David Bellamy on Climate Change

This is certainly true:

The truth is that there are no facts that link the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide with imminent catastrophic global warming.

The IPCC, which is, after all, the scientific consensus, also says the same. The important qualifiers are "imminent" and "catastrophic".

What is actually being said is that the world will, in 100 years (as far as things go in any detail) will not be as good as it could be unless something is done.

28 thoughts on “David Bellamy on Climate Change”

  1. In the light of the recent fate of Professor Watson, isn’t David Bellamy risking excommunication from the scientific establishment by making controversial remarks?

  2. I remember seeing Bellamy on Channel 4 News debating with George Monbiot. Bellamy’s claim was that glaciers were not in worldwide retreat. Fortunately, Monbiot had actually brought with him an email from a climatologist friend with the most recent numbers on glacial retreat and was able to make David Bellamy look like a complete tit. He’s really not the sort of person that you want on your side in an argument like this one.

  3. “The IPCC, which is, after all, the scientific consensus,”: aw, Tim, not often that you’re so gullible.

    Tim adds: I find it much much easier to say that yes, OK, the IPCC is the consensus: and then go on to point out that the economics of what people intend to do about it is stupid or silly.

  4. “scientific consensus” is a meaningless phrase. Science is about truth, if 95% of scientists are wrong, their numbers cannot make them right. I seem to recall something similar happened in economics.

    There is no scientific evidence that the world will be worse off in 100 years. Historically, a (naturally) warmer earth is a healthier, more productive earth.

  5. Let us look at history: during the Mediaeval Warm Period, the northern hemisphere was about 1 degree C warmer than now. Was that a catastrophe?

    No, it was not. It was a time of incredible prosperity: the hardship came when the Little Ice Age hit and harvests failed and people starved.

    “Bellamy’s claim was that glaciers were not in worldwide retreat. Fortunately, Monbiot had actually brought with him an email from a climatologist friend with the most recent numbers on glacial retreat and was able to make David Bellamy look like a complete tit.”

    What a pity that Bellamy didn’t look up some of the more recent research. An extensive survey of a number of glaciers in the Southern Hemisphere — focusing especially on New Zealand — show that, whilst glacial area is falling, total weight of ice is increasing.


  6. Was Moonbat’s e-mail from a “climatologist” friend peer reviewed?

    No tit I’ve ever had acquaintance with ever had that much hair, I pity you, sanbikinoraion.

  7. Why do people still feel compelled to argue against the theory of global warming? As a theory, it’s been around since 1896, almost as long as evolution and Mendelian genetics, longer than relativity and plate tectonics. Like these other theories, its main tenet (that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause the climate to change) continues to be borne out by events, albeit very slowly. Yet unlike these other theories, you still get loads of apparently respectable people saying its just plain wrong or that global warming is happening coincidentally or, in Bellamy’s case, not at all. If Bellamy stood up and said the theory of plate tectonics was wrong and that earthquakes were caused by excess sunspots, we’d all think he had lost his marbles. So why does anyone take him seriously on global warming?

  8. Isn’t the question here NOT whether or not climate-change is our influence but about the impact it will have on people?

    As Tim notes the qualifiers are imminent/catastrophic.

    Climate Science is not the place to understand how the world will react politically. It is not the place to understand how society will organise itself to deal with any problems we encounter.

    Too many people want to frame this as a question of Science V Science. It is most definitely not. It’s easy to say that the influence will cause huge needs on society that we could better plan for, but societies ability to react quickly is unparalleled: We went from virtually no computers to computers in nearly every home (developed world) in about 25 years or so. This hugely altered society, it reinvented the way 100s of millions of people work, operate, live (to give one example…include cars, mobile-communication, air-travel etc. etc.)

    How climate change affects the people is a social and political issue. Not a science issue. Science can tell us X may occur or Y will occur. It cannot tell you how government/people will act, how society will adapt. How social-policy will change, how quickly we will adapt/bring about change.

  9. Mark,
    That adding CO2 to the atmosphere will have an effect is clear. The question is: is the effect measurable, significant or indeed harmful? The likelihood, given the relative volumes of CO2 and the atmosphere, is that it is none of these. Events do not bear out the theory as climate trends do not follow CO2 trends, suggesting that other, more important, factors are involved. If CO2 is not a significant driver, it is madness to put global economic growth into decline in order to reduce emissions. The poor who would be lifted out of poverty as the global economy grows certainly won’t be thanking anyone for keeping them in poverty while achieving nothing. Whether climate change is natural (most likely on historical evidence) or due to humans, a strong economy will allow the world to adapt.

