Rich is Beautiful: A Very Personal Defence of Mass Affluence.


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In your article you said that Hurricanes are about the same as usual. This is an error. According to Time magazine, in the past 35 years category 4 and 5 hurricanes have doubled in number while windspeed and duration of these storms has increased 50 percent. You also say that "bits" of the antarctic are melting away. Lets put this in perspective a little here. 53 cubic miles of Greenland melted last year compared to 22 cubic miles in 1996 (also according to Time magazine). That is more than double in less than a decade. One cubic mile is 5 times the water that Los Angeles uses in a year. I would hesitate to call that bits I would call it small nations, states, something at least somewhat more fitting. You make it sound like they are melting like an icecube in a fridge.

Posted by: tim slager at October 29, 2006 06:11 AM
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I think that the effects of global warming are going to be staggering. If Britain is going to be mostly covered over with water in 20 years, what is there left for us Britons but to move abroad. Iff all the islands are going to be flooded where are we going to go on holiday. Although i think that is the very least on our minds, it's still worth thinking about. What are we leaving our grand-children? It is a very terrifying thought that we are leaving them in turmoil to lead a life in terror that the very world in which we live in is going to be eventually destroyed by the effects of human beings! I have considered the fact that natural causes are not helping the situation, but the most we could do, even if it means banning cars and fuel supported vehicles, the most this could do is slow the process down. It's not going to stop, and it will happen eventually. I think people need to open their eyes and realise the consequences of our actions, that our Earth is getting destroyed! Something, even if is very little, needs to be done to help people realise that there isn't going to be much land left in small countries and islands are going to be flooded completely. The few land that is not going to suffer the rising sea levels, is going to get overcrowded with the amount of people moving to get away from the floods.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, i just want more poeple to realise the damage they have done and that they are killing this Earth,
Thank you.

Posted by: Chloe at October 17, 2007 01:16 PM
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I think global warming doesn't matter as it shall not affect me.

Posted by: Charles Adolphy at November 18, 2009 04:49 PM
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