A Lot of Hot Air; Scientists Claim We Are Stewing in a Toxic Cloud, Irrevocably Altering the Earth's Delicate Ecosystem with Our Disregard for Global Warming. but as Ros Dodd Discovers, Man-Made Solutions Will Do Little to Stem Cyclical Environmental Change

The Birmingham Post (England), April 17, 2001 | Go to article overview

A Lot of Hot Air; Scientists Claim We Are Stewing in a Toxic Cloud, Irrevocably Altering the Earth's Delicate Ecosystem with Our Disregard for Global Warming. but as Ros Dodd Discovers, Man-Made Solutions Will Do Little to Stem Cyclical Environmental Change


Byline: Ros Dodd

Forecasters are notorious for their inability to always predict what the weather's going to do tomorrow, yet a vocal body of scientists is convinced it knows how the world's climate is going to change over the next 100 years.

So compelling is the 'evidence' for this - and the natural disasters it will cause - that politicians and green activists have been jumping up and down in fury at George W Bush's audacious decision to ditch the Kyoto Protocol.

The 1997 accord, many of the world's leaders claim, is the only way forward to prevent global warming from wreaking climatic havoc for generations to come.

Thus, despite the new US President's refusal to play ball, those who believe in the virtue of Kyoto are ploughing on regardless.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott flew to America in a bid to restart the stalled climate change talks.

He points out that the science of global warming - which is caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuel - has been confirmed by top scientists in a recent United Nations report.

Yet the fact of the matter is that there is no conclusive evidence to support the global warming theory and scientists are deeply divided over the issue.

Far from backing the 'earth dies screaming' viewpoint, many independent specialists remain unconvinced that climate changes - present and future - are anything but cyclical.

But now the subject has been hijacked by politicians, it's proving increasingly difficult to see the wood from the rain forests' trees.

Mr Prescott has warned that changes in climate 'are coming; it doesn't recognise national boundaries - it's global'.

But climate change is nothing new.

From the time of Noah, when a tidal wave engulfed much of the Earth's surface, to the last Ice Age, our planet - and its inhabitants - have adapted to the ebb and flow of climatic evolution.

Why world leaders and scientists should now view predicted alterations to temperature and sea levels as potentially 'irreversible' and catastrophes in the making is puzzling to say the least.

A bleak report produced by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims the end of the 21st century will see life on Earth struggling against floods, drought and suffering on an unprecedented scale. Tropical island paradises will disappear, Alpine skiing retreats are likely to be lost to future generations and melting ice caps will unleash climate changes that will continue for centuries.

While Third World countries will bear the brunt of this transmutation, the West won't escape the effects, with Florida and parts of America's Atlantic coasts likely to be lashed by storms and rising sea levels.

Even if such predictions come true - and why shouldn't they? Freak weather conditions happen now - are we really to believe that toxic emissions are largely to blame?

Dr Richard Lindzen, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the foremost experts on atmospheric science, says there is no evidence that greenhouse gasses could disrupt the climate.

Renowned geologist Dr Jan Veizer, meanwhile, has produced a detailed reconstruction of the world's climate history, which shows there is no correlation between cold and warm periods and low and high levels of carbon dioxide. In fact, there were long periods when rises in carbon dioxide were accompanied by a drop in the average temperature.

Interestingly, two of Britain's leading scientists believe curtailing greenhouse gas emissions could plunge us back into the Ice Age - which could wipe out the human race.

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A Lot of Hot Air; Scientists Claim We Are Stewing in a Toxic Cloud, Irrevocably Altering the Earth's Delicate Ecosystem with Our Disregard for Global Warming. but as Ros Dodd Discovers, Man-Made Solutions Will Do Little to Stem Cyclical Environmental Change
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