Reply To: Global warming, dentists; and is Simon a Cyborg?


After another daft letter from Simon Patkin appeared in the paper, I sent another response:

Simon Patkin has written another missive to the Post (Sunday, 5 November), this time berating Christine Loh for “pressing the global warming alarm button yet again”. He accuses global warming alarmists of picking random changes in climate out of context.

Now, a little news for Mr Patkin: here on Planet Earth, it is not random changes that are causing alarm, but a persistent, disturbingly fast rise in global temperatures. This rise is consistent with predictions made based on the likely effects of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These gases are known to absorb radiation emitted from the earth’s surface after warming by the sun – resulting in a significantly higher atmospheric/surface temperature than if the gases were absent. As the gas concentrations increase, the science predicts temperatures will rise, broadly as observed.

Further, the scientific “debate” about the reality of global warming is now over. Yes, a few scattered scientists continue to noisily cloud the issue. However, climate change is accepted as fact by major scientific bodies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, and Britain’s Royal Society – as well as by our own Hong Kong Observatory.

The real debate has now shifted to discuss what, if anything, should be done about global warming. In a major report for the UK government, economist Sir Nicholas Stern has recommended that strong action is essential, or the consequences could be disastrous, including for the free markets of which Mr Patkin is so fond.

With the scientific literature bereft of papers countering arguments that global warming is real, I see Mr Patkin cites State of Fear by novelist Michael Crichton as “an excellent analysis of the environmentalists’ attempts to deceive us over global warming”. Crichton’s novel is two years old (perhaps Mr Patkin really does dwell in an alternate reality), and has already been criticised for demonstrating a lack of thorough understanding of the issue, and of selective use of data.

The deception over global warming is not perpetrated by “environmentalists” – and by scientists including climate experts who actually work in this field. Instead, it stems from the relatively small but noisy band of “sceptics”, several of whom are funded by a hard-core group of industries that are unwilling to change their polluting ways to help ensure a decent future for our planet – including future generations, biodiversity, and self-interested free markets.