Standing against the consensus


Meteorologist Fred Singer is always amusing. He has a cheery disposition, and takes particular delight in teasing the likes of Al Gore when their enthusiasm gets the better of their reason. His Non-Government International Panel on Climate Change points out that melting glaciers and suchlike may be evidence of rising temperatures, but they are not evidence that human beings have caused them. And he states simply and confidently that human influence over the climate is insignificant.

The world has been much hotter, and much colder, long before we arrived on the scene. Carbon dioxide has been twenty times the level it is now. The sun – gushing out radiation, gas clouds, and magnetic fields – is a much more important cause of climate change. Carbon 14 and Oxygen 18 isotopes in ancient ice samples allow us to gauge both solar activity and temperature over the millennia; and indeed there is a strong correlation.

Singer has been in London, promoting his new report, Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate. The idea that human beings are causing climate change, he says, has produced damaging distortions in our energy policy – increasing our costs, damaging our economic growth and lowering our living standards. Instead, he says, since our activities have almost no influence on the climate, we should carry on using coal (and nuclear power) to generate electricity, and use our potentially-insecure supplies of natural gas for less strategic purposes such as transportation.

You might not agree with Singer, but it's hard to dislike the good-natured way he is prepared to stand up against the consensus.