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Sceptics' week: Your comments

16 November 07 11:38 GMT

This week, we have published a number of articles looking at various aspects of climate "catastrophism" and "scepticism".

We have been inviting you to send our comments; we received so many that those below are just a selection, and some we have had to trim for length.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in.

Water Vapour 50% clouds another 25%. And clouds are made of...? Why is it anathema to the BBC to offer balanced argument rather than putting up a list of "Sceptical" points and then refuting them? Surely better to simply offer two views rather than resort to using foolishly transparent sophistry like "it's not water vapor, it's a cloud." Also, the distinction is not made between Global Warming which has a great deal of evidence for its existence and MAN MADE global warming which has far less - both in terms of root causes and likely impact in comparison to non-man-made factors.
Chris, Widnes

All this insulting amateur psychoanalysis of the supposedly ignorant masses is irrelevant, when there is a much simpler explanation for our skepticism, namely the lack of evidence. There are those, like Ms Norgaard, who feel that climate change is somehow 'obvious' from 'signs' like an unfrozen lake in Norway, even though she must have seen unfrozen lakes before. When the rest of us are unimpressed by such naive anecdotalism, the Norgaards seek to explain our failure to go bonkers in terms of even more wildly unscientific babbling about 'cultural narratives'. Her problem (one of her many problems), is not that we don't talk about it, but that we don't behave as she imagines we should. Tough.
John Blackburn, Middlesbrough

I would like to see the sceptics response to the counter of each of the ten arguments, and the counters response, and so on and so forth, until both had argued each other to a standstill. This would raise several questions such as...which expert should we believe? Why? Why are governments of the world making decisions, spending taxes, when scientists can't agree? If scientists can't agree, what messages can government send out to the public, that both sides can agree with? How about...forget carbon offsetting, carbon taxes...the carbon issue/problem and other such management speak statements. Replace with...recycle more...consume less? Alas...the sceptic in me....
Ian Short, Gwent

"Democracies have never gone to war against each other". A rather sweeping statement, and entirely dependent upon how you define the word 'democracy'. Evidently the parliaments of Britain, France and Germany in 1914 don't count. Granted they were not elected by universal suffrage even in Britain, but none were despotisms to compare with Tsarist Russia or Nazi Germany. One could argue that 'parliamentary democracy' is not 'true' democracy. Would we have gone into Iraq had the decision to do so depended upon a national vote rather than a parlaimantary majority? Possibly not.
Ken Ricketts, Wokingham, UK

Interesting, but nothing has been mentioned regarding the effect democratization and market capitalism have on consumption. The worlds resources are already stretched to the point that we consume more than the earth is able to produce, and one would expect that the proliferation of market capitalism to exacerbate this. The prospect of widespread ecological collapse is not one that can be technologically remedied since it will also most likely bring about widespread military confrontation as well as countries, democratic or not, seek to provide necessities to their populations.
R K,

Interesting, but nothing has been mentioned regarding the effect democratization and market capitalism have on consumption. The worlds resources are already stretched to the point that we consume more than the earth is able to produce, and one would expect that the proliferation of market capitalism to exacerbate this. The prospect of widespread ecological collapse is not one that can be technologically remedied since it will also most likely bring about widespread military confrontation as well as countries, democratic or not, seek to provide necessities to their populations.
R K,

As a farmer, and thus one who is in the front line of facing climate destabilization, the BBC's focus on Catastrophism prior to the IPCC's report seems to me culpably negligent. What needs, urgently, to be set before the public, is the "Contraction & Convergence" framework by which a declining global GHG budget will be shared acceptably across the nations. Without that framework's adoption, there will be no treaty and no proportionate response to the climate threat. Surely it is the BBC's job to inform the public of the relevance of that framework, and the massive but manageable changes that are coming to our society ? Given the hundreds of millions that are at growing risk of famine via drought, and thus the risk of genocide on an unprecedented scale, the BBC's 20-year-long focus on "skepticism" now seems utterly irresponsible. The bias, as the BBC exemplifies, is and always has been against accepting the evidence that society is heading for a wreck. So, with respect, I would ask just when are you going to wake up and do the job for which you are paid ?
Lewis Cleverdon, Elan, Wales

While I appreciate the journalistic impulse to offer dissenting opinions in order to provoke public engagement, the opinions expressed in Peiser's commentary do not hold up to scientific, historical, academic, or rhetorical scrutiny. Many erudite and accessible analyses debunking his skeptical assertions may be found with minimal effort. He is, nevertheless, entitled to his esoteric beliefs. Climate skeptics do remind us that we don't have all the facts yet, and catastrophic environmental changes can take thousands of years to manifest in extinction, so perhaps the "prophets of doom" do indeed exaggerate the urgency of global warming. However, we should also keep in mind that 'hyper-technological, type 1 civilizations' are pure science fiction, while extinction, whatever the cause, is irrefutable fact.
David, Boston, USA

