A few days ago, the letter below was published in The Irish Times, Ireland’s most respected newspaper:
Sir, – I’ll believe in global warming when I don’t have to turn on my central heating in mid-June. – Yours, etc,
As the short statement contains three common misunderstandings, I thought it worthwhile to respond. My response is published in The Irish Times today :
Sir, – Peter Stapleton writes “I’ll believe in global warming when I don’t have to turn on my central heating in mid-June” (June 16th). This short statement contains three classic errors:
1. Weather is not climate. Mr Stapleton has confused a wet summer in Ireland with longterm trends in global climate.
2. There is now a great deal of evidence pointing towards a gradual increase in the average surface temperature of the earth and its oceans, an increase that is strongly linked to carbon emissions. Recent data from MET Éireann show a warming in Ireland in line with this global trend.
3. Climate change is not a question of belief, it is a question of science. The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that global warming has the potential to affect the lives of many millions of people, from widespread flooding in some countries to permanent drought in others.
Sadly, one suspects Mr Stapleton’s misapprehensions are shared by a great many political leaders worldwide. – Yours, etc,
Lecturer in Physics,
Waterford Institute of Technology.
All in all, I think the two letters sum up the challenges of communicating climate science. Could it be that mankind will one day face devastating cimate change, all because we couldn’t distinguish between weather and climate?
Flooding in Bangladesh: soon to be permanent?
Drought in Africa: more frequent and severe?