Reply To: CO2 causing much of warming but action lacking


Here’s another letter I’ve sent the South China Morning Post [edit: appeared on 7 Jan 08], responding to letter from Viscount Monckton.

Dear Sir:

It was interesting to see that Viscount Monckton of Benchley – who once wrote an article titled “The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS”, recommending quarantine for all HIV carriers – has written to the South China Morning Post, attempting to put the editors right regarding global warming.

Sadly, Monckton fails to muster arguments that make his case. Claiming global surface temperatures have not risen in a statistically significant sense since 2001, he omits to mention that NASA ranks 2005 the warmest year in over a century, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently reported that “Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850).¡¨

Plus, in seeking a trend over just six years, Monckton has tumbled into his own trap of lacking statistical significance. The warming trend is clearly upwards, and the latest data suggests the rise is faster than previously estimated.

Monckton also refers to apparent anomalies in temperatures recorded in the tropical upper troposphere, and states that from these we now know that the relatively minor warming that ceased (sic) in 2001 was largely not caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Here, he ignores the large errors in upper troposphere temperature measurements. And – as so often with global warming “sceptics” – he ignores the mountain of scientific publications that show global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions is real and significant, and cherry picks from the molehill of science that suggests otherwise.

In concluding that no imposts should be inflicted upon us unless we are told how much they will cost and how much effect they will have, Monckton reveals his narrow knowledge of global warming. The IPCC has forecast that measures to mitigate the worst impacts of global warming could slow global GDP growth by an average of 0.12 percentage points.

The Post was correct to write of a “planetary emergency”. We are all effectively locked in a test tube, in surely the greatest experiment man has ever performed. If the worst projections come true, this will mean the transformation of life as we know it: a dire, apparently sci-fi scenario, yet a succession of news reports tell us of warming-related events that are unfolding at a startling pace.

This is not a time for debating and waiting and seeing, but for action.

Yours faithfully,
Dr Martin Williams