There is ample evidence that the earth’s climate has always changed, that there have been ice-ages and interglacial warm periods and sometimes dramatic shifts in temperature over relatively short periods. This is what I understand by ‘climate change’.
I understand that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines ‘climate change’ as that which is attributable directly or indirectly to human activity. I consider this definition to be wrong and subversive and I reject it.
Given that the earth’s climate has changed in the past, it is reasonable to assume that climate will change in the future – whether or not we do anything about rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Because I have often stated that there will be climate change whether or not we do anything about the increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, I have been accused of not caring, or suggesting we should not try and do something about carbon dioxide emissions.
Indeed Friends of the Earth misrepresent my position in their media release of last Thursday by stating that “Dr Jennifer Marohasy conceded that climate change is inevitable and we should adapt to what’s coming but not reduce greenhouse gas emissions” ( http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0507/S00436.htm ).
I have never said that we should not try and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I have always said that we should be concerned about increasing carbon dioxide levels. I have suggested investment in new technologies as a better option to Kyoto.
Friends of the Earth accurately quote me: “I actually think that it’s good if we can get beyond this debate of whether increasing carbon dioxide levels are driving more extreme climate events. I think that we need to move beyond that and accept and recognise that whether or not we can reduce carbon dioxide levels, there will be climate change.”
On this basis governments need to develop reactive contingency plans. I do not believe that climate change will necessarily be ‘catastrophic’ – but I do suggest we should prepare for more extreme weather events, as well as the possibility that it could be either drier or wetter in the future.
Furthermore, I suggest that trends in climate change can and should be evaluated using empirical data as well as computer models.
In summary, I am concerned about climate change and I have always been concerned about climate change.
I do acknowledge that carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouse gases. The empirical evidence, however, does not show a clear relationship between increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. Global temperatures have increased, but only slightly (0.6C over 150 years) and have jumped about from year to year. In contrast the increase in carbon dioxide levels has been significant and linear. Other things are clearly affecting global temperature.
I consider Thursday’s announcement of the new climate pact between the USA, Australia, South Korea, Japan, India and China to be great news (http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200507/s1425101.htm).
Here is a commitment focused on reducing carbon dioxide levels that has a chance of delivering something significant because it includes the emerging superpowers of India and China.
I am amazed that this deal is being critised on the basis that it may deliver very little, when the Bob Browns of the world have always acknowledged Kyoto will deliver very little but they have said it is at least a first step.
Well, why not then consider the ‘Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate’ a second step?