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IPCC: Lawson wrong about climate change

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
Last Updated: 6:01pm BST 15/04/2008

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Climate change will make almost everyone in the world worse off after 2050, scientists have warned.

  • Lord Lawson claims climate change hysteria heralds a 'new age of unreason'
  • 'IPCC seriously underplays climate change'
  • Climate experts predict temperature drop
  • Rising temperatures may benefit countries such Britain in the coming decades, with higher crop growth and fewer deaths from cold, according to members of the Nobel prize-winning body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The village duck pond at Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, dried out in 2006
    The village duck pond at Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, begins to refill after drying out in 2006

    But by 2100 the changed weather pattern of floods, droughts and sea level rise will mean losers nearly everywhere, they added.

    Scientists from the IPCC were responding to suggestions by the former Chancellor, Lord Lawson, in a new book that warming might not be disastrous for the planet and for many it might be beneficial.

    In his book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, Lord Lawson accepts the IPCC's conclusion that we can expect to see a warming of between 3.2ºF (1.8ºC) and 7.2ºF (4ºC) by the end of this century.

    But he adds that this would not necessarily be the disaster requiring an immediate cut in carbon emissions that IPCC scientists say it is.

    Lord Lawson, who is not a scientist, writes: "Gradual and moderate warming brings benefits as well as incurring costs. These benefits and costs will not, of course, be felt uniformly throughout the world; the colder regions of the world will be more affected by the benefits, and the hotter regions by the costs.


    "But overall, it is far from clear that the inhabitants of the planet as a whole would suffer a significant net cost, or indeed any cost at all."

    However, Jean Palutikof, one of the authors of a new IPCC report, said: "By the time you get past 2050 the winners become fewer and fewer. By 2100, we will be losing almost everywhere."

    Its paper on Climate Change and Water says that the frequency of heavy rainfall has already increased over most areas and globally the area of land classified as "very dry" has more than doubled since the 1970s.

    The frequency of heavy rainfall is predicted to increase over most areas during this century. At the same time the proportion of land surface in extreme drought at any one time is projected to increase, according to the report.

    There would also be a decline in water stored in glaciers and permanent snows affecting areas, such as China, supplied by melt water from mountain ranges.

    This would adversely affect the availability of food, political stability and the operation of drinking water and hydro-electric plants, Dr Palutikov said.

    She said Lord Lawson's view that climate change might have benefits that outweighed the disbenefits was "very wrong" when it came to the availability of water.

    Dr Robert Watson, the former chairman of the IPCC and now chief scientist to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, wrote in a letter to a newspaper: "Lord Lawson's perspective that the UK and Europe are over-reacting to the threat of human-induced climate change is substantially wrong and ignores a significant body of scientific, technological and economic evidence."

    Scientists from the Met Office's Hadley Centre responded to Lord Lawson's contention that there has been no global warming since 2000.

    Dr Vicky Pope, from the centre, said this was because the hottest year ever, 1998, was the result of a 30 year warming trend coupled with a strong El Niño event, the cyclical warming period in the Pacific which occurs every 10-15 years.

    This year and last year are very cool thanks to La Niña, the opposite, cooling event, which began to develop in early 2007, and has had a significant cooling effect on the global average temperature. Despite this, she said, 2007 was one of the ten warmest years since global records began in 1850 with a temperature some 0.4°C above average.

    La Niña has strengthened further during early 2008 and is now the strongest since 1988/89, contributing to a lower January temperature in 2008 compared to recent years.

    However, once La Niña declines, the Hadley Centre says it is very likely that renewed warming will occur as was the case when the Earth emerged from the strong La Niña events of 1989 and 1999.

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    When we have all regretablly become so dependent on the global economy how can Lord Lawson ignore the plight of millons of people that underpin our material way of life! What does he suggest we do with the envitable millons of Climate migrants tht will be knocking on our door.
    Posted by Trevor Watson on April 17, 2008 10:12 AM
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    John B, you can read but can you comprehend?
    Dr Pope, from the Met Office's Hadley Centre,
    said 1998 was the hottest year ever as the result
    of a 30 year warming trend coupled with a strong
    El Niño event. A lot to do with carbon dioxide.

