Ramesh Sujanani,Guest Columnist
The threat of serious climate change and growing global warming has been the concern of many governments over the past 15 years. It was feared that the overall global climate would increase in temperature and the earth would warm so rapidly that ice caps would melt and seas rise, resulting in flooding of many sea-coast cities all over the world. Then populations would have to be moved, causing severe dislocation and distress in many ways.
Between the United Nations (UN) and meteorological services throughout the world, a decision was made to gather some of the most competent scientists in this field, including meteorologists, politicians, and environmentalists. The intention was to keep a watch over the climate changes and predict the times and effects of these changes. In the meantime, speculation was rife and many an observed weather system would somehow be blamed on global warming; with explanations being offered from all corners of the globe.
One has to realise that many governments planned their future operations believing the accuracy of the information received from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and implemented a climate 'policy'; carbon dioxide warming effects, nitrous oxide and methane, power equipment, fuel emissions practice. Then increased hurricane effects and frequency leading to possible damage were analysed.
In fact, none of the conclusions were accurate, and it seemed the IPCC, which is what the UN called the climate watchdog, could not see the ice for the water. Not only were the conclusions inaccurate, but collected computer data of the changes were interpreted incorrectly, leading to a situation where 1990s predictions forecasted twice as much global warming than actually occurred (Nature Climate Change & Mail Online).
Climate projections had been going along more or less as predicted some 10 years ago, in Al Gore's time, when he brought the world's attention to global warming, at the beginning of the 21st century (2000), when the trend stopped. Then this pause in trend, this absence of a pattern, a hiatus as it is being termed, had to be explained by the climate scientists at the IPCC. Then a leaked report indicated that there was no upcoming disaster. In fact, temperatures were only increasing at 0.05 degrees Celsius per decade, instead of 0.20 degrees as said.
The main opposite opinion was that of Professor Judy Curry, head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, USA, who pointed out that the science was not quite settled, it was still in a state of flux. She further said it was no sense that the IPCC claimed that it had confidence in its own forecasts and conclusions: One that points out that human influence caused more than half of the temperature increases (IPCC report, Dot. earth, 27/09).
In the course of last week, the IPCC scientists met in Stockholm to resolve the inconsistencies and answer the queries of 195 governments that fund the IPCC, to ensure that overall scientific conclusions would be justified, and to explain away the occurrence of the hiatus (the pause).
The scientists from the conference concluded that global warming is man-made with at least 95% certainty; this is up from 90% from a 2007 report. It appears that a recent slowdown in warming is unlikely to last if there is an increase in greenhouse gases caused by fossil fuel burning; and it is the human factor in the burning of fossil fuels which is contributing to the global warming. This is what apparently caused the hiatus; a reduction in fossil fuels, which now, if ignored, will cause a higher rate of warming.
The maximum allowable limit should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius per decade, and the variations are within mankind's scope to ignore or actively reduce. The only alternative to controlling fossil fuel combustion is finding alternative energy sources.