The term "climate change" is being manipulated beyond belief. Twenty years ago those words would be accepted as meaning any variation in climate but since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change decided to redefine them to mean only man-made climate change the world has gone mad. I've never been in contact with any sceptic of the claim of man-made warming who doesn't believe that climate changes. On the other hand these sceptics very much doubt that mankind is responsible for the climate change. The IPCC don't help matters either because while it is a "Panel on Climate Change" its charter directs it to look specifically at the risk of "human-induced climate change". No wonder it loudly proclaims that there is a human influence because if there was none the IPCC would have no reason to exist. It seems like these reports from the BBC would have done us all a favour had the ambiguity of the term "climate change" been resolved at start.
John McLean, Melbourne, Australia

There seems so little that most of us can do. The market exists to extract as much money from customers for as little as possible. Should I be an early adopter for micro generation and pay even more? There are no second-hand hybrid cars for me to buy and restricted public transport. A Mediterranean holiday is almost guaranteed, a British one is weather dependent and expensive. If solutions were cheaply mass-produced and enforced by law, we'd all "do the right thing" but until then, I feel oppression and helplessness, so I avoid the issues.
Clive, Cardiff

Good Luck with telling people they would be better off not using electricity to pump, clean and remove water (including sewage) and that we would be better off living the way peoples did in the late 1800s. Please ask these extremist climatists to consider leading by example. When they have perfected the way to live without poluting, they can share it with us; otherwise stop with the "do as I say, not as I do". You are boring us.
Beverly Dietz, elberton, usa

What dismays me is that this is even still a debate. The IPCC TAR (Third Report) several years ago identified solid consensus on the anthropogenic cause of climate change. That ship has sailed. We need to move the debate on to the two key issues left: 1. What are the likely local/regional effects - what should we be preparing our society to face, in terms of for example, food supply chain, immigration policy, health service etc. 2. What can we do to restrict the severity of medium term impacts? This should be a live and foreful debate, and one to which the political parties could finally apply their intellectual talent, and provide genuine alternatives that balance the freedoms we hold dear, with the infrastructure changes the world may need us to make. Lets move the debate on to what really matters - stop wondering whether to close the stable door or not, and start working out where the bloody horse has gone and how we catch it!
Liz Tinlin, Twickenham

The "sceptics" fail to furnish anything convincing. It would take enormous scientific fierepower to "outgun" the IPCC!
Dr. Andreas Jaffé, Krefeld, Germany

As Basil Fawlty would have said 'You don't need a degree in the b**** obvious' to see we need to curb our "needs". Oh, just have a crack at the government and other institutions such as the BBC - if you really are serious then change your mileage allowances for all your employees so pushbikes get the 40 pence per mile and the 2000cc+ cars get say 8 pence ! per mile - but that's too easy really isn't it? Me? I've got a bus pass!
Martin Letts, Southampton

What is more worrying is the media's obsession with 'global warming', which in my mind is not the biggest problem. You're missing the point guys. What dwarfs it is the destruction of habitat, species, the pollution and the ridiculous rate at which we use resources. The simple fact of the matter is, with or without human induced climate change, we cannot support the way we live as a society, there is simply not enough planet. I don't want my children growing up in a world where tigers no longer exist, and the only animals and natural stimulation they get is a few pigeons. What a sad world that would be.
Chris, Leeds

I routinely tell skeptics (and there are quite a few, even in the lab I work in) that I welcome contrary data and alternative theories to explain the dramatic climate change that is being observed...quite simply, I don't get any.
Genevieve LaBahn, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

If the argument is that we dont have enough data, how then are we supposed to come up with "a compelling, rich, and variegated theory"? The whole point of the argument is that scientists are all too quick to come up with these theories on scant data which is why they appear biased against sceptics. We should all just take a deep breath and wade through the hysteria.
Alistair Lambert, Oxford

Whether man has affected climate change or not is irrelevant to me because we've known for decades that carbon emissions affect people. If we considered asthma the epidemic that it is the public would have demanded carbon emissions to be cleaned up decades ago. Buses and trains would have gone back to electric power, solar and wind power would be everywhere and we'd have low emission, 60+ mpg vehicles running on biodiesel. Cleaning up the enviornment, becoming more power-efficient, and and changing our transportation system are good things to do anyway iow.
Robert Reppert, Columbus, Nebraska, USA

John Cristy wrote an excellent article outlining how the scientific discussion works and the delicate task of weighing scepticism against available information. One aspect of his article which struck a discordant note was the assertion that "scientists are mere mortals casting their gaze on a system so complex we cannot precisely predict its future state even five days ahead". The assertion that scientist are mere mortals is a good one, the comment about not being able to predict the climate in the future is not. Most people in the UK would accept that they can't forecast whether it will rain on the 15th May 2008 (6 months ahead) but they can say that it is likely to be warmer than today (November). It is very important that we separate individual weather events (which we can't say much about on the long term) from climate events (which we all intuitively understand). This confusions between the two is an often cited criticism of the current research, but one that I would not have expected of someone of John Cristy's standing.
ben, devon, UK

We should now consider "where lies the burden of proof ?". It is not sufficient for these people to simply claim that climate scientists have not sufficiently proved their case - surely the burden of proof should now be shifted to those who think we should be allowed to continue burning fossil fuels to prove that doing so will not cause damage to the natural environment. It would be very reassuring if you could find a scientist who can prove (to the extent normally required to get a scientific paper published) that continuing to burn fossil fuels will not be a significant threat to the ecosphere.
Robert Ely, Wallingford

If people are still going to be skeptical at this stage, where all manner of proof has been waved in front of their half-opened, money-grabbing eyes, they are obviously not going to listen to the truth anyway. If it should be necessary to wake them up with extravagant but eye-opening lies, then for the greater good, for heaven's sake do so!
Chris Banks, Edinburgh

The way the BBC labels people is quite derogatory. The use of the word "sceptics" has been associated with people who have the wrong ideas or appear to be mad in the head. The underlying reporting and tone of the articles suggest that sceptics are somewhat deranged in their viewpoint. The same tone is never used when describing anyone in favour of the science behind climate change, or the European project.
Michael, Nottingham

The science on climate change is fairly robust, robust enough for the scientific community to paint a bleak picture of a future without action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For me personally the debate is now a political and moral one. It centres around what we are prepared to do as a species to make that future picture a little brighter.
David Fletcher, Cambridge, England.

Those who point to the 1970s scares on pollution and the looming energy crisis and say 'Well, the pundits were wrong - the disasters didn't happen' forget that enough people, companies and governments did take action to make many small changes that, added together, averted catastrophe. The same will be happening now - hopefully.
Robert Day, Coventry, UK

It should be known that in order to get a correlation between cosmic ray flux and temperatures, Svensmark & Friis-Christensen removed a warming trend from the data in their recent reply to Lockwood & Frohlich. This is explained in their caption for figure 2 and shows that their data does not support the theory that cosmic rays are the most important thing affecting climate in recent years.
Mark Richardson, Durham, UK

Dr Christy is a very welcome and sane voice in the increasingly hysterical pronouncements made by emotion and interest driven doomsayers. There is a very real danger that if it shown to be false that man made CO2 is causing / going to cause catastrophic climate change, then the damage to the credibility of scientists across the board will be immense. And that credibility will not be recovered for a generation at least. Does that metter? Oh yes! If the credibility of the scientific community at large is destroyed then when a real problem that is man made arises the scientists will not be believed.
Tommy, Agen, France

I would like an oil company or philanthropist to help save the polar bear from extinction by constructing a series of floating platforms in the Arctic, the positions of which could be moved by satellite navigation.
Liz Burton, Melbourne, Australia

Climate is easier to predict than weather, so why does John Christy keep implying the opposite? Polar melt has accelerated, so why does Christy keep saying that alarming changes have not been observed? Global warming threatens humans and other creatures on a massive scale, so why does Christy keep dissing the climate scientists who seek to have our fossil fuel emissions trimmed?
Mark L. Vines, Austin, TX, USA

The article states "scientists are mere mortals casting their gaze on a system so complex we cannot precisely predict its future state even five days ahead". I cannot predict whether I am going to die within the next 5 days, but in the longer term I am certain of it.

