A Global Hoax?

The evidence for climate change, and its origins in human industrial activity, has convinced the great majority of the world’s scientists, and is accepted in reports by national research teams, including those in Ireland. It has certainly made sense to me. A small minority of scientists are sceptical - not necessarily of global warming but of its origins in human systems. They have pointed to flaws in IPCC’s evidence-gathering – affecting, for example, predicted rates of melting of Himalayan glaciers and the pace of decline of the Amazonian forests. Such close scrutiny of evidence is in the nature of science, and, given what’s at stake, a contant flux of challenge and debate seems certain – it’s the fate of all predictions to be adjusted. In addition, the costs of cutting carbon emissions have brought resistance and much misinformation from many powerful vested interests. And this, in turn, has encouraged the wilder, denialist claims of a global ‘hoax’.

There has been little change in a broad world consensus on the need to cut carbon emissions - if also little global progress in agreeing how to do it. Many people can be reluctant to believe the worst, or to sacrifice present comfort to future uncertainties. Any season that offers spectacular contrast to what has been predicted can prompt much popular doubt. In Ireland’s shivering winter at the start of 2010, it was hard to believe the world was still warming – but, overall, it was.

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