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No more denial. Time to act on climate change [Observer editorial 29th Sept]. The paper is right

November 10, 2013 3:56 PM

Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Ed Davey, has asserted that the Liberal Democrats are the greenest party ever to have served in Government and he was in a fight to make the coalition be the same. Ed has indeed got a fight on his hands. The scientific consensus on the impact of human activity on climate change is as solid as ever but Camerons 'Vote blue go green' manifesto of April 2006 is in tatters.

Climate change deniers have been furiously trying to rubbish the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [ IPCC] report, one of the most exhaustively scrutinised pieces of scientific research, which asserts that it is 95% certain that climate change is occurring & is caused by human actions. The deniers demonstrate their ignorance of how even simple things actually work in the real world. Anybody who has ever managed any kind of enterprise knows that you can set a target, perhaps to sell 1000extra widgets per month for the coming year. You can put a plan in place, which you have thought about long & hard & tested for robustness, which SHOULD get you from where you are to where you want to be with minimum disruption. But always there will be some deviation about the straight line which you had not planned for. An issue as complex as climate change, & what to do in the face of it, is bound to have substantial deviations from the expected. 'Deniers' simply make themselves look foolish by seizing on these deviations and granting them great general significance. For example a very important measure of global warming is the rate of loss of arctic sea ice in summer. In the summer of 2013 sea ice levels did not continue to drop but plateaued at a higher level than 2012. This is just a blip. Data gathered over decades reveals that the summer ice is declining by about 1.5m sq km every 10yrs. Winter ice cover has hardly changed which actually should come as no surprise to anyone that thinks about it.