As a computer scientist and software engineer who has been following climate change for a long time, what frightens me is the failure of the IPCC reports to highlight the fallibility of computer models. No-one disputes that there are observable ongoing climate changes happening - that is not the argument against the rapid descent into 'headless chicken land'. The problem is the wholesale reliance on computer models to predict what will happen when no-one - absolutely no-one - knows with a any degree of certainty what is causing this change.
tommy, Agen, France

Finally! The truth about climate change: "We don't know." Science is supposed to be about evidence. Scientists are supposed to be sceptical. Science is by definition, a learning process. Pronouncements of certainty from people who really should know better don't help. We need more data. In the meantime, perhaps we should start *preparing* for climate change, because I suspect there is very little (if anything) that we'll be able to do about it.
Mysturji, UK

Dr Christy's skepticism is a good thing, scientifically, but not so good from the point of view of getting people to do something about the catastrophic damage that there it is probable we are doing to our planet.
Ben Wiles, Hitchin, UK

Even if the IPCC was 100% wrong, the remaining oil will be gone in a flash along with all the other diminishing resources. For our children to have any chance at a quality of life, we must curtail our consuming habits anyway. The same approach is required, and required now.
murray grimwood, Dunedin, New Zealand

Too many use statistics the way a drunk uses a lamppost - for support rather than illumination.
Warwick Johnson, Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

In my opinion John Christy rather misses the point in his drive to be "right". We're unlikely to have certainty on the effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 until we see them, by which time if the IPCC is correct it will be far too late to avoid serious consequences. If it isn't already. Not acting now is a bit like not insuring your house because you think there's a good chance nothing will happen to it, it's simply not worth the risk.
Glen Sharman, Sydney, Australia

Scientists like Professor Christy, whose agenda is suspect, are a menace to those who seek to protect our descendants from the horrors that may well befall them.
Renji Sathiah, Penang,Malaysia

The following statement by Prof Christy is simply wrong: "However, fundamental knowledge is meagre here, and our own research indicates that alarming changes in the key observations are not occurring." I am a glaciologist. I saw drastic changes in Greenland and in Antarctica during the last 10 years. The ice is melting and decaying much faster than anytime in the last 100 years or 1000 years.
Hermann Engelhardt, Pasadena, USA

Even corporate oil scientists (like John Christy) agree that if you add enough CO2 to the atmosphere you will increase the planet's mean temperature. They also agree that fossil fuel burning increases the level of CO2. Anyone still confused?
PW Henderson, Manhattan Beach, CA USA

Well done, John Cristy. Far and away the most intelligent, balanced, and thoughtful article I've read on climate change in a long while.
Jim Mansfield, Norfolk

Mr. Christy's observation on the reluctance of people to avoid the group that "does not know" is quite accurate. The climate debate has always seemed like an flashback to the fairy tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes." It seems if one doesn't see the global warming, one is a fool.
Janet Morgenstern, Billings, MT USA

We need scientists who will remember that the beginning of all science is to doubt and to question (Descartes: cogito ergo sum - one could interpret it, and it has been so interpreted, as 'I doubt everything but that I doubt').
D. Fear, Heidelberg, Germany

I find it ironic that the author (John Christy) chides the IPCC for being a political organization, seen as he is the ultimate political appointment to the committee. The US government must have searched far and wide (as far as the intellectual hotbed of Alabama in fact) before finding one of the few scientists that hold such outdated views.
Michael, Philadelphia

To believe that mankind today has the intelligence and scientific knowledge to ascertain and understand a system as complex as weather, much less climate, and further to "determine" that we understand the causes, and even more amazing, the solutions to climate "change" is the most absurd example of human arrogance in the history of science.
Keith Brown, San Francisco, CA

The world population is close to exceeding the "carrying capacity" of the earth which makes many nations very vulnerable to catastrophe caused by climate change and El Nino effects, despite human capacity for technological change. Why is population control not higher on political agendas, both national and international ?
Mike West, Edinburgh

John Christy is on a nit picking ego trip. Even if the effects of global warming and the human contribution to it are being over estimated it would not do us any harm at all to adopt a more humble approach to our relationship with the planet. Currently we only have one.
Malcolm Powell, Congleton

I graduated in Math and Physics and took a Masters in Statistics, and spent 20 years of my career in business modelling and software.I am only too aware of how easy it is to "tweak" the fitting process. For times series modelling such as economic forecasting,we used to be advised to fit only to some of the data and then check the predictive value on the rest.
Desmond Leonard, Dublin, Ireland

Mr Christy should appreciate that herds are very often correct. The Manhattan Project, for example, and that intuitive ideas are most often correct, the Origin of Species, for example. That herds are sometimes wrong is not an argument, and skepticism can kill you if taken too far. Is that a Train, or just a flashlight hurtling our way? Would Mr Christy care to risk his children because of this skepticism? That will be the real test for him. Where do you come out on your children's future, Mr. Christy?
Mark Bergseid, Carlsbad, California

I say SHAME on these scientists who are openly hindering the battle to fight global warming. In any other topic of science, I usually envy the maverick scientist who goes against the common wisdom, but in this case when the future of our planet is at stake, how can they even think about it. Regardless if the billions of tons of CO2 we pump into our atmosphere is having a major effect on climate, it is obviously not healthy or wise to persist on doing it and any scientist who is on the side of allowing human caused greenhouse gases to be launched in the air is on the side of the destroyers of Earth.
Edward Nicholas, Niagara Falls Canada

Mankind has for too long regarded the planet as a man-centred environment. The reality is, at best, that we live in a symbiotic environment. Like our own bodies, we are interwoven with the fabric of this earth and by ignoring this splendid relationship for a non-existent utopian man-centred goal we threaten our own survival. On the other hand we should also consider that the world has, for millenia before the appearance of man, had a rich and diverse life and therefore mankinds arrival could be considered as parasitical and its passing a repreive for the earth. In the end we do actually have a choice.
John Richards, Christchurch

The climate skeptics are mostly people who have decided what policies are good and what policies are bad. They will regard any evidence that suggests we should do something that goes against their ideology as highly suspect. So, in their minds it is politically incorrect to suggest that we should act against climate change because then you belong to the "Al Gore Camp", "the Left", "the Enviro Whiners", etc. It is they who want to decide what we should be alarmist about: Not climate change, but terrorism, Iraq, or Iran's nuclear program.
Johan de Vries, Amsterdam

If global warming was a disease and reducing CO2 emissions was a drug a doctor would say he did not know if the disease existed and did not know if it would harm anyone. Then the doctor would not prescribe the drug because it was not proved to work had harmful side effects and he had no idea what it would cost. Why are the rational process applied to diseases and drugs not applied to global warming? I can only think that the Environment has become our new God and we have abandoned reason to worship it.
David Crawford, Epsom

A Southern Baptist Missionary - sounds like the perfect background for preaching on the scientific method and rational thinking.
Thomas, London

"At our present level of ignorance, we think we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun."
Tom Rawlings, Worcester, U.K.

As we extract fossil fuels & combust them, using poorly designed engines, we emit noxious gases that ultimately leave less and less clean air molecules, clean water molecules. They coat the soil and bind to the earth in which we then grow our food. It should not be taking 30-40 years to figure this out: it's really, really basic. Easy enough to explain not only to the masses, but even to elected leaders.
Maria Amadei Ashot, London, UK

Everything I hear tells me that the scientific consensus is well ahead of the latest IPCC report. This is not a criticism of the IPCC as such - it is by nature a conservative body, and probably needs to be so in order to fulfil the crucial role that it does. However, it is also the case that the IPCC's schedule for producing reports requires a deadline for scientific papers that is often more than two years prior to the report's final release. Significant new evidence or events that dramatically change our understanding of climate science in the gap between the deadline and publication simply cannot be included.
Shaun Chamberlin, Kingston Upon Thames, England

The only form of alarmism that has had an impact on this issue is the fear of nuclear energy. Nuclear waste is a problem, but what matters is how we handle the waste. When we use nuclear energy, we store the waste securely. When we burn coal, we just dump the CO2 in the atmosphere. By using breeder reactors to generate nuclear fuel from thorium and U-238, we can continue to use energy at the present rate for the next 30,000 years.
Johan de Vries, Amsterdam

Professor Christy's phrase, "undisputed benefits that carbon-based energy brings to humanity," may suggest that his scientific scepticism derives from political bias. Is it unreasonable to think that, regardless of its effect on climate, overuse of carbon-based energy, like overeating, had deleterious social and health consequenses?
Isaak Sarfati, Brooklyn, NY, US

Simply outstanding and greatly useful. Thank you BBC, Messrs. Schmidt and Singer.
Fred Bone, Valparaiso, Indiana, USA

best to continue to let Dr. Christy at least be heard.

I work as a climate modeller in one of the world's foremost climate modelling institutes. I am gobsmacked by Dr Christy's remarks. He levels insinuation on top of implication about non-scientific methods, (no evidence of course) and proceeds on this basis to arrive at conclusions about the value (or otherwise) of the IPCC's work. on the basis of an overheard conversation at lunch, he implies that the IPCC reports are politically biased. Are we supposed to believe that this private conversation was somewhow so all-powerful that it swept any scientific review process aside ? Is this what Dr Christy calls 'evidence' ?
Declan O'Donnell, Hamburg, Germany

'Act now to save the planet there is still time' say the alarmists and there are the clues. Why is it never too late? I suspect the object is actually an attack on our successful western culture and way of life. Successful in that we are healthier, live longer and are much more efficient than socialist ideals when it comes to pollution. But the assumption that puny mankind, who has only just arrived, has the power to destroy the planet is absurd. But lets play the game. We save the Planet to what era? To what ideal? Roman? Tudor? Georgian? Victorian? How do we arrive at a consensus on that. And if we succeed, given that the Planet has changed enormously in its 4.5 Billion years, how do we keep it like it?
Keith Peat, Sutton on Sea, UK.

