Friday, December 30, 2016

Trump and Climate Change

Its been a long time since it was deemed respectable in the world of climate change science to question the 'orthodoxy' that climate change is the biggest threat the human race faces, and that it's all a result of man polluting the atmosphere with carbon emissions. Anyone not joining in the Armageddon competition of disastrous consequences for our world has been thought anti-science. Even called a "denier", a truly offensive insult bearing in mind the connotations associated with the word. While I've never doubted that our climate is changing, as it always has, and over last few decades has been warming, I do think the anticipation of impending disaster has been overdone. And the vilification of anyone, including scientists who challenge the orthodoxy is .... well unscientific. To win an argument by silencing the other side is no victory at all. I took some stick for simply daring to go to a lecture given my Matt Ridley a few weeks ago.

Donald Trump's arrival in the White House is going to blow this 'orthodoxy' out of the window. Those who think fear of an impending climate change doom has been overdone will be back at the scientific discussion table. Personally, while I've never been impressed by the warnings of "X number of days to save the world" or the calls to wreck our UK economy while other states pay no more than lip service, I do worry about some of what Mr Trump has been saying. He's called 'climate change' a hoax. It's certainly not. He's appointed to key positions men straight out of 'Southfork Ranch'. It's clear that Mr Trump intends to put jobs and economic growth before policies to decarbonise. I wonder if he knows about the Paris Agreement.

We will have to wait and see what Donald Trump actually does in office, rather than what he tells us he's going to do. I would be very surprised if he were to turn his back on policies to limit climate change altogether. Even if he doesn't believe it's for real, I'd expect him to adopt some decarbonisation policy as an insurance against the possibility that he might be wrong. I'm equally sure he will give a bigger platform to sceptics. Our climate change scientists will once more be involved in a debate about science rather than what sometimes seems like a religious belief.

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