Letters: Frosty reception over climate change denial

Michael Fry's bizarre and uninformed article, "There'll be cold comfort in Cancun" (Perspective, 4 December), provides a prime example of the worrying trend to ignore science in the public debate on climate change.

Fry's dismissal of climate change is based entirely on his observation of "two successive winters of record snow and cold" - even though he claims to accept that the previous decade showed considerable warming.

As a respected historian, one might hope he would appreciate the fact that short-term fluctuations say nothing about long-term trends. And, frankly, he embarrasses himself by basing most of his argument on anecdotal evidence from his own direct experience, which I assume is in his mind more reliable than the global network of calibrated instruments, satellite observations and historical records on which climate science is based (hypocritically, he accuses UK ministers at Cancun of doing the same thing).

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But Fry is not interested in science, and in fact the word is not used once in his article. Instead he sees climate change as nothing but a "big, leftist theory". It's true that some left-leaning groups have adopted scientific findings for their own advantage, and they often get their facts wrong. But it is disappointing on Fry's part to ignore the science, and to imply (in my reading of it) that the politics came first. Does he genuinely believe, like innumerous internet conspiracy theorists, that thousands of disparate scientists scattered across the globe who have found evidence for warming over several decades all did so for some common political agenda?

Yes there are uncertainties in the science, and many qualified sceptics (I include myself in this group to some degree), but the fact that such a diverse group of people have all reached similar conclusions cannot be ignored, whether you fully understand the science or not.

Climatology is perhaps unique among scientific fields in having produced strong evidence that our way of life is having adverse effects on the world, so it is inevitable it has become embroiled in politics. But the raison d'etre of any good scientist is striving to be objective and rational. It is insulting to tar them with the same brush as impulsive political radicals, and even more so to ignore them completely.


Postdoctoral research assistant, the University of Edinburgh School of Geosciences

Mr FRY'S thesis might reasonably be summarised as follows: it is snowing outside my house; it hasn't snowed like this for years. I gather it has been snowing elsewhere too. Global warming cannot be happening.

The UK covers 0.05 per cent of the world's surface. Mr Fry's front doorstep rather less. Over the whole northern hemisphere, last winter was the fifth-warmest on record. In the southern hemisphere, the summer was the warmest on record.In the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 2010, an assessment of the weight of opinion on climate change within the climate science community was made. Some 97-98 per cent of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field supported the views expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that man-made warming was happening. Mr Fry doesn't explain why we should prefer his thesis over the experts.


Dalkeith Street


When some of our unscrupulous ancestors realised that if they frighten the most gullible they could get them to react completely out of character, they decided to blame abnormal weather conditions on the behaviour of witches, to convince the gullible that all witches should be burnt at the stake. So when today's "climate change" soothsayers set out to frighten the gullible we shouldn't be too surprised that they also react violently, or are the "greens" using the predicable behaviour of the most gullible (today's climate extremists) as part of their left-wing plan to change the world?



Conwy, Wales