So? You're at the top of a craggy slope at about 30degrees angle. Lots of mushes rocks and so forth on the way down. You have a rugby ball. Roll the ball downhill. Where will it go? Precisely. No idea? OK, what about in general? Downhill. How can one answer that so clearly and definitively, though? That is why that point is worthless.
Mark, Exeter, UK

Climate change shouldn't be thought of only in terms of human/natural and is it/isn't it, it should be considered a part of a growing trend of global mismanagement that has resulted in poisoned rivers, devastated fish stocks, ever increasing numbers of endangered species, air pollution, millions of acres of landfill, draining of lakes through irrigation, desertification and deforestation etc etc. Until a fundamental change in human culture occurs to treat Earth with more respect rather than rampant consumerism, none of these problems will be dealt with sustainably.
Russell , Cardiff

While it's not necessarily true that an overwhelming majority is right, it is in this case. The "skeptics" are not skeptics. They are willfully ignorant cherry-pickers, ignoring most evidence and distorting what they can. In short, they are wrong. They are not skeptics. They are ignoramuses. And, they are doing a disservice to the world, and the reputation of scientists, by trying to confuse anyone and everyone, and endangering us all. Thank you for reporting on this.
Matthew Yospin, Brighton, Massachusetts, USA

These summaries from Prof. Parry and Prof. Christy are very good. The whole climate debate needs to be conducted in a much calmer and more rational manner and the public needs to have it properly explained.
Adam Lewis, Laveno, Italy

if we humans emit CO2 into the atmosphere by the ton load, something must happen. To tell us that nothing happens and therefore, not to worry about it: is treating us worse than morons.
Brinley Selliah, Barbados

For those who need an example of an Oxymoron - try UN scientific panel (such as the IPCC). The fact that such international bodies come to a conclusion first and then fit the data to suit shouldn't surprise anyone. Let's first recognize the IPCC for what it really is - a political body - no more and no less so than the Bush administration. The problem with creating a panic (as they have done) is that a lot of spurious solutions are funded, like biofuels like ethanol from corn. The cure may be worse than the disease.
S. Ravishankar, Warren, NJ

Well I work in the oil industry for an American company and y'know what? They believe in climate change. It's just not said aloud. I was told of a little incident last year at a oil industry conferance in Houston. In the public eye all were preaching the gospel of cutting down on emissions and looking for alternatives. After all of the public guff finished, spouted in a private conversation one industry executive was overheard to say that he was looking forward to the melting of the ice over Antarctica because it would make getting the oil a damn sight easier. Go figure.
Mark Chisholm, Dereham, UK

The worrying thing about climate change is that every time a new feedback is identified it is a positive feedback suggesting that things are likely to be far worse than the IPCC has suggested.
David Martyn, Aberystwyth

Professor John Christy's contribution is an appeal to ignorance, a common rhetorical device which has no relation with real science at all. Saying that because of our ignorance, some things might not be true, as not nearly the same as proving them not to be true, which is the way science actually makes progress -- by the Holmesian method of rejecting the impossible. And professor Martin Parry's contribution defends the correctness of the procedure used to generate a review report. Writing reviews is a respectable scientific tradition, but condensing knowledge is not the same as generating it. The value of a report depends less on the procedure used to generate it, than on the quality of the knowledge that was used as input. In summary, both contributions signally fail to address the heart of the matter.
Manu, Mechelen, BelgiumRon, aylesbury

The constantly shifting and uncertain position of climate-sceptics is in obvious contrast to the increasing consensus among the overwhelming majority, and reflects the universal trueism that people simply believe what they want to believe and will clutch at any available straw to do so. There is not a single contrary view in peer-reviewed science (as shown by the 2004 Science study of over 900 papers) which is the only science that matters. The ever-shifting position of the climate-sceptics looks increasingly desperate.
Guy Rowland, TonbridgeNigel Williams, Leek, Staffordshire

It is embarrassing how little credibility climate change proponents have. Their models are useless, they just don't have the guts to admit it. Experiment in a petri dish has very little to do with complexity of climate. Climate change activists are a group of people who have the desire to adjust climate like they switch their air-conditioning unit on and off. What is desirable climate? No rainy days? White Christmas? Isn't is strange that these "scientists" sound like televangelists.
Jaksa Popovic, Toronto, Canada

When people arrive at such wildly diverse conclusions I think it fair to suggest that skeptics are united far more by ideology than by supporting evidence. For instance, it is fascinating that over half of the respondents are still citing the sun as the principle driver of recent climate change despite Lockwood & Frohlicks thorough rebuttal of this view (Proceedings of the Royal Society A 2007, 463;2447-2460)
Adam Felton, Canberra, Australia

