Climate change is still real - The Share Centre Blog

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Michael Baxter

Climate change is still real

Written by: Michael Baxter on January 11th 2013

Category: Thought for the day

And so the Met Office conceded that temperatures are not currently rising as fast it had previously predicted. And with that announcement, the climate change cynics come wading in, telling us how this shows yet again how the idea of anthropogenic climate change is a conspiracy theory advanced by tree huggers, and their spokesman Al Gore.  This cynical interpretation is not only wrong, it is very dangerous. Nonetheless, it does illustrate an opportunity for investors.

I was quite amused to note that the ‘Daily Mail’ took time out from trying to expose the myth of manmade climate change to running an article suggesting rogue states might use their ability to affect the climate as a kind of terrorism. I was less amused to note, in the same article, that scientists have come up with an idea to cancel out the warming effects of carbon dioxide emissions by pumping sulphur into the atmosphere. Apparently, for relatively modest cost of around $1-2 billion a year, it would be possible to inject a million tons of sulphur into the atmosphere. This would have the effect of dimming the sun. See: Could a rogue nation hijack climate change? New report warns of the danger 

So let’s see. We are already pumping massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and in so doing in just a few decades we are reversing a process that has been occurring for hundreds of millions of years, namely the formation of carbon based fossil fuels. Now we are considering trying to counter this effect this by pumping sulphur into the atmosphere. That strikes me as a tad risky.

I have another problem with the sulphur solution. It is in human nature not to be able to see the big picture. I sometimes think it is hardwired into our brains. That’s why successful business people can’t see that it’s a mistake to compare the macro economy with a household’s finances. And that’s why we can’t see that our individual actions, when magnified across the world, can affect something as apparently indestructible as the atmosphere.

What scientists have come to realise is that the factors that influence the weather and global temperatures are even more complex than had previously been thought. In particular they have become aware of a number of cycles, usually involving the movement of heat between the oceans and the atmosphere. ‘New Scientist’ magazine says the ocean acts as huge heat sink, and absorbs around 90 per cent of the heat generated by greenhouse gases.

But the point is this. The current thinking is that this natural cycle may have had the effect of pushing up temperature in the 1990s, and pushing down temperature over the last decade or so. So ten years ago, when temperate had been rising fast, the evidence of manmade climate change seemed overwhelming. In fact many of these increases were down to other factors.

And yet, despite this, the Met Office still thinks average temperatures in 2017 will be 0.43 degrees higher than the average between 1970 and 2000. Despite all this, the Met Office still thinks the 2000-2009 decade was the warmest on record.

Look at it this way. If cyclical factors were pushing down temperature, but temperatures rose anyway, just think what might happen when cyclical factors push temperature up.

I have a concern that the relatively modest increases in temperature during the last decade fooled us; led to complacency.

The lesson of the finance crisis of 2008 was that unsustainable practices that had been occurring for years can blow up virtually overnight. I fear it might be much the same for the climate.

But this sense of complacency means the development of renewables has slowed. The rising tide of cynicism over wind farms is part of this. Imagine the human race has kind of global consciousness. Right now, this consciousness is largely unaware of the problems in the making. When the penny drops, expect to see a new almost mad scramble to develop renewable energy, and perhaps nuclear energy as well. As an investor, if you want to benefit from the blinkered vision that is currently permeating our species, get ready to pounce, for very soon we will see an explosion in activity involving any form of burgeoning technology that does not involve poisoning the atmosphere with carbon dioxide or – in the case of shale gas and fracking – methane.

These views and comments are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Share Centre, its officers and employees

Tags: anthropogenic climate change, climate change cyclical factors, climate change sulphur, complacency climate change, conspiracy theory Al Gore

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