  10. “As a theory, it’s been around since 1896…”

    They worried abouy SUVs & too many cheap flights even back then…?!

  11. >>Events do not bear out the theory as climate trends do not follow CO2 trends, suggesting that other, more important, factors are involved.

    If only. Unfortunately, events are following the theory remarkably closely. Yes, there is a time lag involved, but it’s not that long. And the real wory is that the amount of CO2 being released is steadily growing, which suggests that the course of events will accelerate. It may well be that a planet operating 5°C hotter than today will be a Shangri-la where we will all live with abundant food supplies and happily exist in our currently defined national boundaries, but I wouldn’t like to bet on it.

  12. They weren’t too worried about cheap flights, Julia, because Baron Kelvin, President of the Royal Society had assured everybody in 1895 that: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

  13. What events, Mark? Temperatures haven’t risen for 9 years despite constant unsubstantiated assertions that temperatures are rising at unprecedented rates. The frequency and severity of hurricanes does not follow the increase in CO2 but is as cyclical as ever. We’ve seen record highs of sea ice in the antarctic, just as we saw record ows in the arctic. There are severe droughts in parts of the world, but no worse than droughts experienced before human CO2 emissions reached (relatively) meaningful proportions. The same is true of floods. Indications are that the climate is changing in much the same old merry way it has for millennia.

  14. “They weren’t too worried about cheap flights, Julia, because Baron Kelvin, President of the Royal Society had assured everybody in 1895 that: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.””

    Those wacky (but infallible..!) scientists, eh…?

  15. You are confusing random events with long term trends. Everybody and their aunt knows that the world is warmer now than it was twenty or thirty years ago. You have only to look at the ever earlier springs, the ever milder winters. Thus far we have only experienced a small uptick, less than 1°C and, as you point out, well within normal climatic fluctuations for an interglacial. But that is also bang in line with what the theory has predicted; the problem is what happens next. The difference in average temps between an ice age and an interglacial is only around 5°C: the prediction is that we may increase by that amount if we keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere in the manner we are now doing. As far as we know, the world won’t have been that hot for several million years, and just possibly never before.

    Of course, it may not happen as predicted, but thus far the basic model has been proven to be sound, so there is every reason to be worried.

    >>Indications are that the climate is changing in much the same old merry way it has for millennia.
    Hmm. I just wish it were so……

  16. MattBrinkley

    Quite, just as every man and his aunt knows that the world 30 years ago was COOLER than it was 30 years before that. Just as every man and his aunt knows that the Romans used to grow wine north of York and that Greenland used to be farmed. I don’t dispute that CO2 is likely to lead to increased temperatures, but the World has been naturally warming and cooling since time began, and there is no evidence that what is happening now is anything unusual. You say that the basic climate models have proved to be sound. Well, yes, except for the fact that sea levels aren’t actually rising rapidly, as predicted, and that the temperature since 1998 has been pretty stable, instead of rising rapidly, as predicted. We were told that summers would become hotter and winters more extreme. So, as predicted, we’ve, err, had an extremely mild and dry winter followed by a wet, cold summer. Water shortages were predicted in Australia, who have just experienced one of the coldest, wettest Springs on record. So yep, the climate models have been largely accurate, if you say so.

    You say that the differential between an ice age and an interglacial is 5 degrees – the difference at the moment since the 1850s is around 2. Sure the Earth’s warming, CO2 is a factor, but it is NOT a reason to bankrupt the World’s economy. Kyoto, according to statistics, would make a difference to the world’s temperature of under 0.1 degrees over 50 years. I worry more for the future of my grandchildren if crazy schemes like these are allowed to wreck the World’s economy, than if the Earth’s surface warms by a couple of degrees – warms to a level that has historically brought great prosperity and growth in previous warm periods.

  17. Quite simply, what you are writing is bullshit.
    1) The world is already hotter now than its been since the ice ages began. We’ve had many wobbles in the past, but what is starting to happen now is quite different.
    2) No one knows how rapidly sea levels will rise. The model doesn’t predict the effects of temperature rises. Ditto hot summers, wet winters, hurricanes, etc.
    3) Rising CO2 is not ‘a factor’, it’s ‘the factor.’ Don’t kid yourself that what is happening is just a normal wobble. It isn’t. We’ve known about this for a century and nothing has happened since the theory was first postulated to suggest it is wrong.
    4) I don’t know what to do about this problem anymore than anyone else. Kyoto may well be a total distraction. Maybe there will be some techno-fix, maybe not. But denying its happening at all really isn’t very helpful.
    5) I suggest your comments about bankrupting the world’s economy are akin to someone saying they are not going to waste their hard earned cash buying insurance products.

