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Editorial: Storm clouds over the climate change lobby

storm cloudsLast updated: March 11, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

We appear to have been battered to a submissive intellectual pulp by the climate change lobby, although it was only 35 years ago, when I interviewed the world’s principal climate experts for The Washington Post, that the consensus was the earth was cooling. Within a few decades, they have fundamentally changed their minds. How could this happen so quickly?

Has everyone already forgotten how the computer boffins told us that the world’s computers would crash at midnight at the start of the year 2000? Businesses, hospitals, universities, airlines and so forth spent a fortune to retool with new computers. On the dot of midnight of the new millennium … the old computers still worked perfectly well.

Alas, all too quickly, the false hype and panic were forgotten.

Now it seems that some of the evidence on global warming has been tampered with. An Indian government study shows that the Himalayan glaciers are not melting as rapidly as previous “research” had suggested. Evidence for a number of changes documented by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change has been shown to be misleading in important aspects.

Statistics have been simplified to the point of being misleading – whether on the evidence of melting glaciers or the state of the Amazon rainforest – and doubtless on many other issues that have yet to see the light of day.

Worst of all we now know, thanks to leaks to the press, that the supposedly high-flying, climate-research department at Britain’s University of East Anglia was manipulating evidence. I am not arguing that global warming is definitely not happening but that, in the 7,500 years that civilised man has walked the earth, there have been ups and downs in the climate. There have been ice ages and periods of warming, as every schoolchild knows, but they came and went at an almost imperceptibly slow pace.

Time is on humanity’s side. Let’s wait for a couple of decades to see if the evidence holds up. If there is global warming, we have time to measure its speed and intensity.

No one doubts there is terrible pollution and that the conventional car and truck should see their last day, or that factories should stop belching toxins. That issue should be tackled urgently, but not as part of the global warming debate.

The global warmers have been adept at muddling the climate debate by conflating it with the pollution issue and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of public opinion, the press and governments. And now the press and governments do the same thing.

All the funding planned for the fight against global warming should be spent instead on big problems that affect people today – especially the poor of the developing world, by abolishing malaria and polio, finding a vaccine for Aids, upgrading education and providing wells and clean drinking water.

Within a decade or two, all these problems could be solved for relatively small amounts of money. These should be the world’s priorities today.

Jonathan Power is a London-based journalist

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