A different planet...

I wonder which planet M Towns (“Follow the billions”, Opinion, June 5) is inhabiting.

His letter is typical of a group of people who employ selective use of statistics and misquotations to support a cause fuelled by emotion, vested interests, politics or wishful thinking rather than scientific fact.

He claims that the chairman of the International Committee on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that there had been no global warming for the past 17 years.

Here are the actual words of Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, speaking to a conference of business leaders in Calcutta on April 6 this year: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level ... human actions are now changing the earth’s climate before our very eyes.”

In an interview with Radio Australia on February 21 this year, Dr Pachauri said: “If we don’t do anything then clearly the impacts of climate change are going to be very serious and it’ll affect everyone.”

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He added that “taking action is really not expensive” and went on to demonstrate why that was so.

Globally, 2012 was the ninth warmest year on record, in spite of this being a La Niña year when global temperatures would have been expected to be below average.

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Each of the last 12 years (2001 to 2012) features as one of the 14 warmest on record. This is universally accepted fact because it is a conclusion drawn from huge amounts of data, carefully correlated and agreed by climatologists the world over.

While it is true that, in view of data which have recently been gathered, climatologists have slightly revised downwards the expected global warming in the short term, that does not apply to the medium or long term, and does not give us leeway to relax our efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Climate change is too serious a matter for playing games with.

For the sake of future generations, we need to be taking all environmental matters much more seriously than we are at present, and responding to the broad spectrum of data rather than picking bits which, on the face of it, might seem to support our own particular position.

John Ward


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