  18. MarkBrinkley

    Oh Dear. You accuse me of talking bullshit, yet fail to refute a single point that I made (although getting your name wrong was rather remisce of me – sorry). This is really rather typical of the MMGW brigade – attack anyone who disagrees with us, even if you can’t provide a shred of fact to win the argument.

    I would answer your 5 points as follow:

    1. This argument is seriously weakened by the medieval warm period. During this period there were vineyards near Hadrian’s Wall and Greenland was green with crops being farmed there. There have recently been headlines about a vineyard in Shropshire, but that is a good 150 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall, and Greenland is certainly not green at the moment, although its ice is melting. Records from the 14th Century are hardly exact, but there is enough evidence to suggest that these occurrences were fact. From this we can deduce that temperatures then were indeed higher than they are now. The authors of the now discredited hockey stick graph attempted to airbrush the Medieval Warm Period out of history, and were caught doing so. The reason that they attempted to do so was because it offered compelling evidence that the assertion, repeated by you here, that “The world is already hotter now than its been since the ice ages began. We’ve had many wobbles in the past, but what is starting to happen now is quite different…” is a false one.

    2. The fact is that we were told that sea levels would rise, and do so markedly over a short period of time. Of course we do not know how quickly sea levels will rise (although the computer models that you place so much belief in seem to have been fairly exact with their figures), but as you appear to admit here, they are expected to rise. The fact that sea levels have not risen at all, not even slightly, surely makes this hypothesis at best unproven, and at worse false. Scientists have attempted to predict weather patterns from the computer-generated data – their conclusions being as I said above. Your comment is interesting though – I take it then that you don’t attribute any recent weather events to global warming?

    3. Rising CO2 is the only factor that has been researched at length. However there is a lot of research going on about sunspots, cosmic rays, and cloud formations which as yet is incomplete. At this stage it is impossible to say either way with total conviction. There is currently noticeable warming occurring on Mars, where human influence is zero and there is nothing to suggest CO2 is a factor there. There is more research to be done, and for Global Warming Propagandists to attempt to close down the debate is, as you say, not particularly “helpful”.

    4. On this point I agree with you. My own opinion is that we need to urgently tackle man’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels. George Bush recently gave several billion dollars towards research on how this could be done, which is a positive step. There are many other reasons than global warming to do this, notably dwindling oil supplies and our dependence on rogue Middle Eastern states to obtain it. I don’t deny that it’s all happening, but I do strongly believe that restricting personal freedom and imposing higher taxes will be neither desirable, nor effective. I also feel many on the left are using global warming as a ruse in which to attack capitalism. This is certainly “not helpful”.

    5. My point relates to Government economics in general. Throwing billions of pounds at something with no discernable end result is wasting money. Kyoto suggests we do exactly that. Therefore it’s not worth doing. Better to search for better solutions. Surely you can agree with that?

    Finally, I’d be interested to hear your response to this, but only if you steer clear of personal invective.

  19. OK. I am no expert on the medieval warm period but the evidence I have seen from the tree rings data is that it was bearely noticeable. What has happened in the past thirty years surpasses it by some distance. As for vinyards in Yorkshire – well they can grow garpes in Yorkshire now and have been able to cosnsitently for centuries, so why is this taken as evidence of a fantastic warm period? Farming in Greenland? Are you kidding? Where is the evidence? it’s an urban myth.

    2. Rising sea levels. If the Greenland Ice sheet melts, it’s plus 7 metres. If the West Antartic ice sheet melts, it plus another 7m. So far they haven’t melted. But as 5°C rise would probably be enough to melt them. What are you doubting? Sea levels have changed more dramatically than this in the past – they get much lower during ice ages, not suprisingly. The fast that any change in sea levels to date is virtually undetectable proves precisely nothing: except that maybe the process has barely started. I don’t suppose Noah noticed any flooding for the first 39 days!

    3. I don’t see your point. The theory of global warming isn’t propaganda, any more than the theory of plate tectonics. If Italy doesn’t have an earthquake for thirty years, do people turn around and say the theory of plate tectonics is wrong and that earthquakes are caused by sunspots? We’ve known about the effects of adding large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere for decades (actually since 1896): the only reason people dispute it is because they can’t be arsed to do anything about it. Like a drunk saying that one more drink won’t do any harm. There has been a lot of research into the effects of sunspots – no one says they don’t have any effect, they probably do, but why should sunspots have an effect and CO2 not have an effect? It’s a pick and mix argument that makes no sense. The

    4) No comment

    5) Doing the wrong thing will of course be a waste of money. The problem is that we don’t yet know what is the right thing. Doing nothing at all may well work out to be the most expensive option, as the Stern report pointed out.

