Matt Ridley is wrong to suggest that the latest Nature Geoscience paper on climate change means we should take the foot off the pedal in the fight against dangerous global warming (Opinion, 20 May). This paper is important but uses one of several methods available to estimate climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide (which Dr Otto is keen to point out). This research will add to the overall evidence base and the IPCC will report on recent research in its Fifth Assessment Report later this year.
Lord Ridley’s analysis also focuses in on the last decade and ignores longer term temperature changes over the last century and other known climate changes, such as increasing ocean heat content, rising sea level, declining Arctic sea-ice cover and retreating mountain glaciers all of which demonstrate that the Earth’s climate system as a whole is continuing to heat up. There is also increasing evidence of the risk of extreme weather events.
He also undersells the value of the global market for low carbon and environmental goods and services – worth £3.3trillion in 2010/11. There is similarly a failure to recognise the benefits of exploiting home-grown energy sources and cushioning consumers from wholesale fossil fuel prices.
Reducing global dependence on volatile fossil fuels is a huge challenge but one which will also create many opportunities. Waiting to see how the climate actually changes is not an option – by then it will be too late to reverse the damage.
Rt. Hon Gregory Barker
Minister of State for Climate Change