After a week in the South of France I am back at home and it is time to catch up on the news. One of the news stories that drew my attention was the UK Energy Minister, Baroness Sandip Verma, claiming that policies might play a role in curbing rising temperatures. See also the transcript of the debates in the House of Lords of October 27, 2014. The answer came after Viscount Ridley questioned when warming would start again:
My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed, in the same words, that there has been a “hiatus” in global warming for at least the past 15 years? Will she give us the opinion of her scientific advisers as to when that hiatus is likely to end?
In fact not a bad question, we hear all the time that the science behind global warming is clear. Wouldn’t that be a nice test to see how clear it really is?
But the answer was not exactly what I was expecting:
My Lords, my noble friend raises a couple of issues that we would dispute in a longer debate. What we do recognise is that a change in weather patterns is happening across the globe and that climate change is occurring; it may have slowed down but that is a good thing, and it could well be that some of the measures we are taking today have helped that to occur. If we are to respond seriously to climate change and changing weather patterns, we need to be able to put in place things that mitigate and adapt to those different patterns.
It reminded me about myself some 6 years ago. My switch from believer towards skeptic started with the question whether climate policies made a change in the form of a colder autumn. I know, I know, I was very naive at that time. But it was the beginning of a search that cumulated in this blog. The question made me think and in the end reconsider what I thought was obvious.
It clearly didn’t have the same effect on the Minister. The statement that the global warming hiatus might be related to some of the decarbonization measures is of course utter nonsense. There is one tiny little problem with his statement: until now CO2 was claimed to be CAUSING global warming and despite all the measures that have been taken, global emissions are still INCREASING.
The UK emissions are about 1% of the global emissions and even if there is a reduction, it will be only a tiny fraction of that. Even if we consider the reduction in emissions of the developing countries as a whole, it is rather symbolic in the face of the massive increase of emissions in the developing nations.
How on earth could these tiny local emission reductions have a stabilizing effect on global climate if they fail to bring down actual CO2 levels? More, this stabilization of global temperatures is not from yesterday. It is there since at least a decade and a half. How could the current government measures have an effect on the temperatures of a decade and a half ago? And if this was not the case, what do these advisors believe what was the reason for the stabilization at that time before the leveling by those governmental measures started to kick in?
If it is really the opinion of the scientific advisers of the Minister that the reduction in emissions from the UK/developing countries has a stabilizing effect on global temperatures, then I want to have what they are smoking!