Ever since the possibility that climate change and global warming was occurring, and that its effects could be devastating for our environment and societies across the world, there have been the sceptics. That’s no bad thing. We should always be sceptical of any new theories or scientific “discoveries” until such time that the evidence to back it is proven and has been subject to serious scrutiny and verification.
The country that had more than its fair share of sceptics was the United States – with huge vested commercial and political interests in denying global warming and its causes - not least because the evidence was suggesting that the current trajectory of the United States on the use of carbon fuels (the main cause of global warming) was completely unsustainable, as well as sending all the wrong messages to other countries, such as India and China, who were starting along the same developmental road. The Unites States was also one of the most reluctant countries to want to join with other countries to ensure a global response to the threat.
However, what is now clear is that the original assumptions have proven correct - that global warming and climate change are undoubtedly occurring; but current scientific advice now goes further: its effects may well be quicker and more devastating than was originally forecast.
This global consensus amongst leading scientists was reflected recently in the United States itself. A collection of 1700 leading US scientist called on the US government to take a lead in the fight against global warming. They spoke of the “unprecedented and unanticipated” effects of global warming and called for an immediate reduction in US carbon emissions. Amongst these scientists were six Nobel prize-winners, 30 members of the US Academy of Sciences and over 100 scientists from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
This letter is the latest indication that there is now a consensus amongst scientist on this issue, even in the US - the bastion of scepticism! The argument has now firmly shifted from one of whether global warming is occurring and what is causing it, to what needs to be done to stop it and how long have we got before it’s too late!
Leon Lederman, a Nobel prize-winning physicist said “Physicists tend to be supercritical of strong conclusions, but the data on global warming now indicates the conclusions (to halve greenhouse emissions by half by 2050, as proposed recently by G8 Environment Ministers) are not nearly strong enough”.
By 2050 I, personally, will be dead; but what will the future hold for my children and any children they may have? Hopeful it’s not too late for politicians at all levels (local, national and global) to act; the scientists can be commended for doing their job – the scientific evidence is now clear!