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What is Climate Change?
John Pratt’s recent post very clearly pointed out a major problem in the Climate Change debate – the parties simply indulge in name calling rather than identify and debate the real issues so as to come to a consensus. To overcome this, I’ve set out below what I think is the chain of logic in the debate. I’ve separated what is generally agreed, from the assumptions. I’ve numbered and highlighted what I believe are the eight assumptions made by climate change proponents. Deniers (or sceptics) are those who disagree with one or more of the assumptions.
What becomes immediately obvious is that there is more agreement than disagreement. Nevertheless, it has been said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and laying the issues out clearly explains why so many people are so cautious about the emissions trading bill.
The earth’s temperature fluctuates. Several periodic fluctuations are immediately noticeable, such as daily and seasonal cycles. There are also several longer term fluctuations. Short term fluctuations such as daily fluctuations are quite large, and can easily mask long term fluctuations, which are more subtle.
(i) We are currently experiencing a small but steady long-term increase in temperature of .02 degrees Centigrade per decade.
Many factors cause these fluctuations in temperature. One of the causes of temperature fluctuation is the effect of the atmosphere in trapping heat. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (Carbon) is one of several factors that increase the trapping of heat by the atmosphere. Atmospheric Carbon has fluctuated over the life of the planet. Atmospheric Carbon is currently in an upward phase.
Atmospheric Carbon is one stage in the carbon cycle, with Carbon being both released and absorbed into the atmosphere by many sources. Many systems have an ability to achieve stability –an increase in one dimension creates a countervailing force to return to stability.
(ii) Human activity (industrialisation) has caused a net increase in atmospheric Carbon.
(iii) Human activity causes more than 50% of the temperature increase.
There are both benefits and disadvantages to a warmer climate.
(iv) The disadvantages of a warmer climate hugely outweigh the advantages.The Solution
(v) Global warming is the most important problem facing humanity.
(v) The best solution to global warming available to us is to minimise atmospheric carbon.
Climate change is a global issue. The world’s climate affects everybody. It needs a global solution, since one country’s actions will affect others.
Currently, industry has been getting a free ride, by releasing excess CO2 into the atmosphere rather than treating it as a pollutant, to be controlled. If industry is to manage co2 release, it will increase manufacturing costs.
(vi) These increasing costs are an opportunity to transform industry with new solutions, creating jobs and opportunities.
A global carbon trading scheme was considered the best economic framework for controlling atmospheric carbon. However, particularly after the financial crisis, world countries were unwilling to put in place a trading scheme.
(vii) By Australia going it alone, achieving reductions greater than globally agreed, it can, by setting an example, ultimately make a difference to world climate.
(viii) Such changes would not only not adversely affect the current Australian economy, but benefit it in the future.