DCSIMG

Mike Haseler: No place for name-calling in debate

Recent extreme weather events in the UK have sparked impassioned debate surrounding climate change. Picture: PA

Recent extreme weather events in the UK have sparked impassioned debate surrounding climate change. Picture: PA

A recent survey of those participating in online forums showed that most of the 5,000 respondents were experienced engineers, scientists and IT professionals, most degree-qualified and around a third with post-graduate qualifications.

The survey, carried out by the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum, asked respondents for their views on CO² and the effect it might have on global temperatures.

The results were surprising: 96 per cent of respondents said that atmospheric CO² levels are increasing, with 79 per cent attributing the increase to man-made sources. Eighty-one per cent agreed global temperatures had increased over the 20th century and 81 per cent also agreed that CO² is a warming gas. But only 2 per cent believed that increases in CO² would cause catastrophic global warming.

So what’s going on? Above all, these highly qualified people – experts in their own spheres – look at the published data and trust their own analysis, so their views match the available data.

They agree that the climate warmed over the 20th century (this has been measured), that CO² levels are increasing (this too has been measured) and that CO² is a warming gas (it helps trap heat in the atmosphere and the effects can be measured).

Beyond this, the survey found that 98 per cent of respondents believe that the climate varies naturally and that increasing CO² levels won’t cause catastrophic warming.

Overwhelmingly, participants in this large-scale survey support the science. However, this is not how they have been portrayed in the media, with what are now shown to be false allegations of “denial”.

Climate and energy are important issues, not just for us today but for our children, so now we know the facts about so called “sceptics”, please let’s see an end to this name-calling.

Instead please start listening to those which this survey shows have the qualifications, experience and background to understand the real impacts of changing energy use on our economy: the basic science is right, but the models were not, and the very best “jury” I can imagine says we are unlikely to be heading toward a climate catastrophe.

• Mike Haseler is chairman of the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum

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