Interview on Climate Change
4 May 2007
Arlington, Virginia USA
These are the questions and answers used as background for an interview with the Univision network (Ms Lourdes Stephen) about Climate Change. The English portion of the interview ranged freely over these topics and more broadly. The Spanish portion followed these Q & Aís closely. The project should be broadcast in the middle of May.
Human activities can affect natural systems such as the global climate. Because climate change is a complex and difficult issue, policymakers need an objective source of information about the causes, its impacts, and possible responses.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was organized 20 years ago to provide information and advice about climate change. It uses published scientific literature and does not conduct research.
Yes. My specialty is in the determination of the impacts of climate change. In order to determine the impacts correctly, I must understand the science. I led IPCC work on five impact analyses such as, Fisheries, Polar Regions, and Oceans.
∑ Over the next 100 years, the temperature will rise by 3 deg. C (5 F), most of the rise will be away from the equator, and the ocean should rise 0.3 meters ( 1 ft.)
∑ Also, ocean acidity should rise, making it more difficult for corals and other animals to make shells; hurricanes should become stronger; heat waves and heavy rain should be more frequent; there will be less ice and snow; and there should be more rain away from the equator.
Most scientists agree that there has been a warming of 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 C) in 150 years. IPCC scientists use computer models to predict temperatures, based on CO2 and other gases. Other scientists believe that the models are not accurate because the Earth system is too complex and important factors such as clouds cannot be accurately included. They believe that CO2 is only part of the reason it is warmer.
I think we need to consider if the projections make sense, a reality check. In 150 years, the temperature has increased only 1 deg. F ((0.6 C) and the ocean has risen about 20 cm (9 in.). The ocean has been rising since the end of the last ice age, and this will continue. The warming has been mostly in the winter months and in the high northern latitudes, away from the equator. For most of us, there is more benefit than harm. During the previous warm period between ice ages, there was no ice at the North Pole and the ocean was 15 ft. (5 m) higher. CO2 has also been much higher during the past. Just 1,000 years ago the Vikings grew grapes in Iceland, then the temperature became very cold for centuries.
I donít think warming is very bad. It will change many things, but we will still have food and water. It will be bad for many types of plants and animals, but better for others. All the plants and animals, and humans, have endured warming and cooling before. It is a fact of life, living on the Earth. Things will be different, not necessarily bad. I studied the effects of global cooling during the 1970s, before we became concerned about warming. Warming is very much better than global cooling, as the ancient Vikings learned.
I have worked in the IPCC process for many years. I think it is probably the best approach to find the answers. The scientists really believe what they are saying. Of course this does not make them correct. I think we need to accept their reports as valuable advice about what could happen. We also need to listen to the other scientists who disagree. There are many good arguments on both sides.
No one knows for sure whether the Earth is going to keep warming, or since reaching a peak 9 years ago (1998), we are at the start of a cooling cycle that will last several decades or more. I think we will know more in a few years. We will know if the models are true or false depending on whether the temperature falls or if it increases, while CO2 continues to increase, as expected.
The scientists who disagree with IPCC are often accused of being paid by oil companies or other industries. This is not true for nearly all of them. Many are retired professors or are scientists working at universities or government agencies. The counter argument is that most IPCC scientists receive government money that is based on fear about climate change and so their reports have exaggerations. But, I think nearly all scientists say and write only what they believe to be true.
Our economies compete in a global market and we must protect them, but we also must be better custodians of our planet. We should use less energy of all types and we should use more renewable and nuclear energy. As we use up all the oil and gas that was produced when the Earth was TRULY warm, and CO2 was TRULY high, the prices will increase and we will use less. This is not far in the future. We should all be working to make this transition easy.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this important issue with you. Many people are promoting hysteria and fear and I am afraid we will destroy our society by doing something stupid that will have no benefit. I applaud Univision for recognizing the debate has not ended. If anyone wishes more information, I invite them to my website at http://ClimateChangeFacts.info .
Dr. John T. Everett
On the web at