New advances in technology are daily refuting the argument by climate change deniers that it would 'ruin the economy' if steps are taken to reduce carbon emissions. For the cost of a new coal fired power station, most houses in my city could be fitted out with solar panels and/or solar strips. Such action would actually mean that many private dwellings would be able to sell back electricity to the grid. As technology advances and solar panelling becomes more efficient, then the current dependence on existing coal fired power stations would begin to decrease.
Mark Uzelin, Brisbane, Australia

The BBC survey shows only the confusion on the whole issue, especially when you consider the number of 'pro human cause' surveys that are funded directly or indirectly by the government. These people will keep on producing this information as long as they have a well paid job to do so.
Peter Fairless, Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Which countries have the highest kg carbon sequestered/ head population.? What % of global(human) population sequesters no carbon by their activities i.e. is a net emitter of carbon. It is not population per se that causes problems; rather the % population which sequesters no carbon . A population which sequesters more carbon must be harvesting more solar energy, therefore is more sustainable.
J tait-jamieson, P.N., N.Z.

There are wild grapes here in Ottawa along the base of Parliament hill and the Italians grow grapes without difficulty. Economics, not climate, determines where grapes are grown in Europe.
Brant Boucher, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Never mind what the sceptics believe, what do the proponents really believe? Over the past few years we've been told that the UK will get warmer, that the North Atlantic Conveyor will be cut off so we'll all freeze, and that the temperature won't matter because sea levels will rise so much most of the UK will be under water anyway. Maybe. And what's left will be inundated by refugees from the rest of the world where conditions will apparently be even worse. You can't apparently get two predictions the same, even though anybody who expresses even the slightest doubt about any of them (all of which we are supposed to believe simultaneously) must be Evil and quite possibly In The Pay Of The Oil Companies.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes, UK

My concern is that scientific findings (including those of the IPCC) are widely misreported by many strands of the media. This is, in itself, divisive: when any case is badly argued, people flock to take the other side. I confess to having mixed feelings about the backlash - on the one hand, I believe in the reality of global warming as an issue. On the other, it encourages me to see people subjecting the garbled arguments of rent-a-quote celebrities to due scrutiny.
Chris Cummins, Cambridge, UK

I have £22 to bet that by 2022, on September 22nd, the total amount of ice cover within a 200 km radius of the North pole will be less than 10000 square kilometers (George Longman, Edinburgh, Scotland

If CO2 emissions are harmful to humanity, then we will lose the industrial revolution. Some 90% of man's energy comes from carbon combustion; without this reaction, most will die. There is no economic alternative in base support of a national grid except nuclear power. This is a limited technology, highly concentrated in advanced nations. A die off, of biblical scale, will occur until equilibrium is once again restored.
R. L.! Hails Sr. P. E., Olney MD

We are now suffering from a cultural failure of belief fed by a postmodern dismissal of rational methods and a willingness to accept nonsense as mainstream (witness homeopathy). Scientists now find themselves shouting to be heard and the more strident they become the more sceptical the public response. Global warming may well become a physical catastrophe - but the social disaster of disbelief in the value of evidence and rational enquiry has already happened.
Professor Bob Ryan, Chippenham UK

As someone who believes in human induced global roasting, and who thinks it is the greatest problem facing humanity since we climbed down from the trees, I pose two questions to sceptics to help guide their actions: 1. What happens if I'm wrong? 2. What happens if you are wrong? See what I mean?
Don McLeod, Antioch, California USA

The big problem that I have with climate change skeptics and believers is that a lot of them come to conclusions they 'believe' in. This is science, not a faith based program that requires belief or skepticism. I wish people would simply step back from the politics and the industry marketing, look at the data that is correct and freely available, and just give a clear analysis of the data and come to a reasonable conclusion that everyone can agree on.
Kenneth Anderson, Santa Cruz, United States

There is a real danger that Climate Change Scepticism, will become 'fashionable' in the UK in the same way that it has become fashionable in the US. There is not a single published peer-reviewed treatment of climate change in the last few years which concludes that humans are not driving the change. The media needs to end the 'climate change debate' because the scientific community is not debating it any more, they are pretty clear about their conclusions.
David Parkes,

