So, Peter Singleton from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency claims there is now no such thing as "natural" weather (Top Scottish scientist: there is no such thing as natural weather ...
it's all man-made; News, July 15). Faced with the reality that average temperatures are failing to match the catastrophic pronouncements of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, apologists for this view are clutching at any straw that happens to drift past. The Sunday Herald is, unfortunately, guilty of compounding this by publishing a list of all the negative impacts of this so-called summer. If we believe this story, we're all doomed, and it's all our fault.
Certainly, we humans influence weather patterns, not least through deforestation (now a thing of the past in this part of the world) and building cities (the well-known Urban Heat Island effect). The modest amount of warming likely to have been caused by carbon-dioxide emissions (which by no stretch of the imagination could be called pollution) is well within the range of climatic change the earth has experienced over the last few thousand years.
According to Mr Singleton, the present unusual weather is "entirely consistent" with climate changes due to human impact. So, doubtlessly, would be hot, dry summers of the kind we have been warned to expect: everything seems to be attributed to carbon-dioxide emissions at the moment. In the meantime, it seems equally probable that the earth is moving into a cooling phase as continuing to enjoy modest warming. We simply don't know, and to pretend otherwise – particularly by spreading messages about inevitable catastrophe – is not helpful.
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