"World gets warmer as climate talks start" was the title of a New Zealand Herald article yesterday. It asserts that "this year is likely to be among the 10 hottest years on record", and that "the decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) was warmer than the 1990s, which were warmer than the 1980s". A similar article screened on TVNZ the previous day. Various media outlets around the world also had similar articles.
There are two interesting things at play here. According to the article, instrumental climate recording began in 1850, so we are talking about only 160 years of observations; and the timing – this data has been released during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
It might just be me, but it seems no coincidence that an alarmist media release has occurred just before world leaders debate a new protocol to replace the Kyoto Protocol in a few years. If they need a reason to be able to introduce radical measures, this data will be a fantastic help.
Whichever side of the global warming debate you sit on (very few people are on the fence!), you can’t deny that average global temperature is increasing and has been doing so for at least the last 50 years, there is ample evidence to show this. But can we use data from only 160 years to make decisions that will affect the way each of us live our lives?
I’m certainly not saying that the conference in Copenhagen shouldn’t be happening, or that we shouldn’t all be doing our bit for the environment, just that we should treat every piece of information we receive – from both sides of the debate – with a healthy dose of skepticism and apply a little of our own intelligence and critical thinking before swallowing it up.
- Malcolm Barr
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