Page last updated at 23:45 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Climate change research sound, chief UK scientist says

Prof John Beddington
Prof Beddington is calling for more openness

The UK government's chief scientist says his confidence in climate science remains unshaken despite allegations about the withholding of research data.

Professor John Beddington told the BBC the fundamental science behind man-made global warming was "correct".

He said he was concerned that the debate on climate change was becoming artificially polarised.

But he urged scientists to be more open about the uncertainty of predicting the rate of climate change.

He was speaking in the light of reports that the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit had refused to hand over data for public scrutiny.

The Information Commissioner's Office said messages obtained by hackers in November showed that requests by climate change sceptics under the Freedom of Information Act were "not dealt with as they should have been" under the law.

Glacier claims

In another BBC interview, Prof Beddington, chief scientific adviser to the government, told Radio 4's PM programme that even if there were more allegations of wrongdoing by climate scientists or mistakes, the basic science pointing to man-made global warming was very strong.

He said: "We know that the fundamental physics of the science of climate change is correct. Carbon dioxide, when it is in the atmosphere, increases global warning.

"We know we have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the pre-industrial period by something of the order of 38%."

He said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had done an enormous job.

FROM THE PM PROGRAMME

But he added that the organisation was at fault by picking up a false claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.

He said it was wrong to attempt to predict something like that too precisely.

In an earlier interview with the Times, Prof Beddington said public confidence in climate science would be boosted by greater honesty about its uncertainties.

"I don't think it's healthy to dismiss proper scepticism.

"Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can't be challenged."



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