Of all the stories I’ve seen over the New Year, the most alarming was your short report (1 January) that global temperatures are set to increase by up to 5 degrees C by 2100 and 8 degrees C by 2200.
This is the conclusion of a study by the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
The centre corrected previous errors in calculating the effect of clouds on global warming. Of all the known threats to the survival of our civilisation, this is the most serious, and it is worse than we thought.
The failure of the world’s governments to agree on any meaningful plan to cut CO2 (and other) emissions probably means that it is already too late to stop runaway global warming.
CO2 is being added at the rate of about 3 ppm (parts per million a year) and has already reached 400 ppm. At that rate it will reach over 660 ppm by 2100 (nearly 1,000 ppm by 2200), a CO2 concentration not seen for millions of years.
Even if all emissions stopped today, it would take 1,000 years before the temperature began to decline. Meanwhile, what will happen to mankind? Melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps will lead to further rises in sea level, drowning some islands and many major coastal cities.
The oceans will become so acidic that much of the life in them will become extinct. Tropical heat will force many people to move somewhere cooler and perhaps we will all have to move to the Arctic.
However, this scenario of doom is not inevitable. There is a technical fix, to the temperature at least, but it will involve huge international co-operation and expenditure on some form of geo-engineering, allowing more time to tackle the emissions problem.
I predict that the international community will not turn to this fix, or even agree on emission reductions, until faced with incontrovertible evidence: probably the inundation of New York or Shanghai.
The wind constraint payments situation may be even worse than reported by Dr John Constable (letters 2 January).
At this time of year solar panels in Scotland obviously produce no power whatsoever when it is most needed.
The corollary is that any power they do produce in daylight hours is excess to requirement so something else has to shut down.
Are we paying Morecambe to produce the electricity for which we are at the same time paying Wise a bit more not to produce?
(Dr) A McCormick