Theseare the questions and answers used as background for an interview with theUnivision network (Ms Lourdes Stephen) about Climate Change. The Englishportion of the interview ranged freely over these topics and more broadly. TheSpanish portion followed these Q & Aís closely. The project should bebroadcast in the middle of May.
Human activities can affectnatural systems such as the global climate. Because climate change is a complexand difficult issue, policymakers need an objective source of information aboutthe causes, its impacts, and possible responses.
The IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change (IPCC) was organized 20 years ago to provideinformation and advice about climate change. It uses published scientificliterature and does not conduct research.
Yes. My specialty isin the determination of the impacts of climate change. In order to determinethe impacts correctly, I must understand the science. I led IPCC work on fiveimpact analyses such as, Fisheries, Polar Regions, and Oceans.
Most scientists agree thatthere has been a warming of 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 C) in 150 years. IPCCscientists use computer models to predict temperatures, based on CO2 and othergases. Other scientists believe that the models are not accurate because theEarth system is too complex and important factors such as clouds cannot beaccurately included. They believe that CO2 is only part of the reason it iswarmer.
I think we need to considerif the projections make sense, a reality check. In 150 years, the temperaturehas increased only 1 deg. F ((0.6 C) and the ocean has risen about 20 cm (9in.). The ocean has been rising since the end of the last ice age, and thiswill continue. The warming has been mostly in the winter months and in the highnorthern latitudes, away from the equator. For most of us, there is morebenefit than harm. During the previous warm period between ice ages, there wasno ice at the North Pole and the ocean was 15 ft. (5 m) higher. CO2 has alsobeen much higher during the past. Just 1,000 years ago the Vikings grew grapesin Iceland, then the temperature became very cold for centuries.
I donít think warming is verybad. It will change many things, but we will still have food and water. It willbe bad for many types of plants and animals, but better for others. All theplants and animals, and humans, have endured warming and cooling before. It isa fact of life, living on the Earth. Things will be different, not necessarilybad. I studied the effects of global cooling during the 1970s, before we becameconcerned about warming. Warming is very much better than global cooling, asthe ancient Vikings learned.
I have worked in the IPCCprocess for many years. I think it is probably the best approach to find theanswers. The scientists really believe what they are saying. Of course thisdoes not make them correct. I think we need to accept their reports as valuableadvice about what could happen. We also need to listen to the other scientistswho disagree. There are many good arguments on both sides.
No one knows for surewhether the Earth is going to keep warming, or since reaching a peak 9 yearsago (1998), we are at the start of a cooling cycle that will last severaldecades or more. I think we will know more in a few years. We will know if themodels are true or false depending on whether the temperature falls or if itincreases, while CO2 continues to increase, as expected.
The scientists who disagreewith 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 arescientists working at universities or government agencies. The counter argumentis that most IPCC scientists receive government money that is based on fearabout climate change and so their reports have exaggerations. But, I thinknearly all scientists say and write only what they believe to be true.
Our economies competein a global market and we must protect them, but we also must be bettercustodians of our planet. We should use less energy of all types and we shoulduse more renewable and nuclear energy. As we use up all the oil and gas thatwas produced when the Earth was TRULY warm, and CO2 was TRULY high, the priceswill increase and we will use less. This is not far in the future. We shouldall be working to make this transition easy.
Thank you for theopportunity to discuss this important issue with you. Many people are promotinghysteria and fear and I am afraid we will destroy our society by doingsomething stupid that will have no benefit. I applaud Univision for recognizingthe debate has not ended. If anyone wishes more information, I invite them tomy website at
Dr. John T. Everett
On the web at