ON-LINE DEBATE

30 July 1998

Professor Philip Stott, Professor of Biogeography, University of London


Dr Ute Collier, the Climate Change Policy Officer of WWF-UK, in her attack on Dr Thomas Gale Moore's views on global warming in The Times, May 14 wants to convince us that climate change can be made less severe by the manipulation of a single factor, carbon dioxide.

The reality is that climate is governed by millions of variables, from volcanoes to sunspots, and it will continue to change, both gradually and catastrophically, whatever we do about carbon-dioxide emissions. Accordingly, I do not like being told that anybody who criticises her approach refuses to accept the concept of global warming because they have "vested interests". My only vested interest is in the truth.

Dr Collier's arguments should be rejected on scientific grounds, and because they miss the point so well emphasised by Dr Moore - ie, that humans survive climate change not by trying to play God with one or two chosen variables, but by constant economic, social and political adaptation.

The current over-emphasis on the possible role of greenhouse-gas emissions is a distraction from the urgent necessity of developing better approaches to risk-assessment in the face of constant change.

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