    I am reminded of the old adage about marketing spend. 90% of it is wasted, only 10% is effective, but we never know which is the 10% that works.

    Finally “bullshit” is not meant as personal invective. No offence is meant. It’s just that it sums up your denialist arguments to a tee. It’s like you choose not to believe a perfectly sound scientific theory because it might cause yiou some personal inconvenience and you’d rather not be troubled by it. Why don’t people mount denialst arguments about plate tectonics? Might it be because it doesn’t effect them or that we know there is nothing we can do about it? Unfortunately, there is something we can do about greenhouse gases but it will be expensive and just possibly inconvenient (ah its that Gore word!).

    Now I’m off to Greenland to harvest my sugar beet. Bye.

    Tim adds: “If the Greenland Ice sheet melts, it’s plus 7 metres. If the West Antartic ice sheet melts, it plus another 7m. So far they haven’t melted. But as 5°C rise would probably be enough to melt them.”

    Sure, but the important point is “when”? Somewhere between 2500 and 2800 is the current scientific consensus. It’s simply too far away for us to worry about. Actual climate scientists tell us that (William Connelly for one). Look, if you assume 3% GDP growth (as at least one family of IPCC scenarios does) do you know how rich that makes people in 500 years time? How many hundreds of times richer than us? Let them deal with it.

  20. BTW, I am quite wrong about farming in Greenland. They do farm in Greenland. They always have done. But the southern tip of Greenland is actually on the same latitiude as Shetland so maybe this is not surprising.

    Picked up this relevant article from der Spiegel

    To quote: For most people on earth, global warming still consists of little more than computer models and a number that seems neither concrete nor threatening: an increase of about 4.5°C (8.1°F) in the average temperature worldwide by the year 2100. But what this will mean for Greenland is already becoming apparent today. In Qaqortoq, for example, the average temperature increased from 0.63°C to 1.93°C in the last 30 years. This, in turn, has added two weeks to the growing season, which now amounts to 120 days. With up to 20 hours of daylight in the summer, those two weeks make a huge difference.

  21. >>Look, if you assume 3% GDP growth (as at least one family of IPCC scenarios does) do you know how rich that makes people in 500 years time? How many hundreds of times richer than us? Let them deal with it.

    Isn’t that referred to as the Lomborg defence? The problem with it is a) the concensus may be out by an order of magnitude b) the effects of AGW, plus peak oil, maybe to stop 3% GDP growth rates dead in their tracks. Plus there is always the danger of the Venus option whereby temp rises trigger a feedback loop and temps go off the scale. Unlikely? Maybe, but we are in unknown territory.

    But this is getting beyond my spat with GH. I have no better idea than anyone else what the long term effects of AGW will be, but I am damn sure that it’s a real phenomenon and not some left-wing propaganda dreamt up to replace religion or Dawkins or whatever.

    Tim adds: “long term effects of AGW will be, but I am damn sure that it’s a real phenomenon and not some left-wing propaganda dreamt up to replace religion or Dawkins or whatever.”

    Indeed, which is why me post concentrated on the words “immediate” and “catastrophe”. Those are propaganda using AGW to insist upon large scale changes to society. Read any Caroline Lucas piece on the subject. What she advocates would make the problem worse, not better.

  22. Tim, I am tempted to agree with you ! Except—–I am very fearful of us continuing to spew out CO2 in apparently ever increasing amounts (cf China). Our 3% annual GDP growth is a recent phenomenum: before industrialisation the annual increase would have measured 0.001% if you were lucky. So this huge surge in wealth is in good part down to our use and abuse of fossil fuels. But if burning fossil fuels is the problem, can the solution really be to burn even more?

  23. No MarkBrinkley, the solution would be to find an effective and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels. When I mentioned this, your response was “No Comment” which speaks volumes. The human race has consistently adapted to challenges, and evolved in order to overcome these challenges. To my knowledge, what has never happened in history is that the human race has regressed in order to overcome a challenge. Yet this is what is being proposed by the makers of Kyoto – less industry, less production, less travel, less trade. Do you really expect the human race to go for that? No, if we truly believe that this is a problem for generations to come we need to invest our money in finding an alternative, not on restricting the way people live their lives.

    Have you seriously never asked yourself the following?

    – Why has this become such a political issue? Why does a scientist have to believe one side of the argument to get funding? Why are those scientists who disagree with it smeared, attacked and often hounded out of their jobs?