We're all products of the culture (large and small) we were raised in and carry, often unconsciously, values, assumptions and beliefs from that upbringing; people also can hold conflicted thoughts and feelings about issues. Part of myself, for example, would really like to be told that the climate change issue is a false alarm, simply because the implications are so disturbing, even though I recognise it is based on sound physics and chemistry. I recognise that feeling writ much larger in many sceptics on the comment-boards; some come across as quite desperate in their desire to disbelieve it. When faced with information that threatens existing knowledge or values people try to resolve the resulting internal conflicts by angrily attempting to outright deny the problem ('climate change isn't happening'), seeking some reason to discount the information, (hence the emphasis placed by sceptics on 'secret agendas' e.g. 'eco-fascist world governments'), grasping at simplistic but emotionally gratifying alternative solutions ('All the planets are getting warmer' etc.) displacing their anxiety and attention onto some unrelated, but containable problem or activity, trying to shut out all information (suppression), seeking scapegoats, indulging in deliberately wasteful behaviour or simply retreating into fantasy. All these are symptoms of an unconscious defence mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities.
Tim Dennell, Sheffield UK

At this point there really is no debate in most circles as to whether or not humans are warming the climate, in fact here in the US the views of these skeptics have become so obsolete that they are rarely even mentioned in college classrooms since there is such a formidable body of data in favor of anthropogenic climate change. Indeed, its almost akin to the debate between creationism and natural selection, one is science that is supported by a large body of empirical evidence, the other is all theory, inherited idealogical notions and fear of the implications of knowledge. I should hope that education is good enough in the UK that most people have seen the empirical findings of thousands hours of research and can dismiss this claptrap for what it is.
Paul Loomis, Durham NC, USA

As well as scepticism of the science, i think there is an increasing large community of people whose attitudes are 'so it may be happening, but so what?'. And to a degree i sit in this camp. I often here 'environmentalists' saying things like; 'if there is global warming it'll have a devastating effect on the third world, people will starve and suffer disease' Can I point out people in the third world are already dying of starvation and disease - and they're dying in their millions, and we're not really doing anything about it. Truth is, in the future, rich populations such as the UK will simply pay our way out of it - air con, flood barriers, border defense. And we'll ignore those that can't. Just like we did 100 years ago, and just as you are doing right now.
Anon, London

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims and flies like a duck, and has the DNA of a duck, I think we should call it a duck. To be on the safe side, we should do the same with climate change.
Gary Tunnell, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Mark Twain once observed "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics". Even more true in the here and now. But at the end of the day who are you going to believe: a vast cross section of scientist who have been trained to be skeptical by nature, or the corporate suits and political mouth-pieces who have everything to gain by keeping the status quo? For my children's sake I'll go for the former, thank you.
Tom Mengel, Denver Colorado, USA

This whole article is posted in the Opinion section, I hope. When will you be posting the arguments Global Warming Fanatics make, and then the counters by the "skeptics"??? Oh, I forget, over in Merry Old England, man-made Global Warming if "fact" already. I guess that's why USA has been on top for a while now.
Brad, Chicago, USA

Here in the United States, the vast majority of the deniers are Republican, and by and large, Southern. I smile when I hear that it is their homes that will be hit the worst. Since most of the ones that this will happen to are self-proclaimed radical Christians, we can also say that their God is punishing them, when it happens. Conservatism and radical religions are the true enemy to this planet.
Jim Bryant, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

One way to see if the information that you are reading is correct is to see if it is published in a peer-reviewed journal. This means the paper is approved by a number of scientists. What one will notice is that a lot of the information used by climate-sceptics has not been published in these journals and so is more vulnerable to inaccuracy, as there are less or sometimes only one scientist's interpretation of the data.
Mic Grew, Groningen, Netherlands

"Nine agreed that atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide had risen over the last century, with two saying decidedly that levels had not risen" Ouch. Given that scientific data show that levels have clearl, vigorously and indisputably risen, I'd be intrigued to ask why two people believe they haven't. If they're willing to reject such a basic (and resolved) aspect of the science, is there any hope of nuanced debate with them?

Its November and its cold and raining in Oldham, it was cold and it rained in Oldham last November and it will be cold and it will rain in Oldam every November for as long as we keep records. Anyone who truly fears global warming move to Oldham..
Lee, OIdham

The socalled "skepticals" are out-of-their minds and ruthless fame-seekers. These people will try to obstruct adoption of immediate and drastic measures: their statements are financed by OIL companies and politicians affiliated. It happened before with dangers connected to cigarettes smoking. It's disgusting how scientists like these have no cares for the extinction of species which have no responsibility, but only defenseless victims of the madness of the human race.
Patrizia Gozzoli, Minneapolis, MN USA

The idea of human-induced climate change is entirely political in origin, and entirely sustained by politics. It is the new Lysenkoism, and may its demise be as rapid as the old one.
Clark Stiles, Grand Rapids MI USA

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