What opinions do the public hold on the issues of global warming? Here are some of the emails we received from viewers on the topic:
I was fascinated by the programme. Everyone wants to focus on the "big issue" of global climate change. Keep the issue big enough and steps are less likely to be taken to ease the situation. My feeling is we are hurting ourselves with the level of emissions into the atmosphere. Incidence maps of childhood asthma onsets have been made that indicate children living near arterial routes or regular traffic choke points are much more likely to get respiratory disorders and people who already have them may have their condition worsen in those areas. It seems common sense to me that conditions that cause such serious disorders in some, are detrimental to all. Our bodies have to work harder to stay healthy and constant gnawing stresses are certainly not a good influence. Vivienne Parry's belief system may keep her going, but I certainly believe we need to actively do what can be done to ease the stresses of dirty human activity while we wait for our knights in shining lab coats to save the day.
There are plenty of things we can do more of to ease the situation over time. Use more land for forestry, redouble the efforts already being made to recycle what is energy expensive to make, be more energy and natural resource efficient. Use more public transport: preferably vehicles that don't belch thick black exhaust fumes. I remember something from my childhood exposure to the bible. In the King James bible there is a passage that says god has granted humanity stewardship of the planet. We don't own it, we are responsible for it. I also believe we have been lent the planet by those who came before us and we are borrowing it from those yet to come. Saving some of them from asthma and the like could well save the planet from an "asthma attack" of its own. I don't know what that would look like, but I'm sure it would be very nasty for us. I was interested by the point one of the scientists made about Carbon dioxide not in previous climate changes being a major initiator of the changes. That sounds like an implication that this time around human activity is the new factor affecting the balance.
Phil Mason, London
I've just seen your program on global warming and what makes me a skeptic is the Government blaming us the people and jumping on the band-wagon and taxing all us rich and mostly poor and doing nothing with the revenue for our benefit like electric cars or solar power and so no.
The biggest problem with the IPCC modelling and consequent predictions is the fact that it is a finite difference model with unit cells of 300 km square. This means that practically no important fluid dynamic process can be included in the model since their scales extend down to a fraction of a metre or even less than a millimetre. This has always been a problem recognised in the modelling of meteorological processes, where there have always been two divisions between macro- (global) and micro- (local) climate modelling.
The fundamental problem is that the capability of even the most massive supercomputers currently available is not sufficient to allow global modelling at less than the 300 km scale. There is a rumour that Fujitsu are planning a supercomputer when will allow the scale to be reduced to 10 km, but this is still grossly inadequate for the modelling of fluid dynamic processes such as turbulent mass and heat transfer both in the atmosphere and at the air-sea interface. What the modellers do to get round the problem is to bodge the approach - a process which I have heard described by a senior researcher at the Hadley Centre as 'black magic'. In other words, within each 300 km square cell they apply micro-modelling to allow density, momentum and energy transfer simulation. The problem here is that each cell is independent of its neighbours and one cannot properly define the boundary conditions - which must be gradients - for each cell which are essential if the finite difference modelling is to progress beyond the initial arbitrarily-defined state. The only realistic transfer process which the IPCC model includes is radiation. This is scale-insensitive, but in terms of the infra-red emission and absorption spectra of the atmospheric 'greenhouse' gases it is extremely complex in its modelling.
It is generally accepted that the IPCC radiation model is crude and inaccurate. This is why so many university groups in the UK and the USA are slowly developing spectrally-proper radiation models. Currently, even the effect of atmospheric molecular collision processes on radiation transfer is not taken into account. Since the current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is only 360 parts per million, almost all the collisions which carbon dioxide molecules experience are with oxygen or nitrogen. We know from studies of vibrational- translational energy transfer (vibrational relaxation) studies which go back some fifty years, that under atmospheric conditions most of the spectrally-excited molecular vibrations of carbon dioxide will be quenched and the excess energy transferred to translational energy for oxygen and nitrogen. This process is likely to have a large effect on radiation modelling but is not included in global models. Pro-global warming committee men always, as in your programme, come out with the statement that thousands of scientists believe in man-made enhancements to the global warming balance. In the eighteenth century, most scientists believed in the phlogiston theory and it took only one or two scientists to demolish it. In the last thirty years, we have had the Club of Rome and its predictions that by now we would have exhausted all our natural resources. If we had had IPCC equivalents for phlogiston and the Club of Rome DYNAMO computer model, Lavoisier would have been executed sooner and we would be back to wartime ration book scenarios for the resources we use.
Far from being an academic or even profess to be, only a poor ole thing which feels he ought to better himself and find the time and take up an OU challenge one day. BUT In respect to the “global warming” issue and the overall - what seems to be the main consensus of belief that “man made fossil fuel emissions” are at the hub of the problem, I feel that I must disagree because of other information presented. CLOUDS AND WATER VAPOUR CHANGES CAUSED BY THE DECIMATION OF GLOBAL FORESTS. As one often hears that when a volcano erupts (of which many seem to do so, around the world on quite a regular basis) the emissions released are absolutely phenomenal and equivalent to tremendous periods for large industrial areas where man-made pollutants are blamed. Surely with trees, as a simple lay person like oneself believes work in the opposite manner than a fossil burning appliance; consuming carbon particles and releasing Oxygen with their other main function of managing the precipitation balance. One must recognise the monetory and political aspect of telling every one to stop cutting down trees this week, but if this area could be recognised more widely surely negotiations in this area could start so the problem could be addressed next week. As this problem will not go away with the methods being used at present. Anyway my opinions for what they are worth.
Excellent piece that was one of the most balanced I have ever seen. As a supporter of the `natural activity' rather than the `man made activity', it was heartening to see that the BBC could allow both views to be aired. The environmentalists have hi-jacked motorists as the `baddies', when the causes of the current climate fluctuations are clearly natural, cyclic and, in some areas, are causing cooling, as your programme showed.