    – Why is it that so many of the most vocal people involved with global warming (a) socialists and (b) not scientists? Al Gore has far fewer scientific qualifications than I do. Why when it comes to tackling emissions is America always the prime target, yet China (the worst offenders) and Canada (who emit more greenhouse gases per capita than America) are scarcely mentioned? Why are the solutions touted by these people always ones that equate exactly with socialist ideals (i.e. reduce the power of big business, increase taxes, reduce personal freedoms), rather than practical ones based on sound economics (scientific research to find an alternative to fossil fuels)?

    – If the problem is so serious, why do NONE of those who shout the loudest ever practise what they preach? Why does Al Gore’s house have the carbon footprint of South Wales? Why is George Bush’s ranch more environmentally friendly than Al Gore? Why does Al Gore fly by private jet everywhere? Why do George Monbiot and Tim Flannery fly around the globe to give expensive lectures on er.. not flying around the globe to make money?

    – Why if the problem is so valid, does Al Gore have to make up large sections of his movie? Why, if the science is so settled, does Al Gore routinely refuse to answer questions on it?

    – Why, having just twice told GH that he is talking bullshit, can MarkBrinkley not provide ONE FACT to demonstrate that GH is talking bullshit?

    Other than the last question, I have asked myself these questions, and can only come to the conclusion that there are a large number of people, mostly governments and people in favour of large government, who feel it is vital to their interests that MMGW be accepted as a fact. That makes me suspicious. When it was discovered that smoking was bad for you, there was none of this quasi-religious stampede. There was a debate which in the end was won by the facts. Here there has been no debate, because those who believe in MMGW think that debate is “not helpful”. People who state any “inconvenient” facts are labelled “denialists”, rather like our MarkBrinkley here. If the facts are indisputable, then why the fear of a debate?

    I am also old enough to remember the doom-laden predictions of a coming Ice Age during the early 80s. What bullshit that turned out to be!!

  24. My problem with your denialist tendencies is that you keep thinking you are scoring telling points about Greenland, about vineyards in Yorkshire, about sea level rises, etc. But these points prove precisely nothing, other than the climate is none too stable. We all know and accept that. That isn’t the issue.

    It’s like people saying they know someone who has smoked 60 a day for 40 years and is still in perfect health therefore smoking is not harmful.

    AGW (not MMGW, please) is no more in doubt as a theory now than the health problems of smoking. In fact the dangers have been known a lot longer. The science is actually quite simple and well understood. More CO2 in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect which will tend to destablise the climate far more than your medieaval warm periods. Something akin to an ice age, only in the other direction. Is that alarmist exaggeration? Possibly, but also possibly not – I have no idea, but I think the threat is at least worth considering.

    What happens next may be highly unpredictable – probably will be – but you just seem to be pretending that its not happening, or that the science is still in question. That is where I disagree with you . I am not putting forward a programme of action as to what we do about it, I am not that clever. But ask yourself this. You obviously seem to accept the smoking argument but to this day we don’t understand how smoking does its damage – we just rely on the statistics. With AGW, there is a well understood mechanism as to why the climate should start changing: lo, the climate has started changing (it has, hasn’t it, or am I imagining it?) in ways that the model suggests might happen. So why choose to disbelieve the theory? Why is climate science seen as scaremongering or alarmist, whilst medical reserach is seen as mostly sensible?

    Is it because it’s so damned uncomfortable for us to have to consider that we may have to do something other than business as usual? Maybe there is a techno fix for this all: indeed I hope there may be because, like you, I have no wish to go back to the dark ages in order to survive. But maybe there isn’t? Either way, I just find it all a bit scarey.

    Yes, and I know Al Gore’s a hypocrite….and I am old enough to remember the ice age scares too. Indeed almost old enough to remember the days when they told us smoking was good for us. Oh how silly we were and still are!

    Unfortunately, none of this means that AGW isn’t happening.

  25. There seem to be lots of contradictory facts here regarding climate change.Surely it should be possible to prove beyond anyone’s doubt which facts are correct and which not. For example was the medieval warm period warmer than today or not? Resolving that question alone might settle the arguement regarding mmgw. Before anyone takes sides in the debate how about a big effort by all concerned to establish an unbiased concensus on what the climatic facts are.

  26. p.s.
    Here in the UK its now mid April and its freezing out side my window and has been for several weeks.What conclusion re global warming should I come to based on my obserations now?

  27. It’s really quite simple. Ice core samples show that CO2 levels rise after the earth has wrmed, not the other way around as Al Gore claimed. That’s why he refuses to debate the issue. This CO2 comes from the bottom of the oceans in the past and man’s contibution has been insignificant. Sceptical scientists base their theory on fact. Alarmists use unproven computer models. Already these alarmists have egg on their faces and there is a lot more to come.

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