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News & Politics News & Politics

'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change

Posted by on Jun. 23, 2012 at 3:43 PM
  • 4 Replies

Two months ago, James Lovelock, the godfather of global warming, gave a startling interview to msnbc.com in which he acknowledged he had been unduly “alarmist” about climate change.

The implications were extraordinary.

Lovelock is a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist whose Gaia theory — that the Earth operates as a single, living organism — has had a profound impact on the development of global warming theory.

Unlike many “environmentalists,” who have degrees in political science, Lovelock, until his recent retirement at age 92, was a much-honoured working scientist and academic.

His inventions have been used by NASA, among many other scientific organizations.

Lovelock’s invention of the electron capture detector in 1957 first enabled scientists to measure CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and other pollutants in the atmosphere, leading, in many ways, to the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Having observed that global temperatures since the turn of the millennium have not gone up in the way computer-based climate models predicted, Lovelock acknowledged, “the problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago.” Now, Lovelock has given a follow-up interview to the UK’s Guardian newspaper in which he delivers more bombshells sure to anger the global green movement, which for years worshipped his Gaia theory and apocalyptic predictions that billions would die from man-made climate change by the end of this century.

Lovelock still believes anthropogenic global warming is occurring and that mankind must lower its greenhouse gas emissions, but says it’s now clear the doomsday predictions, including his own (and Al Gore’s) were incorrect.

He responds to attacks on his revised views by noting that, unlike many climate scientists who fear a loss of government funding if they admit error, as a freelance scientist, he’s never been afraid to revise his theories in the face of new evidence. Indeed, that’s how science advances.

Among his observations to the Guardian:

(1) A long-time supporter of nuclear power as a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which has made him unpopular with environmentalists, Lovelock has now come out in favour of natural gas fracking (which environmentalists also oppose), as a low-polluting alternative to coal.

As Lovelock observes, “Gas is almost a give-away in the U.S. at the moment. They’ve gone for fracking in a big way. This is what makes me very cross with the greens for trying to knock it … Let’s be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it.” (Kandeh Yumkella, co-head of a major United Nations program on sustainable energy, made similar arguments last week at a UN environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro, advocating the development of conventional and unconventional natural gas resources as a way to reduce deforestation and save millions of lives in the Third World.)

(2) Lovelock blasted greens for treating global warming like a religion.

“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion,” Lovelock observed. “I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use … The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”

(3) Lovelock mocks the idea modern economies can be powered by wind turbines.

As he puts it, “so-called ‘sustainable development’ … is meaningless drivel … We rushed into renewable energy without any thought. The schemes are largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant. I personally can’t stand windmills at any price.”

(4) Finally, about claims “the science is settled” on global warming: “One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.” 

Source

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Two more articles about James Lovelock's position are here and here.  Both very good reads.

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You don't have to be judgmental and be like "Oh, he's using his freedom the wrong way!  I want him to use his freedom the way I use my freedom!"  You can't do that. You have to be tolerant.  People say "Oh no, you can't be tolerant. What if they do something you don't like?" Tolerance does not mean endorsement.  -- Ron Paul
by on Jun. 23, 2012 at 3:43 PM
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Replies (1-4):
Clairwil
by Gold Member on Jun. 23, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Yes, I think it was about half way through last year that they announced that they now had pretty good evidence that the most extreme feedback scenarios (ie going to a Mars-like climate) were NOT going to happen.

Which is good news.  Humanity isn't going to be wiped out.  We're not going to go extinct from climate change.

But, before you break out the wine and party hats to celebrate, do bear in mind that they elliminated those by confirming the less extreme but still absolutely financially catastropic consensus scenario.

imagirlgeek
by Bronze Member on Jun. 23, 2012 at 6:28 PM
2 moms liked this

Dang it!  I had already popped the cork on the bottle, but the party hat is kind of uncomfortable.  :-)

Seriously though, I really enjoyed these articles because he admitted he was wrong about the urgency, but still recognizes that the improvements we are making are still a good thing to do.  I see a lot of value in always improving upon what we do and how we live.  I'm just not a fan of using panic and crisis to push an agenda.  Also not a fan of making grand changes as a reaction to something as complex and mysterious as nature.  

Quoting Clairwil:

Yes, I think it was about half way through last year that they announced that they now had pretty good evidence that the most extreme feedback scenarios (ie going to a Mars-like climate) were NOT going to happen.

Which is good news.  Humanity isn't going to be wiped out.  We're not going to go extinct from climate change.

But, before you break out the wine and party hats to celebrate, do bear in mind that they elliminated those by confirming the less extreme but still absolutely financially catastropic consensus scenario.


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You don't have to be judgmental and be like "Oh, he's using his freedom the wrong way!  I want him to use his freedom the way I use my freedom!"  You can't do that. You have to be tolerant.  People say "Oh no, you can't be tolerant. What if they do something you don't like?" Tolerance does not mean endorsement.  -- Ron Paul
Jambo4
by Gold Member on Jun. 23, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Nicely put ima

Quoting imagirlgeek:

Dang it!  I had already popped the cork on the bottle, but the party hat is kind of uncomfortable.  :-)

Seriously though, I really enjoyed these articles because he admitted he was wrong about the urgency, but still recognizes that the improvements we are making are still a good thing to do.  I see a lot of value in always improving upon what we do and how we live.  I'm just not a fan of using panic and crisis to push an agenda.  Also not a fan of making grand changes as a reaction to something as complex and mysterious as nature.  

Quoting Clairwil:

Yes, I think it was about half way through last year that they announced that they now had pretty good evidence that the most extreme feedback scenarios (ie going to a Mars-like climate) were NOT going to happen.

Which is good news.  Humanity isn't going to be wiped out.  We're not going to go extinct from climate change.

But, before you break out the wine and party hats to celebrate, do bear in mind that they elliminated those by confirming the less extreme but still absolutely financially catastropic consensus scenario.



 Find out more about Mitt Romney.
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asfriend
by on Jun. 23, 2012 at 6:54 PM
always the hoaxer


Quoting Clairwil:

Yes, I think it was about half way through last year that they announced that they now had pretty good evidence that the most extreme feedback scenarios (ie going to a Mars-like climate) were NOT going to happen.

Which is good news.  Humanity isn't going to be wiped out.  We're not going to go extinct from climate change.

But, before you break out the wine and party hats to celebrate, do bear in mind that they elliminated those by confirming the less extreme but still absolutely financially catastropic consensus scenario.


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