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« Muslim weather | Main | The end of the enlightenment »
Saturday
Mar292008

More scientists speak out against global warming hysteria

Professor Mike Hulme is a climatologist who heads the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia. He seems to have been starting to speak out against climate change hysteria, and he's put a personal statement up on his website outlining his views.

In recent months I have been chastised for some of my pronouncements on climate change. I have spoken out against the use of exaggerated language in the description of climate change risks; I have spoken about the limits and fragility of scientific knowledge; I have suggested that we should focus on nearer-term policy goals to improve human welfare rather than be so pre-occupied with one large longer-term goal of global climate management. As a consequence I have been accused of burying my head ostrich like in the sand; of undermining the power of science; of lacking passion about ‘solving’ the ‘problem’ of climate change.

This treatment, as anyone who has ever questioned the "consensus" knows, is actually rather reasonable compared to what some have had to put up with.

The rest of the statement sets out his views in more detail - the subheadings give a flavour of where he stands:

  • Climate change is a relative risk, not an absolute one
  • Climate risks are serious, and we should seek to minimise them
  • Our world has huge unmet development needs
  • Our current energy portfolio is not sustainable
  • Massive and deliberate geo-engineering of the planet is a dubious practice

OK, so there's things to disagree with here, but it's a much more reasonable starting position than the standard "We're aaaall doooomed!!!" which most other commentators adopt. It's also amazing to note how similar this position is to that of Bjorn Lomborg who has been regularly smeared because of his views.

Hulme and some other scientists also have a paper published in Natural Hazards Review (subscription only, so no link) advocating adaptation rather than the economic lunacy that governments around the world have opted for. Predictably this is getting little or no coverage from the mainstream media - the only UK outfit to pick up on it so far is the Telegraph.

The world would be better off adapting to the consequences of climate change rather than trying to fight the causes, according to scientists.[...]

Their controversial view, which they accept will lead to them being branded as "the new pariahs of global warming", is that the world would be better off fighting the consequences of climate change - hunger, storm damage and disease - rather than spending billions of pounds trying to stabilise CO2 emissions across the planet.

Is the tide turning, I wonder?

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Reader Comments (10)

It was about this time last year Mike Hulme was promoting "post normal science".
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/mar/14/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange
Mar 29, 2008 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKit
I remember it. He has spoken out about over-egging the case for global warming before though, so it may be that he's not as loony as one might have thought.
Mar 30, 2008 at 9:25 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Here's a link to Dr Hulme's anti-hysteria's thoughts, in May 2007

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6655449.stm

"Climate messages are 'off target'
By Pallab Ghosh
BBC science correspondent

Alarmist messages about global warming are counter-productive, the head of a leading climate research centre says. [...]"
Mar 31, 2008 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito
Maurizio

I posted something about Dr Hulme's comments at the time. His comments were rather unconvincing to me at the time because the Tyndall Centre he leads was continuing to put out alarmist messages while he was making his pronouncements.

It is certainly, however, good news that he continues to say these things.
Mar 31, 2008 at 7:15 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
One thing that frightens me is seeing people with no scientific background talking about "climate issues".

One of the worst is the BBC - their climate correspondent has a degree in .... english.

Only yesterday their report on "earth hour" said that somewhere the earth hour had saved 750 Mega Watts of energy which had reduced CO2 by xxx. (For the unscientific a Mega Watt is NOT a unit of energy - in other words the report was rubbish)

This lack of science background allows these people to believe in "proof by majority voting", "proof by consensus:" and even "proof by repetition".
Apr 1, 2008 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes
Great Blog, BTW :)
Apr 1, 2008 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes
Thanks Jack. I did a posting on the qualifications of MSM environment correspondents, and its just as you say. At the BBC, I think there are a couple of exceptions, but the majority have backgrounds in the humanities. It explains a lot, doesn't it?
Apr 1, 2008 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
I am not a climatologist, nor do I play one on TV. I'm a retired gambler -- I mean stockbroker -- so I made a career of attempting to spot trends early.

