30 Oct 2011

Two reports: one worrying and one hopeful

Two reports - the first on climate change and the second on meeting our energy needs.....

It was interesting to read this last week parts of the new independent study, The Berkeley Earth project - a climate change report for the climate skeptics. This new study reinforces the evidence that the Earth's climate is heating up. It shows that a number of skeptic arguments, such as the "heat island effect" of the world's major conurbations, cannot explain away climate change.

The study is also important because it uses a huge data set and shows the long term trend over a time period of about two centuries. Skeptics often leap on events such as a cold winter in a particular location to try and disprove climate change and in so doing reveal a total lack of scientific understanding. Climate can be defined as weather averaged over 30 years. So as this blog and common sense says, climate change does not mean that every year will be hotter than the previous one - or that it will not snow any more.

Green Party Science and Technology Spokesperson commented: "The Green Party was arguing that climate change was a serious issue decades ago - long before the other parties took an interest and at a time when the issue was rarely in the news. This was because then - and now - the Green Party tries to use the best evidence available to back up its policies, rather than taking a pre-determined position and trying to get "facts" to fit. The tragedy in all of this is that despite the overwhelmingly strong scientific evidence than human society is altering the planet’s atmosphere, causing it to heat up, and the urgent need for action, far too little is being done to head off what we remain on course for - dangerous climate change. Skeptic organisations such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation continue to cherry pick so called "facts" to suit their cause but hopefully this study will start to erode even the strongest of doubters."

In sharp contrast to that report, good news came out this week in new research suggesting that up to 90% of the UK's electricity could come from wind, solar, tidal and other sustainable sources by 2030 - without the need for nuclear power. The report was commissioned by WWF, entitled "Positive Energy: How renewable electricity can transform the UK by 2030", calls for greater political will to drive investment in renewables, and also highlights the importance of efficiency measures in keeping energy bills down.

Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas MP said: "This compelling report is a wake-up call for the Government to stop the anti green forces in the Coalition from scaling back ambition on the UK's climate and renewables targets - and undermining investor confidence in clean industries. It shows that, with proper investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, we can wean the UK off dirty fossil fuels and vastly improve our energy security - as well as create a whole new generation of skilled green jobs. The WWF research is a valuable addition to the growing body of evidence proving that the jobs-rich, low carbon infrastructure of the future can be both good for the planet and for the economy."

Download the report at: http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/positive_energy_final_designed.pdf

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