The text below is reproduced from a comment I have just posted on the Climate Slate website. The comment itself was prompted by my having recently watched the movie ‘Chasing Ice’, conceived and produced by James Balog and Jeff Orlowski. This documents how James came to set up the Extreme Ice Survey and reveals some genuinely alarming facts such as the reality that many of the Earth’s glaciers have retreated further in the last 10 years than they did in the entire 20th Century. Without further ado, therefore, here is my comment:
With apologies to all, I have not got time to argue percentages with anyone. There is today no legitimate debate about whether the end of the [Holocene] sea level and climate stability of the last 12 thousand years is human caused. This is because its ending cannot be explained solely by reference to natural forces (i.e. those that operate on shorter timescales and/or are random). Those with a vested interest in the continuation of business as usual have turned residual uncertainty in climate science into unreasonable doubt regarding climate scientists. Given that the tobacco industry did this so successfully to medical science, it is not really that surprising that the fossil fuel industry has copied its modus operandi. What is surprising, however, is that so many perfectly intelligent people have been (and continue to be) fooled by the same ‘Merchants of Doubt‘ (e.g. fooled by ‘Astroturf‘ groups into believing that they are in a fight to preserve their liberty). There is only one plausible explanation for this, which is that people prefer conspiracy theories to reality because they make them feel better about the World and/or themselves. However, I think it is time for people everywhere to stop reading their ‘bedtime stories’; and start dealing with reality. The worst-case scenario is that anthropogenic climate disruption continues to accelerate and becomes unstoppable (i.e. climate sensitivity becomes irrelevant because no new equilibrium will be reached). If we allow that to happen, the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history will be inevitable. Fortunately, amongst those best-qualified to have a valid opinion, the majority view is that change is not quite unstoppable yet. However, the majority view is also that the change we have caused is already – and will be – irreversible in any timescale meaningful to humanity (i.e. it will take tens of thousands of years to be reversed). “The geological evidence from the 55 million year event and from earlier warming episodes suggests that such an addition [of CO2 to the atmosphere] is likely to raise average global temperatures by at least 5-6ºC, and possibly more, and that recovery of the Earth’s climate in the absence of any mitigation measures could take 100,000 years or more.” http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/climatechange Anyone genuinely open to the idea of following the evidence wherever it leads should be very concerned by the carefully-considered choice of words in the above ‘Position Statement on Climate Change’ published by the Geological Society of London (or, indeed, any similar statement by any equivalent National body anywhere in the World). To dismiss this as politically-correct fear-mongering is to admit you are a conspiracy theorist.
If you have not already done so, please get ‘Chasing Ice’ out on DVD. Failing that, at least view the photographs (e.g. below – click on image for more) and/or the time-lapse photography on the Extreme Ice Survey website.