Climate change campaigners can take heart

Climate change campaigners can take heart this summer, after what has been a difficult few months, but should not take their eyes off the ball.

Three independent reviews have now clearly supported the science of the Climate Research Unit, based at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK, whose email exchanges were illegally released into the media earlier this year. Those critics who claimed these showed collusion and conspiracy among researchers were proved wrong – there was no evidence of misconduct.

In the latest independent review Sir Muir Russell states that the ‘rigour and honesty’ of the climate scientists was not in doubt, although he does say that they failed in ‘openness’.

It is important at this point to acknowledge the existence of a small group of climate-change deniers who are working hard to discredit the science through a mixture of dirty tricks, spin and inaccurate representation of scientific views. Some of these have links to fossil-fuel companies, part of a clear strategy to undermine on action on climate change.

It may be difficult to predict exactly what a changed climate will look like in detail, but this does not prove that climate change is not happening. Scientists can confidently predict that increases in global average temperature will cause more unpredictable and extreme weather, change rainfall patterns and melt glaciers, permafrost and other ice.

Indeed, pastoralists in Kenya are already struggling with droughts that have increased in incidence four-fold over the past 25 years. And communities in Honduras face hurricanes that are significantly more frequent and severe than before, even allowing for natural variations.

So, the need for Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to continue to campaign on behalf of those who are already experiencing climate change is as strong as ever. Despite the failure of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, we continue to campaign.

And the public is still behind us. An Ipsos Mori / Cardiff University poll in June 2010 showed that almost three quarters (71%) of Britons are still concerned about climate change. A similar number (70%) believe it is their responsibility to act on climate change, whilst 63% thought they could change their behaviour to help.

In Scotland, a recent Scotsman poll (by George Street Research, published 6 July 2010) showed that 72 per cent of respondents thought that global warming was caused by human activity.

This should encourage us to pick ourselves up and carry on. We have an ambitious Climate Change Act in Scotland. We will work hard to ensure this is implemented, and to ensure that a fair and binding international climate agreement is reached too.


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