A response to Benny Peiser

12 May 2005
Yesterday Benny Peiser published an article on openDemocracy in which he took issue with David King's view that climate change requires urgent and committed action now by government and others.

Here is a response to Benny Peiser posted in the forum today from Charlie Kronick, Chief Policy Advisor at Greenpeace UK (posted in this blog by Caspar Henderson):

Benny Peiser is entitled to his opinion, but remember it is his opinion and that of a very limited number of climate sceptics. "A recent survey among some 500 international climate researchers found that “a quarter of respondents still question whether human activity is responsible for the most recent climatic changes”. Really? Actually the survey was cited in a Der Speigel article written by two noted climate sceptics, with no references, no date and no context. Which scientists were surveyed, under what circumstances, what they do, where they work and their institutional affiliations are notably absent from both Peiser's citation and the Der Speigel article.

It would be wise to consider the scientific consensus on climate change from another angle. Late in 2004, Science published an analysius of 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change”. Of these 928 papers, 75% endorsed the consensus view that human activity was in fact significantly influencing the climate system. The other 25% examined methodology and the historical paleoclimate record and didn't take a view on human influence on the climate system. Not a single paper disagreed with the consensus (Oreskes 306 (5702): 1686) (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686).

Climate change does - and should - raise many significant questions on the nature of the best response to this huge social and environmental challenge. Wasting energy - and time - on whether it is really happening isn't just pointless, it cuts into the limited resources that decision makers currently make available to solve what is in fact one of the crucial challenges our age.

Charlie Kronick, Chief Policy Advisor, Greenpeace UK

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