    Since when do you have to be an "economist" to
    understand that when large chunks of earth's
    surface either get a lot drier and turn to desert or
    get too much rain and flood, that it means that
    the world is in for a lot of starvation, suffering
    and death along with the massive economic
    losses. The sea level is rising and could possibly
    rise catastrophically if the Greenland and West
    Antarctic ice sheets collapse.
    Posted by Malcolm on April 17, 2008 4:00 AM
    Report this comment

    The IPCC still sticks to its line notwithstanding Lord Lawson highlighting the almost entire absence of objective evidence supporting its claims and predictions.
    It is now El Nino's fault that its predictions were wrong !
    A damned good book Lawson. Well done !
    Posted by Trevor on April 16, 2008 9:59 PM
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    Lawson is absolutely right. The hysterical alarmism greatly exaggerates the danger. There has been no warming since 2000 and in fact there has been a slight cooling over the last 5 years. The pathetic excuse used by Vicky Pope that '1998 was an El Nino year' is well past its sell-by date, and obviously has no relevance to what has (not) happened since 2000. These people are a disgrace to science
    Posted by Charles on April 16, 2008 5:48 PM
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    How on Earth could the IPCC have made 50 year predictions when they can't even guesss 1 year ahead that the policy of burning biofuels (aka food) they have setup to "save the world" can only lead to the current global food crisis ?
    Posted by Demesure on April 16, 2008 5:47 PM
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    I look foirward to the IPCC being laughed out of a job.
    Posted by Robert Wood Ottawa, Canada on April 16, 2008 1:23 PM
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    The IPCC has used its climate models to make scenarios which the press treats as forecasts, and year after year the scenarios are totally wrong. And when actual 20th century climate data is entered, every single one of the many climate models substantially overstates Today's temperatures.

    And recently, the IPCC has been challenged to produce any scientific evidence whatsoever which even indicates that there is any connection between CO2 concentration and the climate. There are several letters to this effect from some of the world's best know climate scientists, and to date, there has been no answer from the IPCC.

    The IPCC has such history of chicanery, falsification of data, manipulation of reports, incompetence, and misrepresentation of scientific results that it is no wonder they cannot rebut the accusation that they are totally wrong.

    How can we possibly spend trillions of dollars on a theory which cannot be defended, which does not predict anything correctly, will cause severe damage to the world's economies, the deaths of thousands, if not milions, of poor people all over the world, establish a world government organization to control the economies of developed countries, and yet not include China, India or other developing countries?

    Are we being fooled?
    Posted by Arthur Lemay on April 16, 2008 1:00 PM
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    Surely when you look beyond the concept of capital to the truth of what a crop, city and industry needs you will see the true limit to growth: WATER FOR LIFE.

    This is a hard constraint that you cannot bend in the short/mid term, only in the long term, which is outside the natural feedback loop of free market capitalism, can technologies be implemented to ensure self-sustainable growth.

    Posted by John Costaschuk on April 16, 2008 11:47 AM
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    So they now admit the so-called 'hottest year ever' was due to El Nino, and recent cooling is down to La Nina. Little to do with Carbon Dioxide, then.

    Since the IPCC are not economists, I wonder what makes them think they are qualified to pontificate about the costs and benefits of theoretical climate changes in the future, such as the fabled sea-level rise they predict. Oh wait, they don't actually make 'predictions', do they?

    Posted by John B on April 16, 2008 11:44 AM
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    There is a cheap and simple way to stop warming immediately! Sound too good to be true? Just add a small amount of aerosol to the upper atmosphere to dim the sun a little.

    It would cost trillions of dollars to completely rebuild our energy infrastructure, and it is very unlikely we will do it fast enough to avoid either abrupt climate change or runaway global warming.

    Besides, soon CO2 will be harvested profitably from the air to make fuel (4th generation fuel production). Read my blog at (due to space limitations here I can't fully cite my sources for the above amazing claims).

    By the way, it is impossible to meet emission cut goals without "clean coal" and:

    Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, has estimated that capturing and burying just 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted over a year from coal-fire plants at current rates would require moving volumes of compressed carbon dioxide greater than the total annual flow of oil worldwide — a massive undertaking requiring decades and trillions of dollars. "Beware of the scale," he stressed."
    Posted by Brad Arnold on April 16, 2008 11:22 AM
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