To answer your question "Is the tide turning?" -- probably, though you won't know it for a while due to the inevitable desperation and volume of the alarmist crowd. My "gambler's guess" is that the peak effectiveness of all the alarms passed last year when--lo and behold--an error was corrected that showed the high temp in the US last century was 1934, not 1998.

That's the kind of news that lands with a leaden thud in pundits' laps, followed by a period of complete silence while they try to figure a way to squirm around the fact that even their most basic assumptions about the trend could be wrong.

Watch and see, but we've already noticed that "global warming" is widely replaced by "climate change", haven't we?
Apr 2, 2008 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterSam_S
energy independence is much more important than global warming. when the US is energy independent there will be no more oil wars and the terrorists will all be poor and unable to reach us. This will save lives AND energy. The global warming crowd can't claim this. They can claim that they will damage and perhaps destroy capitalism which is their true aim. I for one am not done using capitalism. So I want to keep it. True believers in global warm are free to starve and freeze to death next winter. Think of all the energy you will save!

Apr 6, 2008 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterpoetryman69
Almost all wars and terrorism in the world can be stopped. Almost all dictators and tyrants can be rendered powerless. All we have to do is to stop paying them. An alarming amount of the money Western nations pay for oil is going into the coffers of people who are terrorists and dictators. All we have to do defund the world’s most violent criminals is to become energy independent.

In the first phase of energy independence we get as much energy as possible from resources which we own or which are in the hands of friendly, stable nations. First we build new nuclear power plants in every state. If the French can make nuclear work what excuse do we have? If France’s success isn’t incentive enough, consider the success of Denmark, Brazil, and Australia in diversifying their energy supplies. In addition, we drill for oil off all our coastal waters and we build new refineries and pipelines in every state. We must burn more coal and use more natural Gas. Existing energy companies are making plenty of money in the current climate of false scarcity. We will have to find away around them. Usually the way around greedy energy companies would require political will. However, almost all existing politicians are in the pocket of the energy companies. This includes democrats and republicans. So every politician currently in office needs to be thrown out. Anyone who works for or who owns an existing conventional energy company is in my view disqualified for public office. We already know from the Bush/Cheney experience that such politicians will work in a way contrary to the national security of the United States and will start pointless wars for oil. Every time a new oil war start conservatives get paid. That is why no conservative supports plans to gain immediate energy independence.

Merely having new politicians willing to clear the legal minefields laid down by oil bought senators and congressmen might not be enough. We might have to get a little bolder. Therefore I suggest that we build terawatts of new nuclear power plans and miles of new oil refineries in Mexico and that we send the power back to the states via pipelines, power lines, hydrogen, or whatever works. This will provide work for Mexicans and energy for us. The Mexican government will have a large incentive to make the plants secure and this increased security might even spill over to the borders and make our borders more secure.

While phase one is going on we need to start on phase 2. In this phase we bring online as many green and renewable technologies as are currently viable and put as much money as is needed into producing more. I would suggest that the model cities be built in the west and south—anywhere that it does not get cold enough to snow. The idea is to build small towns or cities that will go cold turkey. There will be no fossil fuels of any kind allowed in these cities. All vehicles and houses will be powered by wind, solar and bio-mass. The best locations would be those that have year around wind, sun and enough farming in the area to produce the bio mass. These experimental towns would be off the power grid. The only way to get power to them would be to make the green and renewable technologies work. Volunteers who truly believe that the future is green would be invited to apply for residency. We would probably take engineers and farmers over other types because we would need people who were skilled in keeping the power conversion machinery going and others who don’t mind the get their hands dirty hard work of farming. Another part of the second phase will involve green government. In a free society you can not tell free citizens they must go green. But you can tell government at all levels that it is prohibited from using non domestic sources of energy and non domestic products.

Apr 13, 2008 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterpoetryman69

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