In the South West we are represented in the European Parliament by six MEPs one of whom is Dr Julia Reid who is also the UKIP science spokesperson. MEPs represent us in the parliament and are responsible for passing European laws, establishing the EU budget, etc.
UKIP policy is not just Euro-sceptic it is also climate-sceptic and firmly rejects climate science and advocates the use of fossil fuels including fracking. In the European Parliament debate on the outcome of the recent Paris Climate Conference, at which the world’s nations committed to act to avoid dangerous climate change, Dr Reid gave a speech in which she repeats a number of well known climate myths frequently used by UKIP and the fossil fuel PR machine.
Let’s see if Dr Reid’s assertions have any basis or if they are well known myths debunked by the scientific community.
Dr Reid’s Myth 1 – “… there has been no warming since 1997… ”
This is a well worn climate myth championed by Lord Lawson’s fossil fuel lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation quoted in the UKIP policy documents.
The myth cherry picks by using a starting point of a hot El Nino year (it is normally 1998 not 97) and ignores the fact that the land, the atmosphere and melting ice only account for about 3% of total warming with most of the rest being taken up by the oceans.
Source Met Office
But let’s hear it from a geeky climate scientist:
NB in February 2016 we are towards the end of the latest El Niño event.
To study climate we have direct climate measurements for the past 250 years or so and we also have proxy measurements covering millions of years.
Dr Reid’s Myth 2 – “Current records are all too brief, even 250 years is insufficient time for a meaningful assessment of long term climate patterns”
This myth ignores the fact that we have a multitude of climate data sources in addition to recent direct measurements, including ice cores, tree rings, lake sediments, knowledge of orbit variations, etc.
Let’s hear it from another climate scientist:
The climate has changed greatly over geological time and science has a good idea of why these changes have taken place.
Dr Reid’s Myth 3 – “I don’t dispute there has been climate change, there has been for thousands of years. A thousand years ago we had the Medieval warm period, before that we had the Roman warm period, before that we had the late Egyptian warm period and before that the Minoan warm period.“.
These warm periods were caused by a combination of factors including the Earth’s orbit, volcanic activity and solar output and are understood by science. Science also understands that the dominant factor causing warming now is the greenhouse effect caused by manmade CO2 emissions and that the other natural factors are currently secondary.
Let’s hear it from a climate scientist:
Variations in the Sun’s output are an obvious factor in the Earth’s climate but science knows that a) the current warming is caused by atmospheric CO2 concentrations not the Sun and b) the Sun is currently entering a quite cooling period, not a warming period.
Dr Reid’s Myth 4 – “All these [warm periods] actually coincide with the Sun’s activity. We’ve seen that cooling has actually started to happen since the solar cycle 24 decreased and the sun is very inactive at the moment in fact some solar scientists forecast that we are actually heading for another Maunder minimum”
Dr Reid is attributing past warm periods to variations in the Sun’s output whilst at the same time ignoring the fact that despite the Sun currently entering a cool phase temperatures are rising. She rationalises this by denying that temperatures are rising.
But let’s hear it from a climate scientist:
Dr Reid’s climate scepticism is not just her opinion, it is stated UKIP policy. It is also a counter narrative to the global science community’s robust analysis of the full range of evidence which has been accepted by the nations of the world in the Paris Climate Agreement which aims to avert dangerous anthroprogenic climate change.
Are you happy to be represented in the European Parliament by proponents of climate ignorance, no matter what party they come from?
The science videos in this posting are all from the University of Queensland, Australia.
Let’s hear it from Sir David Attenborough:
Alternative views are available: