Thursday, 23 July 2009

Climate change Thursday #1

The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference begins on December 7th. In the run up to that every Thursday on this blog will cover an aspect of the climate change issue: the facts, the politics, the debates, the controversy. This feature will be called Climate change Thursday. Why Thursday? Because today I'm in in the mood to kick this off and today is Thursday.

So the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference is a motivation for this column. The bigger motivation is the utter nonsense peddled by climate change deniers. If you want a sample of the arguments, please see the comments in response to my piece which covers climate change on LabourList a couple of weeks ago.

We start off with James Hansen whose research into atmospheric conditions on Venus and the impact of volcanic activity on the climate led him into the refined science of modeling the earth's climate. His testimony before a Senate committee in 1988 first brought the notion that the earth was warming to significant attention. His models have proven to be remarkably accurate.

He even factored in what might happen if there was a major disruptive volcanic event (which cools the earth's atmosphere for a years or so). Randomly, he placed the event at 1995. It actually happened in 1991- Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. Its impact was exactly as James Hansen had predicted- the model was looking good. His predictions- the middle scenario he used- have strongly been matched by observed climate change.

So James Hansen's contribution is massive. He is under no doubt that man-made factors now outweigh any natural factors in explaining climate change. He makes the point that climate change is a cumulative process so it's historical activity that is important. And guess what? This makes the UK one of the largest contributors to climate change if not the largest. So we, as the earliest industrial power, have a responsibility to act. We are beginning to but we must keep on striving more and more.

This feature has been made possible by Peter Sinclair's Climate Change Crock of the Week series (which he posts as greenman3610) which is available on YouTube. In turn, he relies very heavily on NASA data. Yes, NASA. You know, the cleverest people in the world. Subscribe and watch the videos but they'll all be featuring on here in coming weeks. Here is his video on the career of James Hansen.

Oh, if there's anything you feel I should link to: blogs, reports, videos, outrageous claims, please let me know. Hopefully, the Climate change Thursday feature can build up a good stock of material on the environment in one place.

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