I found this the other day whilst browsing YouTube. It’s an interview with James Lovelock from two years back about his book ‘The Vanishing Face of Gaia‘ (which I’ve reviewed on this blog and would strongly recommend anyone to read.)
The reason why I came across this was because I decided it might be good to do a search for some material on this most visionary of scientists. I’d just been reading some ‘guff’ from the ‘Climate Sceptic Brigade’ about how climate change – being a ‘natural process’ – is not necessarily a threat anyway, especially as CO2 is actually a benign gas that is essential to life. It was Nigel Lawson, in fact, who stated all this. A great Chancellor and Economist, admittedly, but not exactly a great authority on global warming methinks. (The other was David Bellamy, who I watched being brilliantly ‘pulled apart’ by George Monbiot on the Channel 4 News back in 2005.)
It’s not that I disagree entirely with them. Climate Change does occur naturally and CO2 is an essential life-sustaining gas. It’s just that I can’t help feeling that Lord Lawson is talking complete nonsense when he says ergo it is not a pollutant. Anything is a pollutant if there is too much of it introduced into an ecosystem! Come on! He’s basically worried that measures undertaken to offset Global Warming might harm our prospects for economic growth. He’s right here too, but that’s the price we pay I suppose!
James Lovelock is still, for me the best authority on what’s going on with Climate Change. He’s an independent scientist (still, even in his 90s) and therefore has no loyalty to any particular government or scientific institution to maintain. He effectively ‘tells it like it is!’ And the outlook is not great. He doesn’t deny that Warming is a natural process. After all, he states that its occurred seven times since humans have been on the planet. What’s more, we have faced such near-extinction events before. At one point, our population dropped to about 2000 souls.
However, he does state that Global Warming can be anthropogenically-initiated and that, due to the fact that the Earth is a ‘positive feedback’ system, this will accelerate natural emission processes until the system is more stable. This is when the global mean temperature is a lot higher. The consequences of this will be disastrous for human civilisation. The real rub is that the damage is already done, so there’s not much we can do to reverse it now (although he does suggest some positive action could be taken to mitigate the effects with carbon sequestering.)
In another video (to which I’ll post another link/embedding soon), he compares the whole situation to our use of fossil fuels as the equivalent of finding a loaded gun and pulling the trigger. Oops! Wish we’d left the safety catch on!! Professor Lovelock suggests that, really, we should all just enjoy it while we still can. So in this respect, both sides of the argument have got it wrong. The liberal-left wing ‘greens’ who think we can ‘save’ the Earth by cutting emissions and switching to renewables (won’t make a jot of difference.) And the right-wing anti- AGW conspiracy theorists who make out either it isn’t happening, or that it is but it’s a natural, harmless process (oh yes it is and oh no it isn’t!!)
So there you go, Lord Lawson. May as well carry on as we are and still keep producing and consuming as we are stuffed anyway (until oil becomes more scarce of course!) Don’t you just love hubris? All sides are affected by it it seems.
Deep down, I hope Lovelock is proved wrong – but he’s too credible an authority to think that he’s not.
Oh, and if you get chance, please read some of the comments for this video on the actual YouTube site. Some of the comments about Lovelock are extremely insulting and scurrilous! For instance, one ‘genius’ pours scorn on his assertion about the seven occasions of warming occurring since humans were on the planet. This towering intellect stated something along the lines that cavemen wouldn’t have been able to burn fossil fuels in the way we do so how could it have happened? Never heard of volcanoes, I presume? As Gwynne Dyer stated is his excellent ‘Climate Wars’ book, we have now become the equivalent of volcanoes. And someone else comparing this venerable scientist to some misanthropic socialist neo-fascist. Pardon? Please, if you’re going to argue against his point of view lets have some form of intelligent rebuttal!
They say the truth hurts…