by Roger Childs
In the late 20th century the United Nations predicted that as a result of global warming many coastal areas, notably in Bangladesh, would be under water by 2020. It hasn’t happened. So do we have a problem? Our government thinks so. We have a Climate Change Minister, a Climate Emergency has been declared and the young people have recently demonstrated about the dangers. The main issues are rising sea levels, increasing temperatures and humans pumping more greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, into the air.
Climate change has been happening for millions of years with intermittent ice ages interspersed with warming and cooling periods. We are currently in a very gradual warming phase. NIWA data shows that from 1900 to 2008 sea levels rose by 1.7mm a year, and that in the 110 years from 1909 to 2019 the overall increase in average temperature was 1.13º Celsius. This is hardly scary stuff. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased since the industrial revolution, but the gas comprises only 0.04% of the atmosphere. CO₂ is essential for human survival and plant growth being the key element in the carbon cycle, so more is good.
Every extreme weather-induced event – storms, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, droughts – gets blamed on climate change. But these have always happened. Fundamentally we have nothing to fear from the natural, eternal process of changes in weather and climate.
(This was composed as a Letter to the Editor of the DomPost)